Nfld. & Labrador

Signs of growth in Torbay as bakery attracts bread lovers from all over

Torbay used to not have much besides houses. Now, the mayor says, the town is coming into its own.

There used to be not much besides houses in Torbay. Now, the mayor says, the town is coming into its own

A new bakery in Torbay just opened its doors, signalling that the community is entering a new stage of development, its owner says. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Just a few years ago Torbay was a sleepy satellite community of St. John's, a small cove dotted with homes and not much else.

Today, it's booming — with double-digit percent population growth from census to census — but not many amenities for a town of its size.

Peter Hogan noticed that gap, which compelled him to open Torbay's first dedicated bakery earlier this year. An apprentice at Georgestown Bakery in his 20s, Hogan said he initially only took that gig to pay rent, eventually surprising himself with his newfound fascination with the culinary art.

Hogan later took his craft to Berlin, where he learned variations on baking technique from all corners of Europe before returning home. Torbay, he says, seemed like an obvious choice for his first venture. 

Peter Hogan says Torbay has embraced its newest vendor with open arms. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"Torbay's growing really fast. There's a lot of young families here and there aren't a lot of businesses. There aren't a lot of places to eat," Hogan said.

"It seemed like Torbay really needed this as the next step in its development."

Hence, the Torbakery: the town's brand new business that beckons carb-hungry patrons with its bright blue exterior and the smell of fresh foccacia wafting through its door.

Hogan offers the staples — Italian loaves in abundance — and is slowly incorporating brownies, cookies and other baked goods. He says business is rising almost so fast he can hardly keep up, despite opening his doors only last month.

That's analogous to what's happening elsewhere in the town, says Torbay Mayor Craig Scott.

Hogan learned to bake at one of the most iconic businesses in St. John's, then spent a few years in Europe honing his skills. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The Town of Torbay recently hired an economic development officer to attract more businesses to the area, Scott says. That initiative, plus the town's competitive business tax rate, has led to an influx of calls from prospective vendors. 

Scott pointed to the Traditional Coffee House and Deli, a café down the road from Torbakery, as a recent success story — a "cultural hub" marked by folk shows and exhibitions, and just one more sign of a town coming into its own.

New schools and a community centre will continue to attract people, he believes. "It's not like a bigger city. It's smaller. But we do have those things to offer," he said.

With each new business, "there's more things that people don't have to commute to town [for]," Hogan said. "They can get more products and more services here.… It is really a charming area."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jeremy Eaton

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