Brigitte Bérubé says finally opening her new business, The Pantry, is both “exciting and frightening.”
On August 17, doors officially opened and the smell of fresh bread made its way into Vankleek Hill.
“It’s a work in progress, getting our bearing, trying to figure out what we want to do, what we don’t feel is necessary to do,” says Bérubé. So far though, everything is looking good, “I’m super thankful, the community is awesome.”
Getting “out there”
Bérubé and her husband, Valéry Rossbach, operate a subsistence farm with their six kids ranging from eight to 22.
Before the idea for The Pantry came about, the pair were touring the space that was formerly Sam’s Kitchen, at 80 Main Street, as a possible location for Rossbach’s medical practice. While it didn’t quite work for that purpose, the idea of a storefront for local farmers and producers started percolating.
Two years ago, Bérubé said she’s been brainstorming a way to get smaller producers “out there on a more regular basis.”
“I wanted to do something where the smaller farmers that don’t have the means to actually hire help do struggle very much to make a living wage,” she says. “The farmer’s market is always a wonderful place to go… but it’s not enough to sustain the local farmers.”
So far The Pantry has struck up a handful of partnerships with local producers. Its fridge is filled with smoked sturgeon from Le Petit Brûlé, and Bernie’s Greens; as you walk in, there’s a display of McCaig’s Honey to the left; Baked on the Hill will also be partnering and using the kitchen for its treats. Other partnerships extend further outside town as well. Its flour comes from Moulin des Cèdres less than an hour away and the organic coffee is roasted at Café Aladdin in Gatineau.
Bérubé says she’s opened with fewer partnerships than she anticipated.
“I realized some people talk the talk, but not many walk the walk,” she says. Nonetheless, she adds those that have committed are more than making up for it.
Most of The Pantry’s product are organic, a decision motivated by Bérubé’s inability to stomach highly processed foods.
For now, Bérubé plans to be open four days a week: Thursday to Saturday and Monday to accommodate for lunch service.