Nearly 5,000 bagels from the legendary St-Viateur shop in Montreal arrived at Vancouver International Airport Wednesday morning – less than 24 hours out of the oven.
Other than those for past charity events, the order was the bakery’s biggest one by individuals in its 66-year history. And it all started with a post to a Facebook foodie group.
When an administrator for the Lower Mainland Eats group asked whether there was interest in ordering goodies from the bakery in late July, hundreds responded. Soon, the simple query turned into an action plan: Administrators for the group, which has more than 20,000 members, reached out to St-Viateur.
Meanwhile, around 30 volunteers from the group, working in a wide variety of professions such as IT, project management, logistics and bookkeeping, stepped up, offering their skills to make the event happen.
Courtney Blair, in charge of logistics, said she thought maybe around 20 people would join the order. But that number boomed within days.
“That’s just unreal. To me, it’s just amazing what we’re all doing,” she said in an interview.
Even though the family-owned bakery has earned the love of bagel enthusiasts across the country over the past decades, St-Viateur’s general manager Nicolo Piazza said he was still surprised and excited to find out about the large order from the West Coast.
“The power of people can do a lot of good,” he said.
To help make B.C. bagel lovers’ sesame and poppy seed dreams come true, St-Viateur charged only a few dollars more than what customers pay at the bakery’s doorstep.
No one in the group “is looking for profit, and nobody’s looking to gain a dollar, nobody’s looking for fame and fortune. They are just to support their members,” Mr. Piazza said.
Last Tuesday morning, staff at multiple locations of St-Viateur geared up to prepare for the order. It took about 12 to 14 hours for the bagels to be baked, cooled and packaged.
After 4,860 bagels (405 dozen orders) arrived at the Vancouver airport, Purolator trucks picked them up and dropped them off at three locations in the city, Port Coquitlam and Surrey, where volunteers stored them in their homes and businesses. From there, another 14 volunteers delivered shipments to pickup points in the North Shore, Mission, Pitt Meadows, Agassiz and several other locations.
“It’s a really good way to bring a community together and we’ve had a fun lighthearted goal,” Ms. Blair said.