BUSINESS BEAT: Victoria baker keeps tradition alive on Craigflower Road

Byron Fry set up shop right across from where his great great grandfather opened a bakery in 1920

Baker Byron Fry scores the tops of loaves of flax and sesame rye loaves before popping them in the brick oven at Fry’s Red Wheat Bread.

Baking runs in Byron Fry’s blood, with the trade going back five generations on his father’s side and at least two in his mother’s family.

It took a little while, however, for him to realize owning and operating a bakery was what he wanted to do with his life.

Fry will awake on the morning of his 25th birthday next week and prepare for the usual 3 a.m. Friday start time at Fry’s Red Wheat Bread bakery on Craigflower Road in Vic West.

The young proprietor, whose father is not a baker, remembers being rather disinterested in grandfather Lou Lefeber’s work as a teenager during his visits to Lefeber’s Lakehill Bakery in Saanich, where his mother also helped out.

Living in a household where consuming natural foods was commonplace, Fry became interested in food security.

“I started taking control of my own food and one way to do that was to start making my own bread, which I started doing at home,” he said.

About four years ago when he was studying photography, Fry had the opportunity to shoot some bakers, including Cliff Leir at Fol Epi bakery in Dockside Green.

The up-close exposure, so to speak, to the art of baking got him rethinking his career options.

He dove into the business head-on, working the early morning shift at the Italian Bakery on Quadra Street – “a really cool bakery with lots of cool old equipment,” he says – visiting bakeries in the U.S. and bouncing around a few bakeries on the Lower Mainland.

After selling his wares at farmer’s markets for a couple of years, he decided it would be cool to build a wood-fired oven. The next logical step was to scout around for a retail location.

He found one at the foot of Craigflower Road, directly across from where his great great grandfather, Charles Fry, opened a bakery in 1920.

Motivated by the age of the building and its electrical system, which necessitated a more efficient, old-style approach to the company’s use of power, Fry and his associates built an oven brick by brick and created a space where customers could see the baking being done up close.

Baking favourites such as pain rustique, flax rye and whole wheat country breads – publishing a day-by-day baking schedule and menu for customers – Fry’s aims to sell out its products on a daily basis. With specific breads baked through the day, depending on the temperature of the wood-chip fuelled oven, no ingredients are frozen, negating the need for a freezer.

The up-close-and-personal approach of having much of the baking procedure on view for customers, not to mention the unique flavours of their specialty breads, has made the bakery a popular stop in the Vic West neighbourhood.

“We didn’t realize how great a location it was until we started working here and realizing how many people walk by,” Fry says. “We get a lot of people coming in and saying ‘we live so much closer to (another bakery) but it just doesn’t taste the same. We put a lot of time and energy into it and I think it shows in the product.”

– Fry’s Red Wheat Bread, 416 Craigflower Rd. 250-590-5727. frysbakery.com

editor@vicnews.com

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