The owners of an iconic Icelandic bakery and a Mexican-inspired café are thrilled to be in the heart of Manuels, C.B.S.
Motorists driving down the Conception Bay highway through Manuels might notice some unfamiliar signs. Perfectly situated off the Access Road in Conception Bay South, two businesses that have relocated to the community are serving up international flavours.
Volcano Bakery opened in 2016 and quickly made its name in St. John’s, amassing quite a following. The same can be said for Frida’s Café, which Northeast Avalon residents might recognize as the crew behind Soul Azteka Catering.
Chef Michael Wozney, owner of Frida’s Riverside Café, Soul Azteka catering and the Poko Loko food truck, says setting up in C.B.S has been a pleasure on all fronts of his three-business operation.
Having been brought in by the Manuels River Interpretation Centre, Frida’s Riverside Café has quickly become a favourite spot to grab a snack before hitting the trails along the river.
“It’s been really nice getting to know the regulars around C.B.S,” said Wozney. “So many people use these trails in the run of the day. We have an ideal location.”
“Public reception has been so good with Frida’s,” Wozney added. “It felt like a smart move to bring in our food truck next. We see so many groups using our food truck and outdoor space as a meet-up point for reunions and get-togethers.”
Perfect timing, despite Covid
Wozney said that even though Poko Loko is closed for the season and Frida’s Café has slowed due to COVID-19, the public has still been very receptive.
“We started doing Fridays at Frida’s, where we prepare gourmet meals to be reheated at home, and so far we’ve been receiving some tremendous feedback. It’s great being a part of such a supportive community.”
For Gunnar Asgeirsson, co-owner of Volcano Bakery, the move to C.B.S has always been in the cards.
“We never planned to stay at our location on Torbay Road. Although business has been great on the east end, I’ve always wanted to relocate in C.B.S.”
When the original owner, Haukur Leifs Hauksson, died in 2017, just months after starting this business, Asgeirsson took it upon himself to keep his friend’s business alive.
For six years, the bakery was a staple on the east end, but the owners always had their eyes on C.B.S,
“We actually bought this building in Manuels almost a year ago,” said Asgeirsson, “and when the lease was finally up on Torbay Road, we were already ready to make the move.”
Being a resident of C.B.S himself, Asgeirsson says that setting up shop in Manuels was more than just a smart business decision.
“When you wake up at 2 a.m. and work long days in the bakery, it pays to work close to home. It means at the end of the day I still have energy to spend time with my family or have a cup of coffee with my wife. It really is wonderful.”
Fresh bread up and down the Shore
Asgeirsson says the new location couldn’t be better, as it’s only minutes from the Manuels Access Road.
“We have the benefit of being so close to the highway,” Asgeirsson said. “It makes it easier for our returning customers coming from the east end and downtown St. John’s.
“And, since we are still so far from Dough B’ys Bakery up the shore, I feel like we don’t have to compete for customers. If anything, it is making fresh-baked goods available to everyone on both sides of the community.”
The employees at Volcano Bakery seem to agree with him. While some of the staff are new hires, a good few have been with the bakery since the beginning. They described how they still see the same familiar faces picking up their weekly bread – a testament to their loyal customer base.
As for first impressions on C.B.S, the staff have received nothing but a positive reception from their new customers. They say that they’ve received nothing but kind words and praise on social media. They’re thrilled to become a part of the growing community.