Here at Cottage Life, we realize how hard the COVID-19 pandemic has hit local businesses. To do our part, we’ll be highlighting the stories of different businesses in cottage country. This week, we spoke with Colby Marcellus who runs Baked & Battered, a fish and chips stop, plus bakery, with his partner Craig Gordon in Haliburton, Ont.
What is Baked & Battered?
Our dream was to create a place that offers high-quality cottage country food with a healthy edge. So, we started a cottage bakery as well as a fish fry shop. We’re really proud of the products that we’ve created and serve.
We offer sustainably sourced fish for our fish and chips. We use natural ingredients in our bakery, such as butter, organic flours, and raw cane sugar. We offer some healthy salads and we’ve got a really great breakfast selection. We’re very proud of our eggs benedict—there are five different types. We also have really good coffee, espressos, and cappuccinos. It’s become a popular place.
How did the business get started?
I was an executive director for a nonprofit in Kitchener, and Craig, my partner, was a registered massage therapist. We’re both getting up there in years and we wanted to retire. We’ve had a cottage in Haliburton for a while, and one day, we were floating around in our lake when we decided that this is where we want to be. We love this place. So, in 2013, we dreamed up Baked & Battered. We found a beautiful building that used to be an old Baptist Church. We finished it and created a fish and chips and bakery combination.
The reason we decided on this combination is that they both seem to be quintessential cottage country staples. We had a very big sprawling building, so we wanted to find a way to capitalize on it. Craig has always wanted to have a fish and chips shop, and I’ve always dreamed of a bakery. It seemed like a good fit. And for people wondering if the bakery smells like fish, it does not, by the way.
We ended up creating a bakery/café in the old church area, and then in the building add-on is where we created our cottage-themed fish and chips. When you come in, you’ll notice that we’ve designed the café, in particular, to feel like the interior of a rustic cottage. It’s then connected to the fish and chips shop by a door in the middle of the building.
When you walk into the fish and chips area, there is a counter that looks like a front porch with a pass-through window, like an old cottage window. The cottage theme has worked well. It’s very charming. And then we’ve created a dining room called the boathouse, and we have a terrific patio, which overlooks Head Lake in Haliburton. So, the theme runs all throughout the business.
What inspired the name?
The name was one of the hardest things to figure out. We tried a lot of different versions while we were creating our business plan. Then one day, we were thinking about the food, and I thought, one half’s going to be baked and the other half is going to be battered because of the fish and chips, and it suddenly clicked. We filled it out a little bit more by adding cottage bakery and fish fry, and voila. I’ll tell you, it’s a name that really sticks. People don’t forget it.
What are your most popular products?
In our fish and chips, we have pickerel, which has lately been very popular. We do halibut, which is also extremely popular. And poutine. You can’t forget the poutine. The lovely thing about our fish and chips is that it is a proprietary blend batter, so it’s actually gluten-free. A lot of people who have not been able to have fish and chips because they’re gluten intolerant or celiac, they’re able to eat our fish and chips since it’s all made with rice flour.
In the bakery, we’ve become very well known for our blueberry scones, as well as our carrot cake. And this year, especially, our handmade coconut cream tarts. In the café generally, our eggs bennies are flying out the door. My favourite is the smoked salmon and dill.
How are your products made?
The majority of our products are made on-site, so they are handmade. We’re very proud of that. But I wouldn’t call it slow food, because we’re pretty quick about it. People can feel confident that this isn’t just your typical sort of food service. This is very well-thought-out food made with love, and I think you can taste it.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
When COVID-19 erupted, we had to rethink our business model and retool the business. But we’re very fortunate that we already had a pass-through window built into our place that used to be the ice cream window, and we have a large patio. We’ve been able to leverage those two assets, which makes us very fortunate because not everybody has the same setup.
Since our patio is so large, we were able to segregate lines to maintain social distancing for folks, and then we used our ice cream window as a takeout pass-through. We also invested in an online ordering app, so that folks didn’t have to wait in line for the food. Once they arrived, we’d call out their name and bring the food to them. It’s worked quite well for us.
As the lockdown has gradually shifted and opened, we were able to get a fair number of tables on our patio and offer folks a great dining opportunity by the lake. People have been very good and patient. I think a lot of folks are grateful that there are dining opportunities here in cottage country. But it’s certainly been a mixed bag. We never dreamed that business would take this turn. Thankfully, we’ve been able to survive and we’re incredibly grateful for our customers who’ve kept coming back.
What does the future look like for Baked & Battered?
I think this restaurant can be even more of a star attraction in our community than it is. We worked really hard to make it a community gathering place. In terms of plans, we’re currently not licensed, but I see something like that happening in the future. I think it would be really lovely to have a rooftop or a licensed deck where folks could enjoy one of our local beer brews and some great fish and chips. So, more to come on that front.
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