London dog treat business pivots to human food amid COVID-19 pandemic

The ovens at Bosco and Roxy’s are baking up more than just dog treats these days.

In a bid to stay afloat and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, the family-owned business has shifted toward producing human food, like breads, cookies, and muffins, on top of its stable of handmade doggy goodies.

To reflect the change, the Bessemer Road shop has also adopted a temporary new name — Drive Up Bakery — and has partnered with other local food vendors to offer their products as a no-contact pick-up and delivery food service.

“It kind of just popped in his head, like, ‘oh, my goodness, why aren’t we making human food?” said Skylar Crook, whose family runs the business, of her father, Jaymie’s, late-night ‘epiphany’ last week.

“We have this SQF-certified commercial bakery sitting idle when we could be using it for baking bread and cookies and things that grocery stores are seeming to have issues moving onto the shelves.”

Twelve hours later, Crook says those plans were in motion and bread recipe testing had begun, and within 72 hours, a new website had been launched along with pages on Facebook and Instagram.

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“We’ve had, probably, five full days of full sale and the site active, and we’ve just reached over about 150 orders already,” Crook said.

London-area residents can go to the website, place and pay for their order, and choose to either pick it up at the bakery or have it delivered.

Both options, Crook says, are no-contact. For pick-up, customers can pull up to the bakery, show or say their order number, and have the order put into their trunk.

Among the other names available for purchase on the website are several Western Fair Farmers Market favourites, including Uncle Dad’s Meat Pies and Pizza Plus, The Fritter Shop, and J. Bogal Pierogi.

More market vendors plan to sign on, and some from the Covent Garden Market have also expressed interest, Crook says.

“Their revenue went straight to zero when the non-essential shutdown occurred, so they were very eager to get on the bus to get their products back on the shelves and give their customers a market-fresh experience.”

As for whether human food will remain on Bosco and Roxy’s radar once business returns to normal, Crook says it’s a possibility, but maybe for just one day a week.

“Come get some dog treats for your dog and some food for yourself! That’s kind of the idea we want to maybe roll into in the future,” Crook said.

“I think we would be very open to keeping this running if that’s something the public would want to also play with.”

— With files from Devon Peacock

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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