The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Tastes of ‘home’ remain popular
After 30 years of business, the co-owner of an iconic Wimmera eatery continues to set the earliest of morning alarms in a bid for premium hospitality.
Chris ’N Di’s Bakery at Stawell has grown from a four-person operation on the town’s main street, to an all-encompassing, one-stop food shop with 14 staff, at two locations, for both Stawell residents and Western Highway travellers.
This week will be a little different for Chris and Dianne Anderson, who will celebrate Chris ’N Di’s Bakery’s 30th birthday.
Mr Anderson started his working life as an apprentice chef at Wimmera Base Hospital.
He said it was the hospital chef who gave him his first introduction to the world of pies and cakes — years before he and Mrs Anderson would embark on a three decade-long business venture.
That venture still has him starting work early, alongside a team of staff, who would help the pair expand their bakery from an exclusively piesand-cakes operation, to the expansive breakfast and lunch destination it has become today.
“We started on the Stawell main street as a small bakery, with one or two cooks. The original idea was for a pie shop that also sold traditional cakes and slices,” he said.
“We expanded after a few years to employ four cooks, as well as include a sandwich bar to capitalise on the increased summer trade, and now that sandwich bar has become just as important as anything else we do in the shop.”
He said an interesting and, ultimately fortunate, twist led to opening a second bakery on the highway.
“There was chance to expand the business at a larger shop that was available across the road from the original bakery, which we took. However, that building’s owners did not want us to cook there, which made it hard on the original bakery to supply all the food,” he said.
“It was a health inspector who suggested to us, ‘why not open another shop on the highway instead?’ — and so we found a location on the highway where we could cook and keep the original main road business as well, and have the two spots supporting each other,” he said.
“The highway became a popular spot for trucks and travellers because of the parking space, so the highway business became the travellers’ and truck drivers’ spot, while the main street stayed for the locals and the tourists. As it turned out, not being allowed to cook there became the best thing for us.”
Mr Anderson said the bakery market continued to change as people sought healthier lunch options, and a more diverse selection of pies and cakes.
“At first, we made two different pie types, as well as a few cakes – just the standard traditional slices,” he said.
“These days, we make about 15 different pies, as well as other pastries, and a much larger variety of sweets that still have that ‘home’ feel about them.
“But the sandwich bar has also become so much more extensive as times have changed.
“It is such a popular market as a lot of people hope to stay away from the fried food that is often available for lunch on the highway.”