Impressions to open dessert bar, roastery at new Listowel location
LISTOWEL – Impressions Bakery Café is expanding to a second location, just down the road from its current home in downtown Listowel. The Listowel Banner sat down with owner, Graham Lichti, to learn more about what is in store for one of the town’s favourite bakeries.
The story of Impressions is a sweet one. One that started only five short years ago, in the home ovens of Graham and his wife Adrienne’s house. After working at a bakery in Waterloo that went under, Lichti wondered if the time was right to make his dreams a reality. He always had the dream of opening a bakery, and was faced with a decision. Get another cozy job or make his dream come true.
“We went through some really hard times financially,” explained Lichti.
He had multiple employment opportunities and with money dwindling and a family to support, Lichti started to wonder if now was the right time to realize his dream. It wasn’t until one company, that wanted to hire him after he said no, offered for him to make pies for them from his own kitchen.
“I was like, ‘I can work with that!’” said Lichti.
“The Lord worked in so many ways through that. I had my last 80 bucks, and I went to the store and got ingredients for my first eight pies.”
He then got paid from the company that bought his pies, and then slowly he was able to afford more supplies, complete larger orders, and the business began to grow from his home.
But eventually, Lichti realized something.
“Young family and baking do not mix.”
He would do all the baking at night once his children were asleep, but it soon became unsustainable. So, they began to look for places to rent in Listowel, and their current location fell perfectly into place for them, meeting all their requirements and more. Impressions then moved from their home kitchen to the bakery’s kitchen, and at the time, they were only producing goods for wholesale. Until one day, Lichti had a ‘crazy idea.’
“I had a few extra fry pies one day, I will never forget it, it was Good Friday. And I had these extra fry pies and I was like I wonder what would happen if I put this on my Facebook. I did, and it instantly got sold. And they came to the back door to pick them up, cash only.”
And that is what sparked the match for Lichti to believe he could expand beyond wholesale.
He began selling fry pies just on Fridays, where people would come to the back door to pick them up.
“We started selling 100, then 200, then 300…” explained Lichti.
Then people started asking about other days, so Impressions started offering a selection of goodies and everyday people came in the back door. Slowly, through word of mouth, it got very busy, and then they made the decision to open a storefront.
“My wife and family are amazing,” gushed Lichti. At the beginning, when they were getting the storefront ready, Lichti and his wife would bring their kids to the store, lay them down in the back, and work on finishing up the space so it could be ready for the public sooner.
“We would come up here and paint it, you know, all night, so it’s been a labour of love.”
And surely enough, since opening their storefront, Impressions Bakery Café has continued to grow exponentially. However, it got to the point last year where kitchen space is tight again, as they now have over 20 employees.
“There are so many things I want to make yet, but I dont have the space.”
It’s been a recent dream of Lichti’s to someday get another kitchen to move their wholesale production to, opening up more space at their current location to make more products.
“Last year was a frustrating year for me,” Lichti opened up.
He was grateful for the growth and support from his community, but felt constricted by the limitations of the space, and with ideas to grow Impressions to be bigger and better than ever, it became a point of frustration.
“I was frustrated because I have all these things I want to do, but not enough space, so I just felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
However, throughout that tough year, Lichti explained that the company was able to really settle.
“The year was good with putting our roots deep.”
At the height of his frustration, Lichti even spent two weeks fasting, waiting on God to provide him with some clarity. And he finally got his answer – wait. So he did.
Then their church group came and prayed for them and their business, and when asked what he wanted, Lichti explained he needed more space.
The next day, a patron walked into Impressions and explained that Life’s A Party was closing and that Lichti should get the space. Lichti said he broke down in tears. Half an hour later, another lady came in and said that her son owns the building and gave him his number to contact.
It was coming together so divinely, Lichti actually secretly hoped the vacant space wouldn’t be big enough or wouldn’t work for what they wanted, as expanding is a big (and scary) step for any business to take.
“I was hoping it would be too small or something, but it’s massive.”
And once he walked through the space, he just knew it would work.
“I’m terrified but incredibly excited. I have so many things I want to do, I can’t wait for the community to enjoy it.”
Now, Lichti is in the process of making his big dreams a reality, as he’s got some exciting ideas for the new space. His aim is for it to be a unique sit-down style dessert bar and roastery.
“I want it to be that space where you can go and get a slice of cheesecake and a really good drink and then sit down with someone.”
He plans for it to be open later in the evening so people can enjoy it after work, but assures it’s not a restaurant, more of an inviting space for the community to use.
“The community is crying for that.”
He even has dreams of a patio out front, wrapped in lights, with live music open late on weekends, creating such a healthy and much-needed nightlife in the town.
“It’s going to take time, but it’s going to be worth it so stay patient. I promise it’s going to be worth it.”
Lichti is grateful to the Lord, his family, staff and the community for making his dreams come true.
“I started this thing with like, ‘Oh I’m going to do great things for the Lord,’ and then the Lord used Impressions to teach me.”
Melissa Dunphy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner