The term “plant-based” doesn’t have to mean bland or boring.
In fact, for one Barrie business, their plant-based cafe and bakery is quite the opposite. It’s bright, cheerful and full of delicious smelling (and tasting) treats — and, of course, lots of sprinkles!
Cheryl McKinlay and her family have been astounded by the response they’ve received since opening the doors to MmmDonuts, their Bayview Drive cafe and bakery, in August 2019. Initially starting in a 1,350-square-foot space with just the five of them, they jumped at the chance to take over the neighbouring unit when the opportunity arose.
“It took off really fast,” she tells BarrieToday. “When the neighbours were moving out, we took over their unit and during COVID we expanded and now have 14 staff members.
"We have just had wonderful responses from both inside and outside our community,” adds McKinlay, noting their 4,372-sq.-ft. space now has allowed them to create much-needed storage areas, a dedicated decorating room, as well as a production area.
MmmDonuts came about in the hopes of filling a much-needed gap for local sweet tooths who would otherwise have to go pretty far to get plant-based treats, she says.
“I have two vegan daughters who would travel far to get their donuts, so I started playing around with a recipe at home trying to make them donuts at home," McKinlay says. "My husband was looking for a new career and we looked into other franchises, but nobody wanted to do it (plant-based). I had been baking since I was a little girl and loved it."
Her one daughter, who currently lives in Australia, had run a small vegan business in Barrie, so she was used to experimenting with vegan recipes.
“I think we have created a really good product that even people that aren’t plant-based or vegan don’t even know the difference," McKinlay says.
They use no dairy, no eggs, and no products that come from animals at all.
"It helps with people’s allergies — so it’s not just vegan diets, but also good for people with food allergies to milk or eggs. … Those are huge allergens, so this is a treat for them,” she says. “We’ve had people come in and cry because they haven’t been able to have a donut in so many years and they’re very excited about it.”
On an average day, MmmDonuts has up to 20 different flavours — from classics like chocolate or vanilla dip to plain-glazed and coconut cream. On Fridays and Saturdays, however, they like to stir it up and include some “crazy” flavours, such as like peppermint stick or English toffee cappuccino.
“We have a menu that lasts for about two months and then we switch it up, but we always have the standard chocolate dip, vanilla, maple, strawberry, cinnamon twist — all the time. The girls have a lot of fun creating new flavours and creations. They’re both very creative girls so this is perfect for them,” McKinlay says. “Our staff have input too and create their own flavours.”
They are also handmade every morning, she says.
“When they are handmade, it’s totally different than a machine making it. You can’t compare,” McKinlay says. “We are here at 3 a.m. and then the fryer comes in at 4:30 a.m. … and they’re decorating usually by 5 a.m.”
McKinlay credits the bakery’s success during the pandemic to their ability to quickly move to online offerings, and while they did briefly offer delivery, the popularity ended up being a bit too much — with customers requesting deliveries as far away as Oakville and Mississauga — that they ultimately moved to curbside pick-up option instead.
MmmDonuts is located at 240 Bayview Dr., Unit 11, in south-end Barrie.