Just a few months short of a 100-year anniversary a Winnipeg staple for families, socials, and more, has announced it has officially closed its doors.
KUB Bakery posted a notice on the door of its store saying, "It is with profound sadness that we inform you that KUB Bakery will be ceasing operations and closing its doors on November 16, 2022." However, co-owner Ross Einfeld says that once word started spreading on social media Winnipeggers showed up in droves and bought them out of every loaf of bread, and as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 15, they have ceased operations.
"The brand still exists"
Einfeld says that the business was effectively a victim of the pandemic and recent racing inflation. "We lost every restaurant in the city we had," he says about places the bakery supplied. To make matters worse, the bakery was also the supplier of IG Field, Canda Life Centre, and Shaw Park. When pro sports were shut down they lost even more income.
"It put us in a pretty bad place," the baker says. Then when mandates ended they found challenges getting reliable employees. "Everything's changed, it seems. You couldn't do in-person interviews, so you hire somebody over the phone and they don't even bother showing up."
The market changed significantly, he says, not only with rising costs but having to deal with large retail outlets. "You effectively worked for (the big box stores). They set your prices. Gone were the days where you went and showed a grocer your prices. They told you what they would pay you and if you didn't agree they just wouldn't carry you."
A storied history
KUB was an institution not only in Winnipeg but throughout Manitoba. In the bakery's history section on its website, it says it is the oldest rye bread bakery in the city, opening its doors in 1923 with a group of four business partners: Alex Kucher; A. Andrychuk; N. Doskuch; and L. Stoyich.
Before 1924 Kucher bought out his partners and renamed the bakery Kucher's Ukrainian Bakery or KUB for short.
In 1982 Ross Einfeld's father purchased the bakery and the family had been running it for the past 40 years. He says that when he looks back over the past 40 years it was the customers that kept him going.
"You'd have people insist on speaking to the manager. So you go up there, and they're there saying, 'We just love your bread.' They would come in from out of town and buy 10 or 20 loaves and take them home and freeze them. That really made your day."
Hope for a future?
Einfeld says that while their operations are ending, "the brand still exists." He says the family is very willing to sell it, "but it has to be a fit." He explains that "not just anyone can come in and take it over. You have to have lots of experience."
For now, the family has sold their building on Erin Street and is preparing to move all of their equipment out in preparation for the new owners.
"We would like to thank our loyal customers for their support and patronage over all these years, it has been a pleasure to serve you," the letter says. It's signed by the owners, Ross and Jeff Einfeld, and Lisa Perkovic.
The bakery was a staple for residents of the North End but it grew into much more than that over the years. Their rye bread became synonymous with Manitoba gatherings and they supplied the old Winnipeg Arena, MTS Centre, and Shaw Park with their products.
They say that they often sent their bread "all over the world for people longing for a taste of home."
"The Einfeld family thanks you all for supporting our family business," they say in the letter's closing.
For Ross Einfeld, he says the closing is "a double-edged sword." After 40 years of working non-stop and being on call 24/7, he says a bit of a break will be welcome.
But, "the recipes are all still there, the brand is still there," he says again, hinting at his hopes that the right fit comes along.