Home cookin’ on Crag Lake

If you're thinking of visiting the new Crag Lake Bakery, you might want to make a reservation first. It's far from a pretentious New York restaurant. There aren't exactly lineups down the street - not yet anyway.

If you’re thinking of visiting the new Crag Lake Bakery, you might want to make a reservation first.

It’s far from a pretentious New York restaurant.

There aren’t exactly lineups down the street – not yet anyway.

It’s much more like going home for dinner, and giving Mom a call to tell her you’re on your way. And maybe suggest she whip up your favourite meal.

Gloria and Tim Thomas, the owners of the new bakery, located about halfway between Carcross and Tagish, mention calling ahead a number of times during a recent interview.

It’s something early customers have started doing on their own.

And it’s very helpful for the husband and wife team.

“It sounds like we’re blowing our own horn, saying it’s by reservations only, but it just makes things so much easier,” said Tim.

“And if people phone ahead and say they want steak – well then, that’s what we do,” added Gloria.

But you might be missing out if you order the steak.

Gloria grew up in a Ukrainian/Russian community in Saskatchewan, and specializes in cabbage rolls, perogies and borscht.

She also offers perischka, which are doughy desserts with sweet filling.

A lifelong baker, Gloria bakes homemade breads, cinnamon buns, butter tarts, pie and other treats.

Gloria and Tim have lived in the Yukon for a little more than two years now.

They first came north for a summer vacation in their truck camper.

They liked it so much that, when they retired from their jobs in Saskatchewan – Tim worked as a brakeman and conductor on trains and Gloria did catering and homecare – they decided to move to the Yukon permanently.

The couple rented some cabins near Crag Lake, and then noticed a strange round structure also on the property.

The building was originally built as a church, but it’s far from typical.

It looks more like a yurt, with rounded walls and a window at the top of the coned ceiling.

The property was once owned by former Whitehorse mayor Don Branigan, who used to hold holistic and faith healing ceremonies there.

Branigan is actually buried nearby.

As soon as the Thomases saw the building they knew they had to convince their landlord to let them do something with it.

“The vibes are good in this building,” said Tim.

“We felt like something needed to be done here.”

Opening a new business is likely not the first thing that people think of doing after retiring, said Tim.

“Everybody looks forward to their retirement, but you can’t just stop. You have to do something.”

They cleaned out and renovated the building and opened the bakery in January, just to test the waters.

They’ve been slowly building clientele since then.

A few curious tourists see the sign and stop by, although it’s difficult for RVs to make it down the steep hill to the bakery.

And the visitor’s information centre in Carcross has been sending tourists their way.

But for the most part, the Thomases are relying on local word of mouth.

People are cautious at first, getting one cinnamon bun or a butter tart, said Tim.

A week later, they’ll call to order a dozen buns or bring friends to stay for dinner.

The architecture and the vibes might be good on the inside, but the best seats in the house are on the small deck out front.

From the deck, there’s an incredible view of Crag Lake, the surrounding bush and mountains.

The Thomases plan to expand the deck, but right now there’s only one table.

The bakery is open for lunch and dinner, and is trying to get away from the standard Yukon fare of burgers and fries.

Tim and Gloria have built gardens and greenhouses next to their cabin, and already use homegrown lettuce, onions and radishes.

There’s usually just one or two meals to choose from.

“It’s just whatever we make that day,” said Gloria.

“If six people come in, they don’t get six different meals,” said Tim.

“It’s too hard, because it’s just two of us. So we came up with a special and people seem to like that.”

“It’s like home,” Gloria added.

The Crag Lake Bakery is open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you’d like to call ahead, to order cinnamon buns or make sure there are perogies on the menu, call 335-2329.

Contact Chris Oke at chriso@yukon-news.com

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