Sharon Wiener and Ben Manea, owners of Walla Artisan Bakery & Cafe, are determined to keep their business running despite Manea’s diagnosis of ALS. Jordyn Thomson/Western News.

Beloved South Okanagan bakery has plans to re-open

Community meeting sparked new interest to keep the unique bakery open

A community meeting has opened a new door for Penticton’s beloved Walla Bakery.

“Someone offered to help manage Wall and one of our customers is pursuing a long-term strategy that would allow Walla to continue to operate in Penticton while also expand bread sales to other markets,” said co-owner Sharon Wiener.

It was just over one year ago that Wiener’s husband, Benjamin Manea, also a co-owner and the baker, was diagnosed with ALS and announced they would be selling Walla Artisan Bakery and Café.

READ ALSO: Life takes an unpredictable turn for well-known South Okanagan baker

Shortly after the announcement, they decided to change their plans after an outpouring of customers showed their support. Instead of closing, they decided to try and find someone who could take over the bakery. When that plan fizzled due to a lack of consistent help, the couple held a public discussion on March 4.

READ ALSO: Walla Artisan Bakery & Cafe seeks protégé to continue business

“There continued to be a demand for the bread, especially from those who are gluten intolerant and could not find an alternative. Ben is still happy to be doing some training and supervising. After mulling over all these factors this past month, we decided to re-open,” said Wiener.

This time they will be focusing on the bread as they stabilize and then plan to slowly reintroduce old and new products. Walla is not a gluten-free facility but their unique long-fermentation process breaks down the gluten to make the breads more digestible so they mimic a gluten-free bread.

“We have no idea what will happen in future, we can’t be definitive, but since we have the staff to bake this great bread, someone else to manage things, and the customers who want it, we’ll keep making these efforts for now,” said Wiener.

The couple also noted they are hiring and will be open starting Wednesday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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