By: Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
Opening a new business during a pandemic is not for the faint of heart.
But if your business is baking mouth-watering, gourmet butter tarts, half the battle is already won.
Maureen Beggs’ micro-bakery Moetarts, at 132 High St in Sutton, is expanding rapidly, with customers scooping up her butter tarts faster than she can bake them.
But, like many success stories, this one was borne out of a crisis.
When COVID-19 caused the Wilfred Community Hall’s closure, Ms. Beggs was left without a commercial kitchen to bake her tarts.
On top of this, the local farmers’ markets, where she used to sell her tarts, were cancelled.
Ms. Beggs considered closing down her business after four years of operation.
“Covid forced my hand,” she said. “I had to fold the business or jump into the unknown.”
Pushed by her son to take a risk, she asked local chef and businesswoman Cori Doern for advice. That’s how the idea was born for a storefront location on High St.
At first, she just kept baking, eager to fulfill orders she had received from her loyal customers. But then word spread, and new customers began to beat a path to her door.
At one point, she was waking up at 4 a.m. each morning, preparing pastry and baking all day.
She was working alone, with occasional help from her husband, Rob, who had to take time off from his job to help.
After almost burning out, Ms. Beggs had to scale things back a bit. But she still works long hours.
“I am grateful beyond words for the people in Georgina for their overwhelming support,” she said.
“Those who remembered me from farmers’ markets kept calling, asking when I would be baking again. They were telling me ‘don’t throw in the towel!'”
Ms. Beggs bakes classic butter tarts, plain, raisin and pecan, but her signature series, Skor and coconut, are also a big hit with butter tart lovers.
When asked what’s the secret ingredient that makes her tarts so irresistible is, she replies tongue in cheek that it is the amount of work and passion she puts into her baking.
She makes her tarts from scratch; she doesn’t use any food processors, and she rolls her pastry by hand. Labour intensive, for sure, but the results are amazing.
So amazing that she has already been asked to bake for supermarkets.
However, according to Ms. Beggs, that’s not part of the plan. She is going to stick to her ‘old school’ ways and focus on quality.
Encouraged by an enthusiastic response and rave reviews by culinary experts, Ms. Beggs dreams about expanding her offerings by including cookies, bars and other tasty treats.
For now, she is happy that the bakery is finally open, and the aroma of fresh tarts wafting from the front door of Moetarts brings in new patrons every day — albeit one person at a time, thanks to covid capacity limits.
To order Ms. Beggs’ butter tarts and cookies online, visit www.moetarts.com.