More than a year ago, James and Angie Chambers had a small but dedicated following anticipating their home-baked sweets at different pop ups around Brandon.
On July 27, Chez Angela – named after Angie, who is head chef of the operation – opened the doors at a permanent location in the historic Bass Building in downtown Brandon. The new shop offers artisan breads, pastries, gluten free products, juices and a coffee bar. The baking is done fresh every day, with Angie and James starting as early as 4 a.m. to get their products ready to go.
The couple, who met as teenagers, each have their own tasks to complete in the bakery. Angie has been cooking from scratch for more than twenty years, while James helps out in the kitchen and oversees the daily operations of the store. When they first started out, Chez Angela was found at the Brandon Global Kitchen, and every Saturday morning, the Chambers would have a booth at the Global Market. This built up their following around town.
When they finally decided to open a permanent shop, the downtown appealed to them. Both have roots in the downtown area, where they’ve seen the city’s core change over the years. They are excited to bring back the energy and vibrancy they once saw.
“Downtown Brandon was a really happening place. There was so much vitality here as a teen,” James said. “As we got older and started having children, that spark kind of went away. Now there are so many great places popping up. Other restaurants are down here and we have the gift shop next door. It’s really just seeing that re-vibrance and resilience starting to grow again which makes us excited to be down here and why we chose this location.”
Everything Chez Angela does runs in line with supporting downtown and local. The couple sees the importance of advocating for their community, which is why they source everything from within the Westman Region.
“Local is fundamentally what we do. It’s the backbone of where we are trying to take our business; to encourage other people to buy locally,” said James. “We want people to slow down and think about where their food comes from. When you support local, you see where your food is coming from. They’re people from your own community you’re supporting. We source all our ingredients from local farmers, and if we can’t get it from nearby, then everything is and from Canada.”
The Chambers now have three children who help out when they can. Together as a team, they have developed a large following both within Brandon and throughout parts of Manitoba.
“We have such an overwhelming support of people. I mean words can’t describe the feeling you get from the people in this community who are just cheering for us. It means the world. The last six weeks alone have just been so hectic. We wouldn’t have got through them without the support of our customers,” James said.
Chez Angela is currently open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. More information about the bakery can found chezangela.ca, where one can even sign up for a bread subscription.
This story is the fourth of a series of stories featuring the businesses and organizations that have revitalized Brandon’s downtown commercial area since an effort to do so was launched several years ago.