Cafe-bakery ‘a dream’ for Blenheim entrepreneur

Patty Tompsett jumped at the chance to make her dream come true.

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After her first week as the new owner of Charlie’s Café, located in The Life By Design Center in downtown Blenheim, she said she’s glad she took the opportunity to run her own business.

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Tompsett has lived in Blenheim for 14 years, but had spent much of her time commuting to work in the Greater Toronto Area to work in the insurance industry.

A decision to leave the industry after 23 years gave Tompsett a chance to re-evaluate and explore other options in life.

“I’ve always wanted to open a café and bakery and it’s always been a dream of mine,” she said. “I just never did think it would every come true.”

Tompsett had been a client of Extraordinary Life Chiropractic and The Underground Fit Club, both part of the The Life By Design Centre, owned by Dr. Jamie Richards.

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Tompsett said she’s had many conversations with Richards about her baking and when he offered her a chance to buy Charlie’s Café she thought: “This is my opportunity.”

Becoming an entrepreneur has been a “mind-shift,” said Tompsett, adding she feels much more a part of the community now.

She’s already seeing familiar faces in just the first week of being open, she said.

Having grown up baking with her mother, during the COVID-19 pandemic Tompsett started a custom-cake business from home. It got so busy she had to scale it back to a hobby, because it was tough to balance the small business with her full-time job.

But, now she’s focused on operating her café and is honoring Richards’ request that it remains totally gluten-free.

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Although she has baked gluten-free cakes in the past, Tompsett said, “It’s the first time I’ve just focused on gluten-free.

“But it’s been a fun experiment, because I get to play around with some different recipes and see how they work,” she added.

For now, she is offering cookies, muffins and cake-pops to gauge the popularity of the times.

She plans to add other items such as cupcakes and cinnamon rolls in the future. She added she does a test kitchen to see what recipes will work as gluten-free.

Tompsett said she’s impressed with the demand for gluten-free choices, noting many people have celiac or gluten sensitivities or are just choosing a gluten-free diet.

“It is amazing how many customers have come in so happy that there’s a gluten-free place to purchase good treats and have good coffee.”

Tompsett said she also likes the way Charlie’s Café fits in with the downtown vibe of Blenheim, which already attracts many visitors from out-of-town to its fashion stores.

“It’s nice to feel that we’re part of the community and more people are coming in and socializing,” she said.

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