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Baking up a community hub in Benicia

January 25, 2024 | Customers

“Being a baker is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Since I was about 10 years old, it was my singular focus.”

– Hannalee Pervan
Co-owner of One House Bakery in Benicia, California

Hannalee travelled a long road to open the business she’s dreamed of since she was a little girl. After earning a basketball scholarship, she studied business at university, then cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. She went on to win gold medals in cooking competitions for the province and the country.  

For more than a decade afterwards, she worked at bakeries across Canada and the U.S., learning everything from how to make different styles of pastry to how to manage wholesaling – all in service of making her vision a reality. Finally, Hannalee opened her own bakery, which she co-owns with her parents, Catherine and Peter Pervan. It’s truly a family affair; Peter handles payroll, and Catherine is the in-house chocolatier. 

The name One House references the unity between the front and back of the house at this bakery – two realms that are typically separated at culinary establishments. Similar to BMO’s One Client Leadership approach, Hannalee knows you get the best out of your team when everyone works together.  

“Their philosophy is just like BMO’s,” says Chris Wheeler, VP and Business Relationship Manager, BMO. “Their focus is ensuring everyone works together to get to a better end result.”  

In addition to fostering unity among her employees, Hannalee wanted her business reflect her values – from using natural ingredients to creating a community hub. At One House, bakers mill their own fresh flour and use natural colours and ingredients. “I want everything to be as delicious and as healthy as can be,” says Hannalee. 

One House recently celebrated their five-year anniversary – a true milestone, especially since four of those years were during the pandemic. “I built a website overnight because we didn’t even have online ordering yet,” says Hannalee. “We didn’t have anything but a phone to take orders, and our phone system crashed the first day of Covid.”  

The bakery adapted quickly – and once again, Hannalee found a way to support the community. “We started selling flour, milk and eggs in addition to being a bakery, and also made meals that we essentially sold at cost, because we knew people needed it,” she says. 

That was just the beginning of the challenges Hannalee encountered due to the pandemic. After coming down with Covid three years ago, Hannalee lost her sense of taste. At first it was gone completely, and when it came back, everything tasted wrong. Losing the ability to taste has been Hannalee’s biggest professional challenge yet.

“All the recipes we make are my own. I had been obsessing over these ingredients and recipes for ten years. It was scary. But I know what things are supposed to taste like, so I have continued to develop recipes. Now I ask my mom and my sous chef to taste things, to ensure they taste the way I want them to.” 

– Hannalee Pervan
Co-owner of One House Bakery in Benicia, California

In spite of the challenges of the past few years, One House is thriving. The bakery employs 53 people, 80 per cent of whom are women. That’s important to Hannalee, who set out to create a safe space for the 2SLGBTQI+ community, minorities, veterans and women.  

“I love baking, and I love taking care of the people who work here and live in our community,” says Hannalee. “This business comes from my dreams and my heart – I want to be Benicia’s bakery.”

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