Do you love butter tarts? Yes! How do you like your butter tart? This quintessential Canadian pastry treat has made a big impact on the lives of the owners of The Queen’s Tarts.
Tammy Paterson and Aaron Craig’s butter tart journey started long before they opened their bakery and café just a few months ago. Their permanent storefront location is on Queen St. E. in downtown Sault Ste. Marie; they are also one of the original vendors at the Mill Market, with an outlet there for over five years. I wanted to know more about how butter tarts changed the lives of this couple.
Tammy and Aaron told me, “We both grew up in the area and have been residents of Sault Ste. Marie for over 20 years. Aaron worked in the construction industry and Tammy was in the security field.” Tammy told me she is someone who “has always loved baking and cooking.”
"The venture started in 2010 as a fundraiser to help cover some of my costs as a volunteer committed to going on a build with Habitat for Humanity in Kenya,” she said. “I started making butter tarts to sell to friends and family. That year, I made enough money to pay for my flight.” After that, Tammy has been on several more builds and sold more butter tarts. Soon after, the Mill Market opened and both Tammy and Aaron thought, why not try it out as vendors and see what happens? The business ballooned from there.
While still committed to the local market, The Queen’s Tarts have taken their products on the road. They go to Midland, ON for the annual Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival, where they sell out over 400 dozen butter tarts in no time at all. They also go to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and other Ontario festivals.
A decision was made to take a buyout package for Tammy through her work, but the leap to grow the business was easy. It had grown so much that early in 2019 while looking for a permanent storefront location, the space on Queen Street opened up. They knew Queen Street was the place they wanted to be, not only because the name goes with the name of the business, but because they want to be a part of the revitalization of the downtown and investing in it made sense.
So far, they have been getting great feedback from the local community and the location has proven to be fantastic. “It’s interesting to get American tourists who come in and want to try one, because they have heard of butter tarts, but have never tried one. It’s not a thing in the U.S. We are happy to help them choose a flavour and once they have tried one, they want to buy more to take back home.”
I asked about the butter tart menu as well as the rest of the menu for the café. “Butter tarts are the core of our business with 30-40 different varieties. The top three sellers are the classic raisin/pecan, salted caramel with sea salt, dark chocolate and the turtle tarts.”
The bakery and café are open for breakfast with coffee/tea, biscuits, date squares, and other treats, as well as for lunch with soup, sandwiches, quiche, tourtiere, house salads, and more. While the menu changes regularly throughout the season, here is a typical offering.
The Queen’s Tarts is proud to source from local growers and producers. Through the connections they have made over the years at Mill Market, they have been able to build a good rapport with them. Food for the menu sourced locally includes from the following local producers:
I learned and what is great, is that The Queen’s Tarts, will take special orders. While I was interviewing Tammy and Aaron, another downtown business called and put in an order for several dozen butter tarts for an event they were hosting.
“Our coffee is another aspect of the café we would like to promote. We roast our own ethically sourced beans. Right now, we have three different roasts. The beans are then ground, right before brewing. We also brew our teas for iced tea,” said Aaron.
Both told me their plans include increasing their product offering. One day they would like to expand with a patio out front and get a liquor license.
Right now, these entrepreneurs and their children, are busy with their new venture on Queen Street and bringing their yummy butter tarts to the masses near and far. What a great addition to downtown Sault Ste. Marie!