May 19, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Catherine Mera's Last Pastry

Catherine Mera's Last Pastry

the sun Catherine spoke with the founder and owner of Mera Patisserie shortly after signing the bankruptcy papers with the bankruptcy trustee. By putting his stamp on it, the businessman brought to an end a gastronomic adventure that began in Charlevoix in the summer of 2019.

Over the years, the native of the Auvergne region of central France has earned an enviable reputation in her field for the refinement and originality of her sweet creations. And this, even beyond the borders of Charlevoix.

At the time of closing, his small business employed about ten workers, including his brother Mark. Getting out of the bankruptcy “paperwork,” Ms. Mera opens up about the demise of her business, her pastry place in Quebec and her future, here or in France.

Q Did your business collapse?

R I faced financial difficulties for a year. Last year's numbers were a disaster. First of all, we didn't have a great summer. Then, with the flooding of Baie-Saint-Paul, fewer people came. Christmas and Easter are also not good times. Finally, raw material prices continue to rise.

Earlier in the year I had a breakdown in my new cold room which caused a $60,000 product loss. My insurance still hasn't reimbursed me. For a small business, four months without compensation is a long time.

Eventually, I fell far behind. This is no longer viable. I don't have enough customers. At the Quebec store, Friday came when I created a doll [de vente] $28. It's in Quebec! We are far from profitable.

Q How do you explain these difficulties?

R We are in a recession, it shows. At the grocery store, the average basket becomes overpriced. So, I understand that buying a dessert for $10 is no longer possible for 95% of people.

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Because I offer high-end and expensive products, people mistakenly believe that my profit margin is huge. It is contradictory. It is a constant struggle without enough to earn a salary or quality of life. I told myself that I will come later…

Q How are you coping with the shock?

R Morally, it is huge. It is difficult to end something that has lasted for five years. Now I am helpless. For morale, I agree it was a blow. Well, I'm resilient and tell myself it's going to be okay.

Q What awaits you now?

R I don't know. I am going back to France for a while. I need to be close to my loved ones to get dusty.

I have my Canadian citizenship, so I can come back if the opportunity arises or I feel like it, because I know I will miss it.

Q Do you sound like you're leaving and never coming back?

R I don't know at all. I still wonder if my pastry place in Quebec is still viable. There are still some unusual pastries out there, so surely it still works. But what does the future look like?

So, I know, I'm going to France for a month and it hurts me, I want to come back [au Canada] And start again!

Q Are you considering a career change?

R No, baking drives me. I am proud of these five years. I don't consider it a complete failure. Many people end up going bankrupt. Times are not easy right now.

I want to get back on track. I want to take some time to see where this takes me. I need to learn from what happened to make the right choices.

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A Christmas log from Catherine Mera Patisserie from 2023.

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