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Entrepreneur humbled over popularity of gourmet cinnamon buns

Community ProfileEntrepreneur humbled over popularity of gourmet cinnamon buns

A little over four years ago, Gennaro and Lidia Battista had an idea that would end up changing their lives.

The idea would become a business called Lidz CinaBunz, producing gourmet cinnamon buns. Gennaro Battista explains its humble beginnings.

“In March 2020, when COVID first hit, I was working for a balloon and helium wholesaler. They did a temporary layoff for 30 days and during that time, I spent a lot of time at home with my wife and kids and one of things that we did was make cinnamon buns. I found a recipe online [and] made an excessive amount in those 30 days,” Battista said. “I started to make cinnamon buns during this time because I always loved them. When I was growing up, every time my family went to the mall, we would end up buying buns from the Cinnabon’s. My mom always loved cinnamon buns [and they have] always been very nostalgic to me.”

Ever since Gennaro quit his sales job in 2021 to focus on Lidz CinaBunz, it has also allowed him to spend more time with his family. Photo courtesy Lidz CinaBunz.

After a few months of continually refining his baked treats, Battista got inspiration from his family.   

“I had family visiting from Montreal, and I made them some of my cinnamon buns. They loved them and they suggested that I should start to sell them. At first, I dismissed the idea because I really didn’t have time to make more as I was going back to work,” stated Battista. “I eventually started to think about it more seriously when my family sent me an Instagram post of somebody back in Montreal that was making cinnamon buns and selling them from their home. At that point, I thought that this was something I could do.”

And by August 2020, Battista was ready to start his side hustle.

“I told my wife I was interested in starting a side hustle and baking cinnamon buns. She gave me the blessing and on August 23, 2020, we baked our first batch of cinnamon buns. We handed it out to some friends [and they] started to post photos of our cinnamon buns on social media. This started to create awareness; people started asking, ‘Hey, where can I get these?’ and messaged us on social media. We then got a few orders on the weekends that we would do,” said Battista.

As the business continues to grow, Gennaro and Lidia Battista are on the hunt for professionals to help in the kitchen. They currently have a part-time worker helping out. Photo courtesy Lidz CinaBunz.

Word quickly spread about the Battista’s delicious cinnamon buns.

“I was refining my recipe and the process; getting better and better at it. I was basically doing that for a year. From Monday to Friday, I’d work my nine to five and then on Saturdays and Sundays, we would make cinnamon buns for people in Brantford. While I was baking orders for cinnamon buns, I was always making a few extras and handing it out to friends,” explained Battista. “And the money that we were making was just being put back into the business. I was buying a bigger mixer, more spatulas and bigger bowls…bigger bags of ingredients like the flour and the sugar. Then we decided to move out of our kitchen. I sold all of my CrossFit gym equipment which I had set up in our single car garage and started to make plans for a kitchen space there.” 

However, Battista reached out to the Brant County Health Unit to get proper direction and helped Lidz CinaBunz become a fully licensed and certified home-based business.

“They came by and saw my space…they told me teverything I had to do to retrofit my garage [and to] make it a commercial kitchen. And again, all the money we were making from the cinnamon buns sales was being reinvested back into the business,” explained Battista. “We did the floor plan and got the proper equipment to make it into a commercial kitchen.”

The Battista’s continue to connect with new customers by being vendors and currently have a booth at the Waterdown Farmers’ Market. The Battista’s also have been busy building partnerships with local businesses which sell their cinnamon buns including Zaza’s Pizzeria, Mercasa Little Italy Eatery and Strodes BBQ & Deli. Photo courtesy Lidz CinaBunz.

By May 2021, Battista handed in his two weeks’ notice; a job he had been at for ten years.  

“The May 2021 two-four weekend was my first full time at Lidz CinaBunz. We first started the business, unofficially, selling direct to consumers through social media. But then when I became full time, I had a mortgage, bills to pay and a family to support so I knew that I couldn’t really rely on that business model. So, I started knocking on doors of other businesses, and offering them my cinnamon buns. From that moment, it became more for a wholesale business model rather than direct to consumer,” Battista noted. “The first business I sold to in Brantford was Zaza’s Pizzeria. They were selling upwards of 100 of our cinnamon buns in a day which was fantastic. People were responding well to our product. It was such a humbling feeling.”

After several years, Battista and his family have continued to keep up with customers’ demand for more tasty choices.   

“When we started, we had the classic which was a cream cheese icing. And then we kept on doing whatever inspired us [and] now we have probably close to 15 varieties of flavors. My personal favorite is the cookie dough with salted caramel and the Skor cheesecake CinaBun. My wife likes apple cinnamon, strawberry cheesecake, cherry cheesecake, and raspberry cheesecake CinaBunz,” said Battista.

With 15 varieties of cinnamon bun (and growing) including cookie dough with salted caramel, vanilla cakefetti and apple cinnamon; Lidz CinaBunz has a unique cinnamon bun treat for every taste. Photo courtesy Lidz CinaBunz.

However, Battista and his family business, look to build upon their success through positive relationships within the community.

“We’re looking to continue to establish long-term relationships while keeping the product as fresh as possible. I’m very grateful for how many of these local businesses have responded, welcoming us into their businesses and selling our products. Again, I am very humbled and I am feeling very blessed because people continue to buy and enjoy our cinnamon buns. It directly and positively impacts my family. It’s been amazing,” noted Battista.

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