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By Aarthie Fernando and Maria Castillo-Stone
Aarthie and myself were eager to welcome new kids on the block: Pistachio Bake Shop , so we were invited to have a chat with Ismah Souraya - the brain child behind Capitol Hill’s treat spot, and sample some of the goodies for ourselves.
What made you you decide to choose Capitol Hill to situate your business?
When we were looking for a location, this was a perfect place - next to the school, next to the church and the old folks home, and near SAIT which seemed like a great location. The people here are super friendly, family-orientated. You see a lot of demographics here - families, students and seniors.
What inspired your line of business?
I started baking pastries at SAIT (graduated in 2016). From there, I’ve worked as a cake decorator at Co-Op, and at Bridgeland Market as a baker.
I’ve always had a passion for baking, and I’ve always wanted to open up my own coffee shop and bakery. My dad has owned a few businesses - we jumped at the opportunity for this place.
For a new customer, what do you recommend they try first?
Definitely something Middle Eastern because that’s what we’re about here at Pistachio. I would recommend the Raspberry cake slice or the Basbousa. (Author’s note: Basbousa is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake. It is made from a semolina batter and sweetened with orange flower water or rose water simple syrup.)
What was your favourite treat growing up?
My favourite dessert - it’s Lebanese, called Knafeh. It’s made with semolina flour, and cheese - it’s melted. It’s best served warm.
What are your three essentials for the kitchen?
Passion - a love for baking. Patience and butter!
Who inspired you growing up?
Definitely my mum - she’s a part-time baker
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business in Capitol Hill?
If somebody found a place to start a business in Capitol Hill, I would say “Go for it!” Because the community is amazing and the people here are lovely.
Pistachio Bake Shop is located at 1104 20 Ave NW, Calgary, AB T2M 1E8. At time of print, their opening hours are 9am-6pm (except Mondays - they are closed) but I recommend calling ahead at: 403-475-1104 to confirm their opening hours.
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