Petition to save Biscuits to Baskets in Ajax nears goal in one day


Published May 9, 2024 at 2:07 pm

Biscuits to Baskets keith lee

An online petition to save Ajax bakery Biscuits to Baskets nears its 1,000 signature goal after just a day.

The family-run business was forced to move from its cozy backyard base into the family house after a surprise visit from TikTok foodie Keith Lee.

Suzanne Smith started the family-run business out of their home on 49 Beatty Road back in 2003. She’s since been joined by her husband, son and grandmother.

Six years ago they moved into a well-kept exterior building in the backyard to create an easier pickup location. The business is DineSafe certified and Food Safety inspected.

In the 20 years since its founding, Biscuits to Baskets has become locally renowned for its wide selection of handmade confections, including its most popular chocolate barks, caramel apples, and sponge toffees.

This renown caught Lee’s attention. He doesn’t normally visit home-based businesses in fear of overwhelming them with his 16 million followers. However he saw another video about Biscuits to Baskets and decided he couldn’t resist.

He was impressed with the Korean sponge toffee latte (which he rated 8/10) despite not being much of a coffee drinker himself. He also enjoyed a box of cake slices (rated 7/10).

However, he saved his most glowing comments for the Smiths themselves, saying their customer service was “over the top. Some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced.”

Lee’s prediction proved accurate as the backyard business was flooded with customers after his visit. The following day, Biscuits to Baskets reported a huge influx of people.

“Our first and main priority is the safety of our neighbourhood, with the schools in the area and possible congestion of traffic during the week, we want to make sure that everyone is safe,” they wrote on Facebook.

Durham Region Tourism also highlighted the business in the days following Lee’s visit, along with a few other local mom-and-pop shops.

However, while Lee, the Region, and a host of new customers were impressed, it seems the Town of Ajax was not. Their newfound attention brought the long arm of the bylaw officer to their door.

The town visited Biscuits to Baskets to inform them they could not operate out of the backyard as the building was separate from the main house. However, Biscuits to Baskets is still selling from the home itself.

This led to an immediate backlash from supporter and Lee himself, who called the town’s move “surprising, unfortunate, but fixable.” He reiterated his love for Biscuits to Baskets, “It was amazing. In my opinion and my family’s opinion and also to the thousand-plus people who visited in the last month.”

“This business, not only from a food perspective but from a customer service, from what they stand for, from the spirit of the people who work there, amazing in my opinion,” he said.

He continued that one complaint led to the town forcing Biscuits to Baskets. “Obviously, I didn’t like that,” he said, “The fact that me and my family had any part in this…it didn’t sit well with me.”

He and the Biscuits to Baskets are working together to raise money for the bakery to move into a larger facility over PayPal (@Biscuits2Baskets).

Additionally Ajax mom Suzi Guarrasi set up a petition on May 7. The petition aims to have the town reevaluate the by-law that shut down the Biscuits to Baskets pick-up area. It set a goal of 1,000 people. In the last 24 hours more than 966 people signed on.

Signatory Brooklin’s Stacey Hanks thought “It is actually a safer policy for small businesses and clients to have patrons shop from a separate controlled dwelling set up for the business and the related safety needs, than a personal home so why would it matter if someone bought from a home under the by-law or a dwelling on the premises.”

Meanwhile Pickering’s Trish Kendall said, “This is a wonderful part of our community. The town is overreaching here and it is a great disappointment to see this.”

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