Photo of takeout boxes with LenJo Bakes logo stamped on them

It all started with a chocolate chip cookie.

For as long as Lenore Johnson can remember, her mom baked the best homemade cookies. As a young girl, helping her mom mix in the chocolate chips and shape the dough sparked Lenore’s passion for baking.

Today, Lenore is the proud owner of LenJo Bakes, a small bakery on Ahrens Street in Kitchener that features delicious cakes, cookies, macarons and more. The menu changes frequently and is inspired by her years living abroad in France, the UK, and New Zealand.

“There's nothing more rewarding than doing what you love every day of the week,” she said.

Lenore officially opened her doors on Valentine’s Day 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic. Government restrictions changed the way she did business and reduced her customer base, but Lenore was determined to keep her doors open.

“I had just put everything I had on the line to open this business… I couldn’t let it fail,” she said. “We adapted, changed, pivoted, adjusted, tweaked, improvised, and guessed our way through the pandemic!”

Photo of woman standing in front of a store
Cupcakes with icing and sprinkles

While things haven’t been easy, Lenore credits her customers and the Kitchener community for their unwavering support.

“It was this incredible community that got me through,” she said. “Thank you doesn't begin to encompass all of the feelings of love and gratitude I have for our community.”

Like Lenore, small business owners across Kitchener have struggled to keep their doors open during the pandemic and many have been forced to close.

“To the business owners who are struggling: I actually see you and am here with you. Keep pushing,” Lenore said. “To the business owners who have had to close the door on their dreams: I'm gutted for you and couldn't imagine how hard that decision could have been.”

Lenore was featured in Kitchener’s 2021 State of the City video along with other business owners, residents and everyday heroes who have helped us get through the pandemic together. Mayor Berry Vrbanovic wanted to highlight what we have gone through as a community and thank all of the people and partners who have helped keep us connected and resilient.