The Sweet Gallery story begins with the tale of a young boy growing up in rural Vojvodina (a region in Northern Serbia). Opposing his father’s wishes to go into the watchmaker’s trade, Radenko Jelenic, a.k.a. Radi, had a passion for making sweets. By age nine he was instructing his mother on how the dough should be pressed and became renowned in the neighbouring villages for his delectable baked goods. By age fourteen, Radi began a baking apprenticeship in the city of Novi Sad and made his way to the nation’s capital of Belgrade where he discovered his passion for Viennese pastry. As the socialist government at that time softened, tradesmen were granted the opportunity to leave the country in search of employment abroad. Radi took advantage of this opportunity and headed west to Germany. In Germany, Radi met his sweetheart Lydia who was not only the greatest love of his life but also part of the recipe to his success.
On September 15, 1967, Radi immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he began working as a pastry chef in various influential hotels including The Royal York, Inn on the Park, The Hyatt, and the Regal Constellation. By 1974, Radi and Lydia opened their first pastry shop in Bloor West Village named Sweet Gallery, “Where Cakes Become Art”. The second Sweet Gallery located was a beloved café in Toronto’s Eaton Centre and then a baking facility with an upstairs café in Etobicoke’s south end shortly thereafter. The fourth location was located at Harbourfront in the Queens Quay Terminal and finally a fifth gorgeous location on Mount Pleasant Avenue.
The Jelenics ran the quintessential ‘family business’ with the support of their children Nancy, Gordie, and Olivia. All three children worked at various locations throughout their lives where they were taught the subtleties of business, the penchant for excellent quality sweets, and the value of hard work. In 2015, Sweet Gallery was passed down to Gordie and his wife Angela. Today the sweetness continues as the duo run both the busy wholesale business and the café out of the Bering location in Etobicoke. Their hope is to one day expand the business and continue the family business further! Stay tuned!