Family recipe

It’s probably not often that a software engineer launches a bakery, but Tony Splaver has Italian heritage on his side.

In April 2007, Splaver and his wife Michelle opened Vancouver-based Artino’s Bakery and Café, following in the footsteps of his grandmother, Helen (Artino) Splaver, who opened Artino’s Italian Bakery in 1952 in Tucson, Ariz.

Her parents immigrated from Italy and brought Artino-family baking traditions with them.

Tony Splaver wasn’t trained as a baker, but he used his engineer’s mind to learn the ropes.

“The engineer in me is able to dissect a recipe,” Splaver said. “There’s a lot of science in baking.”

He founded Splaver Software in 1995, which he continues to operate out of his Vancouver home.  He was also a manager at Panther Systems Northwest and CPDI, both of Vancouver, and all the while, he and his wife were saving the initial capital investment to open a family bakery.

“I’ve had a dream to do this for a long time,” Splaver said. He continues to consult part-time for local software companies.

The company projects revenues of $500,000 in its first year. It has seven full-time employees with benefits and two part-time employees.

About 15 percent of the company’s overall revenue comes from a few commercial customers. The bakery’s biggest commercial account is Vancouver-based Big Al’s. Commercial customers bring in a “constant, recurring known revenue stream” and Splaver is working to develop contracts with more of them. He also is focusing on building up his catering business.

The café serves 30 to 50 lunches daily to folks from surrounding business parks, which make up 45 percent of an average day’s in-store sales, Splaver said. Coffee sales make up about 15 percent of the sales and baked goods make up the other 25 percent.

The café’s focus on symmetry and clean lines and angles came from the minds of Splaver and his father Tom Splaver, a retired Hewlett-Packard engineer from Vancouver. Tony Splaver learned computer aided design software to pre-arrange the café, right down to the end tables.

The menu boasts 10 varieties of bread and 15 panini and sandwiches, plus salads, wraps and soup made from scratch. Desserts include the Chocolate Decadence flourless cake, specialty muffins and cookies.

Helen Splaver ran the original Artino’s for about five years and continued baking for businesses after it closed. She died just before the Vancouver bakery and café opened.  

“I think it would be fair to say she knew (about it),” Splaver said. “We told her several times and she would smile.

“She baked right until the end, as long as she could in her own kitchen.”

Artino’s Bakery and Café

Tony Splaver, owner and baker

19005 S.E. 34th St., Suite 106, Vancouver


Charity Thompson can be reached at

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