New Vegan Bakery Coming to West Philly
Shannon Roche and Meagan Benz are basically a match made in vegan heaven, but they didn’t know it until a few months ago. Both spent part of their academic lives studying chemistry, both are lifelong vegetarians-turned-vegans, and both are naturals in the kitchen.
“We had similar interests and business ideas, and we kept hearing about each other through mutual friends, who said we just had to meet,” says Roche, 26. When they finally did meet, it all clicked: Philly needed a vegan bakery, and they were just the gals to do it.
Now they’re in the (very) beginning stages of opening Crust Vegan Bakery, which they’ll launch as a wholesale-only business in the next few months with the plan to open a brick-and-mortar storefront down the line. They’re covering their bases with animal-product-free sweets like cakes, cookies and cupcakes, but they’re also experimenting with trickier-to-make-vegan goods like croissants and Danishes, both of which are traditionally butter-heavy, and the ultimate Italian/Philly staple, cannoli — just veganized, of course.
“There are vegan butter-alternative products that, for the most part, get the job done,” says Benz, 24. “But it’s a lot of experimenting and figuring out which substitutes work best for each and every thing we make.”
Roche cut her teeth in the vegan-baking world professionally when she helmed a vegan bakery at an organic market in the Washington, D.C.-area. Benz has spent the last year as a vegan pastry chef at South Philly’s Vegan Commissary. She left that job a few weeks ago to officially get the wheels off the ground for Crust.
They plan to rent shared kitchen space in West Philly to launch their wholesale business. While they don’t have any wholesale contracts inked just yet, they’ve been putting out the feelers to several Philly coffee shops and cafes and have drummed up interest in their products. Once they have a solid customer base, they’ll explore the option of opening a storefront.
“Philly is a very vegan-friendly city, but it doesn’t have its own brick-and-mortar vegan bakery yet,” says Roche. “I think the city is ready for it.”
Benz is working to get the website up soon, but in the meantime you can follow their progress on Instagram at @crustveganbakery and on Facebook. Or, you can reach out to them directly at [email protected].
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