Constructing the Valley: Neighboring New Kensington bakeries work to succeed collectively
One makes donuts, the opposite doesn’t. One makes customized desserts, the opposite not as a lot.
However the attribute that the majority separates two lately opened New Kensington bakeries is that one, Candy Alchemy Bake Store, is all-vegan, whereas the opposite, Lynette’s M.A.D. Customized Truffles, isn’t.
Lynette McCandrew opened her bakery in March. Jamie Parker adopted, opening her vegan store two weeks later in April.
They’re not simply two bakeries making an attempt to achieve the identical metropolis, and even on the identical avenue. They’re neighbors, sharing a wall in Kenmar Suites on Fifth Avenue.
McCandrew stated neither one among them knew there’d be one other bakery subsequent to their very own. However as a substitute of competing, they help one another, referring clients backwards and forwards primarily based on what they need and who could make it.
“I don’t make something vegan. She doesn’t make something non-vegan,” McCandrew stated. And, “Her donuts are scrumptious.”
Parker stated they empower one another.
“She fingers out my enterprise playing cards. I at all times ship individuals over,” Parker stated. “We strategy it from, ‘Let’s succeed collectively.’ It really works for us. Between the 2 of us, we’ve your baked items coated.”
Whereas they work with totally different components, each are girls of their 40s who took on the problem of taking their home-based companies into storefronts.
A ‘now-or-never factor’
McCandrew, 41, of Brackenridge is a local of Tidioute, a borough in Warren County. She got here to the Alle-Kiski Valley when she was in sixth grade, and graduated from Highlands Excessive College in 1998.
She was baking out of her residence for a decade, first for mates who referred her to different individuals.
“It simply form of spiraled from there,” she stated.
The “M.A.D.” in her store’s title comes from her daughters’ names — Madyson, 12, and Alyce Deyo, 16. Madyson has her personal enterprise, Madyson’s Hydration Station, inside her mother’s store, promoting drinks as a result of her mom doesn’t. Alyce sells jewellery there.
The journey from residence to storefront began with a popup present at Voodoo Brewery in December, the place McCandrew met Mike Malcanas, proprietor of Olde Towne Overhaul. Kenmar Suites is among the many buildings he has purchased and glued up.
“Everybody instructed me I used to be loopy to open a bakery,” she stated. “It was a leap of religion. It was a now-or-never factor. I wasn’t getting any youthful.”
Doing every little thing herself, McCandrew makes cupcakes, muffins, handpies, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, chocolate coated Oreos, and cake pops. The brownies are her greatest vendor, and her personal private weak point.
“I’m a cake decorator that doesn’t eat cake,” she stated. “The brownies then again, I like brownies.”
She makes desserts to-order for occasions equivalent to birthdays, weddings and baptisms.
“I attempt to verify it’s reasonably priced,” she stated. “My objective is the traditional particular person can are available in and order a customized cake.”
As a result of she doesn’t have a entrance on Fifth Avenue, McCandrew stated many don’t know she’s there. Some have discovered her accidentally as they stroll round.
“Individuals are beginning to notice there’s companies again right here,” she stated.
‘Veganizing’ household recipes
Parker, 44, of Penn Hills is a Freeport native and 1995 graduate of Freeport Excessive College.
Since opening in April, enterprise has been ok that she stop her job as a psychological well being therapist in August to go all-in on Candy Alchemy. She employed her first worker, and is trying to convey on one other.
“I can’t sustain with the demand for the product,” she stated.
Parker based Candy Alchemy in her residence in 2016. It was shut down in 2019 whereas she was transferring and battling most cancers, and relaunched in 2020.
Parker turned vegetarian in 2001, and went vegan in 2013.
“As a vegan I don’t really feel I miss out on something,” she stated. “I really feel higher in regards to the selections I’m making.”
The distinction between vegetarian and vegan, she defined, is that vegans don’t eat any animal merchandise or something derived from animals, together with milk, eggs, honey and even sprinkles.
Whereas a cupcake made with eggs and milk can be tremendous for a vegetarian, it might not be for a vegan, she stated.
Though there are vegan substitutes for each ingredient, “It was at all times such a wrestle to seek out baked items that have been vegan,” she stated.
Parker stated she likes to “veganize” household recipes, equivalent to her grandmother’s woman locks. How she does that, although, is a secret.
“I’m fairly good at manipulating components,” she stated.
Parker thought-about different communities for her store earlier than selecting New Kensington, the place she had as soon as labored and lived, and was launched to Malcanas. She had heard in regards to the current development within the metropolis and knew there weren’t lots of choices within the space for vegans.
“I can’t say no with out checking it out,” she stated.
When first proven the house she’s in, she knew it was proper for her.
“I liked every little thing about this house,” she stated.
Parker stated not everybody who involves her window on Barnes Road is aware of her store is vegan, and even cares. They’re simply searching for good baked items equivalent to her donuts, pop tarts, sundaes and cupcakes.
Parker desires to broaden her choices into savory meals by December, including sandwiches, salads and soups to her menu.
“I didn’t have any expectations after I first began,” she stated. “I’m grateful for all of the enterprise that I get.”