Spring is on its way; this particular morning the air holds a dewy mist as Jen and Jon Regan put the final touches on their new vegan bakery, set to open April 1. Poison Berry Bakery (12210 Larchmere Blvd., 440-477-2078, poisonberrybakery.com) has been a passion project for the couple since 2010, providing a "better for you" alternative to treats made with cholesterol-rich egg, cow's milk and butter.
"There is the general misconception that baked goods need to have eggs or milk. Let's be honest, baked goods get their flavor from the sugar. As long as the cake isn't too dense or dry, there's a whole list of ingredients you can put in," says Jon who, while not the baker, has spent plenty of time taste testing their confections. Cupcakes like the Peanut Butter Sundae, Banana Split Lip, or the Holy Cannoli showcase the shop's inventive and fun flavor combinations.
Jon has been vegan for 17 years. And after meeting Jon at Kent State University, Jen decided to quit using animal-based products as well. "I started looking more into how dairy cows are treated and how egg production works and I couldn't support it anymore," says Jen.
"It definitely, for me, had an ethical basis. Early on in my vegan life, I was very focused on animal rights," Jon says. "We're all about the comfort foods and making familiar things for people. I think because we're not coming at it as a health-based lifestyle, we more so want to make things for people to try veganism," adds Jen.
There are no obvious indications that Poison Berry products are cage- and cruelty-free; they're just delicious. "People think vegan stuff is bad for you or they just have a bad opinion about veganism a lot of times," Jen says. However that is not the case with their cookies, sweet breakfast breads, doughnuts and accessible treats.
The storefront, in a historic 1920s building, is colorful inside and out. Opposite them, Gray House Pies is opening the same weekend making Larchmere twice as sweet.
The bakery will also offer an all-day vegan breakfast in their "Breakfastatorium," a 20-seat dining room. An open kitchen plan allows customers to take a gander at what's being prepared for them, just feet away, in a former hair salon.
For the grand opening, patrons can expect to find a selection of breakfast breads including a lemon blueberry variety, mango coconut muffins, "Whoo Girl" whoopie pies, and cookie dough balls.
"The major lesson is that it's not easy to turn a hair salon into a bakery," laughs Jon, "but I love this neighborhood. I'm happy where we are."