Cleveland can always use another bakery to sweeten up a neighborhood. When Jen and Jon decided to open up a vegan bakery, it was a long time commitment to veganism and their loyal customer following that pushed them to the jump phase that every entrepreneur must take in order to bring a dream to reality.
Located on the artsy Larchmere Boulevard, where the colorful shops protrude from the sidewalks and street art and graffiti are as much welcomed as newly planted trees, Poison Berry Bakery sits on the corner of a maroon-colored brick building with a decorated glass storefront window.
Prior to buying their current location and renovating it at the start of 2015, the Regans were baking vegan goods for friends and family for nearly six years. They had such a loyal family from festival and market appearances that the thought of opening up a bakery didn't seem like an absurd, unreachable plan.
"I was doing a lot of baking for friends. Many people kept asking where my storefront was. I always thought I would just bake from home. You could say I fell to peer pressure," laughs Jen.
When Jon and Jen started dating, Jen was an on and off vegetarian and Jon became a vegetarian in high school around 1999— a choice mostly due to peer pressure from his friends.
"I've never drank so when my friends went vegetarian, I thought 'if they can do, I can do it," said Jon. "At the end of my freshmen year in college, I started researching animal rights and decided to go vegan in May of 2000."
Jon said he became a 'hippie' about the whole vegan diet. No sugar, no chocolate, completely strict diet.
When Jen talked to Jon about going vegan, the two had only been dating for about eight months. Jen latched onto Jon's habits in 2003 and the rest is history.
The name Poison Berry Bakery is a memorable name for a bakery. Jen said the idea of the cupcake came first. She wanted logos that would have baked goods with weapons.
"I like the bitter-sweetness to it all. The dangerous balance between sweets and a healthy lifestyle. It fits in with people thinking veganism is bad or it's associated with certain misconceptions," Jen said.
Since they started baking vegan specific sweet treats, Jon and Jen have seen more and more people accepting of trying something vegan and welcoming the discussion behind veganism.
"At the end of the day, we just try to have fun with it all. There are so many things you can do with the name like Poison Berry Bakery," Jen said.
They will serve a variety of desserts ranging from vanilla cupcakes, Whoopie pies to gluten-free donuts, and rocky road cookies. Coffee is also their specialty with special training from Peter Brown of Six Shooter Coffee in the Waterloo Arts District.
Aside from the delicious baked goods, starting on May 20, the Regans will start Saturday Vegan Brunch all day long. The duo plans to pair up with local catering companies and other businesses who don't necessarily have a storefront to support each other.
Poison Berry Bakery has been open since the April 1 but their grand opening is Friday, April 14 with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m.
Poison Berry Bakery hours
Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Kaylyn Hlavaty covers news that's all about the pride we share in Cleveland. Have a story tip or idea? Drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Twitter: @kaylynhlavaty.