John Schultz had no baking experience when he started experimenting with vegan cakes and cookies to fulfill his dessert cravings. But he quickly built up a following with online bakery Batter & Crumbs, and he and husband Paul Carmine were hit with a crowd of longtime fans and new neighbors on day one at their new Batter & Crumbs cafe, now in its first week on Reed Street between Broad and 15th. Fellow vegan business owners popped in early, too: On day two, Joseph Solar of Greyhound Cafe and Sofia Baltopoulos of The Tasty stopped by for coffee and sweets.
Carmine says they modeled the cafe after the streamlined style of a Starbucks (where Schultz worked for several years) with lots of grab-and-go options — coffee, blueberry muffins, cheddar-chive biscuits, bagels from West Philly’s Four Worlds, sandwiches from Tattooed Moms — along with whole cakes and soft serve ice cream. Everything is vegan.
“We’ve been vegan for about 10 years, and it’s hard to find good desserts,” Carmine says. “John didn’t have a baking background, but he just starting doing it — it was all YouTube university.”
Among his specialities: cinnamon rolls, cherry-cheese danishes, cannoli, and a thin spinach pie that’s a take on an Italian erbazzone, which they’re simply labeling a “spinach jawn.” To drink, there’s Philly Fair Trade coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and lemonade. Order a salted caramel mocha and Batter & Crumbs will donate $1 to the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.
Similar to a Starbucks, the case by the counter has sweet and savory baked goods on top and bottled drinks, like juice and kombucha, alongside packaged yogurt, chips, pasta salad, and sandwiches on the bottom.
The corner cafe is modern, bright, and colorful, with big windows letting in light, chairs in an array of rainbow hues, and a plush green banquette. The wall above it is decorated with shiny tin plates interspersed with photos displayed in light boxes. “We told our designer ‘Willy Wonka meets Warhol,’” Carmine says.
Even if you just swing in for a morning latte, make sure to peek into the bathroom, where colorful drawings of anthropomorphic animals in jaunty hats by artist K. Madison Moore line the wall. (They found Moore by Googling “hipster animal.”) There’s also a large portrait of a squirrel named Marcus — the real Marcus stops by Carmine and Schultz’s house to be fed nuts, but most likely does not wear a tie, vest, and bowler like the framed version.
Before opening the Point Breeze cafe, Schultz and Carmine had been working out of a commercial kitchen in Delaware County to fulfill wholesale orders. But now that the cafe is up and running, they’re stepping back from the wholesale side of things to focus on the retail storefront, plus custom orders for items like wedding cakes. The plan is to eventually expand the brand and open more locations, Carmine says.
They might eventually expand hours too, but for now Batter & Crumbs (1401 Reed Street) is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.