With a brand new brick and mortar location coming to Divisadero, Wholesome Bakery is poised to become the city’s most prominent bakery dedicated to vegan, gluten-free baked goods. Owner Mandy Harper, who founded Wholesome in 2009, hopes her store at 1001 Page — directly across from the Page bar and a brand new Sightglass Coffee shop — will open in October.
Like most specialty bakeries, Wholesome Bakery has operated wholesale, selling goods to Rainbow Grocery, Valencia Street Whole Foods, and other clients. Last year, Harper’s operation expanded to include a small counter inside Mission District outdoor store Alite, a few blocks from Wholesome’s commercial kitchen. Her cookies, brownies, and cupcakes in particular have built a following there. But with the new location, Harper can serve baked goods fresh from the oven, when they’re at their most tempting.
“The lovely smell and warmth that comes out of our kitchen will be part of our sit-down retail space,” the baker says — a key component that’s been missing from Wholesome and its ilk, whose products are often prepackaged or pushed to the side of the pastry case.
Harper’s bakery grew out of her own gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, and low-glycemic diet. “Definitely when I was starting, people were like, what the hell are you doing?” she recalls before founding Wholesome in 2009. “The last year or two years, things have changed for us,” she observes. “I have people ask me, ‘all these gluten-free and vegan places are popping up, does that bother you?’ And I say no, that makes what I’m doing not so weird.”
Harper doesn’t like to compare Wholesome to other bakeries for restricted diets, which limits the playing field. Instead, her philosophy is to make baked goods that everyone can enjoy — those who typically eat glutenous and sugary foods, and those who don’t.
“This is the way I think of my bakery: I know that, what we do, we’re really good at. I think our standards are really high. So I don’t try to compare myself to a gluten free bakery — I want people to eat stuff and not realize that what they’re eating is gluten-free.”
On Divis, Harper plans to expand her offerings to bread — she’s creating her own sourdough starter, and will offer toast — “probably with avocado spreads that everybody likes.” She’ll also serve brunch, a chance to offer a bread pudding she’s particularly keen on.
- Wholesome Bakery [Official]