Restaurants/ Restaurateur Interview Series

Restaurateur Interview Series: Heather & Alli from Sweet Freedom Bakery

Sweet Freedom Bakery
1424 South St
Philadelphia Pennsylvania 19146

Co-owners: Heather Esposito and Allison Lubert

Is this your first restaurant? Yes

What made you decide to open a vegetarian/vegan restaurant?
Suffering from food allergies & sensitivities ourselves, we wanted to create a bakery that is free of the major allergens (gluten-dairy-eggs-soy-corn) so that people can be “free” to enjoy baked goods that taste the same, if not better than traditional baked goods.

What has been your greatest professional success and your biggest setback?
Success–creating such a unique bakery that has been so well received and loved in such a short time.

Setback–learning to not let your ego get in the way of moving forward & not taking criticism personally. They say when you are your own boss every customer is your boss–sometimes it’s difficult to hear their criticism with a smile.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu?
Hmmm…that’s tough…the cinnamon buns or the carrot bread would be my top two picks.

What is the most popular thing on the menu?
It’s difficult to say because we change the menu around so much but some of the most asked for items are the cinnamon buns, the cookie sandwiches & the recent addition to the menu, the carrot bread.

How often do you change your menu items? Do you have daily or weekly specials? How do you choose those specials?
The menu changes daily–depending on what the special orders are, what we feel like making, what is popular, what inspires us etc…

Do you have gluten-free, soy-free, and sugar-free options on your menu?
EVERYTHING we make is free of gluten-dairy-eggs-soy-corn & refined sugar. We only used low glycemic sugars (coconut sugar or agave) so the products are safe for diabetics.

Do you use eco-friendly packaging? What else do you do to reduce your environmental impact?
We use paper boxes instead of plastic containers; unfortunately with the food constraints it’s difficult to use many of the eco-friendly packaging out there because it’s typically soy or corn based. When we were building out the bakery we used low VOC paints & bamboo countertops. We recycle & actually don’t produce much waste.

If you could eat at any vegan restaurant in the world where would it be?
Oh man, there are so many to choose…My favorite vegan restaurant to-date is Millennium. But, I do have to say that a Friday Night Dinner at The Natural Gourmet is one of my favorite spots as well as the menu changes each week with a different class developing the menu. There is something exciting about experiencing creations of up & coming chefs.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to start a vegetarian/vegan restaurant?
Know your primary aim for doing what you want to do and stick to that–don’t listen to the naysayers or let anyone else put their reasons for why they want your establishment become yours.

As a former mental health counselor, Heather Esposito never wanted anything to do with food~until she discovered all of her health problems were created by what she ate.  Heather then decided to turn in her counselor hat for a chef’s coat and co-founded Sweet Freedom Bakery, an allergen-friendly bakery in Philadelphia, which provides baked goods that are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn & refined sugar.  Focusing on using products that support health, Sweet Freedom Bakery has been featured in Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Life” blog, Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and on Cooking Channel’s “Food (ography) ” & “Unique Sweets” (airing soon). Although she owns a bakery Heather is also passionate about teaching others how to create delicious, health supporting savory meals.

This is Part 1 with Heather of Sweet Freedom Bakery. Keep an eye out for Part 2, which includes a video review or sampling of their delish baked goods. 

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