Sweet Alchemy to Close Essex Café but Continue Baking | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Sweet Alchemy to Close Essex Café but Continue Baking


Published June 4, 2024 at 12:54 p.m.
Updated June 5, 2024 at 10:21 a.m.

Baked goods at Sweet Alchemy Bakery & Café in 2018 - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Baked goods at Sweet Alchemy Bakery & Café in 2018

Sweet Alchemy Bakery & Café in Essex will close its retail bakery and café at the end of June, but its vegan and gluten-free baked goods will remain available at stores in the Burlington and Montpelier areas. Co-owner Bhava Carr, 38, said she and her husband and business partner, Kunja Kumar, 37, plan to offer three pop-up café dates, on June 16, 23 and 30, before moving their wholesale bakery to a commercial kitchen that is being built in the garage of their Fairfax home.

The couple have not offered regular retail hours since last August. They welcomed a baby girl in September — their main reason for stepping back from the retail business, Carr said.

The bakery-café has a strong following for its vegan and gluten-free specialties, such as doughnuts, cupcakes and quick breads, as well as for its breakfast burritos, masala chai and cinnamon rolls made with regular flour.

Kunja Kumar and Bhava Carr - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Kunja Kumar and Bhava Carr

Opening a café wasn't in Carr's original plan, she said, but when she decided to expand her wholesale bakery in the Barns at Lang Farm in 2017, she found the space perfect for retail. She emphasized that demand for vegan baked goods is strong and the café has done very well.

"In some ways, it's bonkers to walk away from that," Carr acknowledged, "but it was never my dream to have a café, and we're definitely ready to put our family first."

The couple plan to offer expanded to-go offerings for pickup in Fairfax. Kumar, who was born and raised in India, is a "fabulous" cook, his wife said, and has built a fan base for his curries, such as tofu butter masala. They also hope to give cooking and baking classes.

Carr said she is finalizing the transfer of Sweet Alchemy's Essex lease to another food-related business.

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