Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café

By Ellen Spitaleri

Shannon Levens, owner of Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café, loves to look around the café and see it filled with people enjoying a hot drink and a pastry to ward off winter chill.

After working in the wholesale baking business for nearly seven years, Levens began looking for just the right spot for a retail outlet. When she walked into the space in the Ford Building, at SE 11th Ave. and Division St., she knew she had found it. She loved the exposed brick walls and when she discovered that there were a number of creative start-ups upstairs, she decided to open the vegan café in September 2021. 

Originally from Pennsylvania, Levens chose the name Shoofly because it reminded her of a recipe for Shoofly pie, a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty. As she began “veganizing recipes,” she decided to make the Pennsylvania Dutch idea her niche, as customers can tell by looking at some of the décor in the café and the signboard outside. The vegan aspect of the café means that she and her bakers use no animal products: no butter, eggs or milk.

“We have great plant-based alternatives to those products so our customers don’t miss them,” Levens said. She uses Beyond Butcher products for her sausage, poblano and corn handpies. For her ham and cheddar quiche, she uses a local product from Dingers Deli and her bacon alternative comes from another local company, East Village.

There are savory handpies and breakfast sandwiches and a rotating soup menu for weekday morning and noon dining. Thursday through Saturday Shoofly offers a brunch menu with biscuits and gravy, quiche and side salad.

But the star of the show is the pastry case, loaded with scones, muffins, cupcakes, cookies and so much more. Levens said her favorite pastry is the Dutch apple cake, made from her mother’s recipe, and a customer favorite is the cinnamon roll. This time of year, specialty drinks include a peppermint mocha, cardamom-orange latte and the Shoofly latte, made with molasses.

She said that she has an “amazing crew” that helps her come up with new ideas for baked goods.

“I have a full-time cake decorator, a person who does the quiche and another who does the handpies; I like to let the other bakers show off their skills,” Levens said.

It is challenging running the café alone, she said, adding that sometimes it is difficult for her to keep her personal life separate from her work life. However, it is rewarding to see the “hustle and bustle of a neighborhood café.”

Levens is committed to the idea of serving the community with more than just pastries and hot drinks. Inside the café is large box from the Free Lunch Collective, a group that works toward enhancing community building and food access for all. “They have a humanist approach to houselessness and they distribute food supplies weekly; we all need to help our neighbors,” Levens said.

Currently the group is collecting gently used winter clothing items and sleeping bags, but people can also access Free Lunch Collective’s Instagram account and donate money to the group.

On an amusing note, Levens said that sometimes when freight trains block the nearby intersection, people get out of their cars and order drinks and baked goods while they wait for the trains to move.

Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café is open Monday-Saturday, 8 am-3 pm; closed Sunday.

Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café

2505 SE 11th Ave., Suite 101


Pennsylvania Dutch design elements on the Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café signboard reflect owner Levens’ heritage. Photo by Ellen Spitaleri.

Shoofly Vegan Bakery and Café

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