Metro Detroit baking business Safflower Street is set to open southeast Michigan’s first all-vegan, gluten-free bakery in Ferndale this spring. Baker Jillian Parsell tells Eater that she and business partner Chris Pelak recently signed a lease at 23131 Woodward Ave., just a few blocks north of Nine Mile with plans to open a dessert counter and grab-and-go vegan eatery within the next two months.
Parsell, a restaurant veteran, has been cooking in restaurants since 2017 when she began helping kitchen staff at the now-defunct Om Cafe and transitioned to a vegan diet. During that time she began receiving requests for vegan and gluten-free baked goods and started taking orders through Facebook Marketplace for custom cakes. By 2018, Parsell had established the LLC for Safflower Street and was renting space out of commercial kitchens to fulfill wholesale orders for vegan desserts at local restaurants like Chili Mustard Onions, Cacao Tree Cafe, and Ale Mary’s. “The demand was just there,” Parsell says. “We started doing it a the exact right time.”
Over the next year, Parsell continued to grow the business. However, around nine months ago Safflower abruptly lost its commercial kitchen space. Last November, Parsell says she decided to launch a GoFundMe account with the goal of raising money to secure her own storefront and commercial kitchen. While she raised only a small fraction of the funding through the platform, her campaign caught the eye of Vegan Detroit Facebook group members. Through that group, Parsell got in contact with Pelak who agreed to become her business partner.
Safflower Street’s new home spans 1,300-square-feet in a former pharmacy and will feature a large kitchen for retail and commercial baking. Customers can expect a primarily counter-service format with around 10 seats inside. Parsell and Pelak have tapped the architecture firm that worked with White Wolf Patisserie to build out the shop.
On the menu, look out for Safflower signature items like bumpy cake and giant samoa cookies made with date caramel, tahini, and cashew butter. The shop will offer primarily cakes by-the-slice and other single-serving desserts with a handful of whole cakes available daily for carryout. Parsell also plans to offer soups and other light meals. Everything on site is made with gluten-free ingredients, so Safflower’s products are considered celiac-safe.
Construction is estimated to take roughly two months. In the meantime, Parsell and Palek are looking for another temporary kitchen space. Stay tuned for more updates as the project moves forward.