Pete Merzbacher is the one man force of tireless bread baking behind Philly Bread, which has operated inside of Aladdin Pizza, located at the corner of 48th and Spruce streets, since the beginning of April.
Merzbacher, a former cook at Talula’s Garden and UMass Amherst graduate, said he taught himself to bake bread using YouTube videos and other baking websites over the past six months.
“The creation of Philly Bread was an outcome of my interest in food,” Merzbacher said.
Philly Bread operates mainly under a subscription plan; pay $24 for a month’s worth of bread, from simple sourdough rolls to baguettes, which Merzbacher calls the baker’s true test, delivered or picked up on a weekly basis.
As the only employee at Philly Bread, Merzbacher performs all of the duties for his business, claiming to consistently work 14-hour workdays, sometimes through the night, to fulfill orders.
Merzbacher said he moved to West Philadelphia to set up his new business at the Center for Culinary Enterprises, a building designed to help food start-ups, but he thought its policies were too restrictive. He said he began asking local restaurants if he could rent out space inside of their kitchens.
Muhammed Saleh, the owner of Aladdin Pizza, said Merzbacher came into his shop and asked him if he could use some of the kitchen space inside of his pizzeria. Saleh said he agreed without hesitation.
“No contract, no nothing. He was shocked,” Saleh added.
Merzbacher also spearheads Earth to Pizza, a program designed to teach children about nutrition using locally grown ingredients to make affordable pizza products. The program originally ran at Reading Terminal Market, but Merzbacher said he hopes to bring it to West Philadelphia soon.
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