Bread Square vegan bakery rises in downtown Grand Rapids


Bread Square plans to be both a vegan bakery and community center for vegan thought. Courtesy Bread Square

West Michigan will soon be getting its first vegan bakery.

Offering all vegan and gluten-free breads, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, pies and pastries, the collective known as the Bread Square project will serve as the baking and catering arm of the Bartertown Diner, a vegan and vegetarian collective diner run democratically by its members.

Bread Square’s space, which is expected to open to the public in about three months, will be at 8 Jefferson St. SE, Grand Rapids, neighboring Bartertown’s location at 6 Jefferson St. SE.

Matthew Russell, a collective member at Bartertown, will serve as bakery officer at Bread Square.

“It's hard enough finding vegan-baked goods when you've got enough time to look, but when you're in a hurry and can't make them yourself, it's nearly impossible in this town,” he said. “I'd like to change that, and I'd like to do it in a way that the city and the community can benefit from.”

Russell also runs Wednesday Evening Cookies, a vegan dessert and baked goods bicycle-delivery company based in Grand Rapids. Evening Cookies, however, will be run separate from Bread Square, he said.

Russell has been baking for Evening Cookies for about four years, he said, supplying the diner and a few other shops in town with vegan and gluten free baked goods.

“Expanding the diner into a bakery was a logical step, given how much bread and baked goods we use on a given day, and how much of that work could be done in-house with a little more work space,” Russell said.

With help from other vegan lovers, he plans on making Bread Square an institution in vegan food and thought for West Michigan, offering classes, literature and, of course, baked goods.

“I love baking, and I wouldn't consider any other style but vegan,” he said. “It's a lifestyle that refuses the use of animal products and therefore refuses animal exploitation. Working ‘cruelty free,’ to us, is something that the world can only benefit from, especially when the products we buy and use are locally raised, supporting local people, and sustainable, supporting the earth. Grand Rapids just happens to be where we live and enjoy living.”

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