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Milwaukee’s Vegan Bakery Pop-up – Shepherd Express

Moon Cherry Sweets are a vegan bakery pop-up started by Jack O’Grady and Chase Rolan, who are also known for co-owning fusion vegan kitchen pop-up Maya Ophelia’s. Launched earlier this year in January, Moon Cherry Sweets takes their culinary endeavors in a new direction by specializing in sweet and savory pastries. Black, Brown and Indigenous trans folks eat free; no one is ever turned away.

O’Grady shares how they conceptualized Moon Cherry Sweets. “We wanted to create a bakery that coincided with Chase and I’s first-gen roots by having stuff we grew up eating that we couldn’t find vegan in Milwaukee; we also wanted to not just have it be the same stuff our grandparents make so that we could put our own twist on things. It’s not easy for trans folks out here so we wanted to create joy within the community in a positive way.”

Their first pop-up was at Cactus Club in February. O’Grady continued, “The pandemic was really hard on Maya Ophelia’s. We owned and operated our own food truck and we didn’t have investors or any wild amount of money, plus we started right before everything got shut down. Chase and I had to go back to working jobs again; I went back to Cactus Club, and I got this idea there with Kelsey where I’d work Sunday mornings but would make it into a social event. It was at a time where a lot of us were figuring out how to socialize again, and that’s when we got the idea to offer a bakery along with the non-alcoholic offerings Cactus Club had. I came up with a menu of different coffee drinks we could make, and that became the first pop-up.”

While Rolan has been head chef of Maya Ophelia’s, O’Grady fills that role for Moon Cherry Sweets while Rolan takes charge of marketing and graphic design. The bakery’s name comes from Rolan’s pet name for O’Grady. “People think it’s a Prince reference or some hipster wiccan name but it’s not,” O’Grady laughed.

Moon Cherry Sweets’ offerings have included chocolate-covered donuts, ube whoopie pies, croissants, cookies and many other tasty treats. “When I was a kid I didn’t get to go to big, fancy bakeries,” O’Grady said. “It’s heavily influenced by going to the gas station with my dad every Sunday morning. He’d get a paper and a coffee and I’d get chocolate milk and then he’d let me pick out a Little Debbie or Hostess treat, so it’s a big homage to that.”

They recently did another pop-up at the Crossroads Collective on Milwaukee’s East Side, where they plan to continue doing pop-ups one Saturday a month. They will be at Cactus Club Sunday, Sept. 9, where they will offer brunch fare with donuts and savory pastries. In the coming months Moon Cherry Sweets plan to start selling their treats at a popular local restaurant as well as continue having pop-ups in more places. “We want to help foster communities all over Wisconsin if we can,” O’Grady said.

To get in touch, email Moon Cherry Sweets at maya.ophelias@gmail.com or visit their Instagram @moon_cherry_sweets.




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