THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO THURSDAYS- STICKY FINGERS BAKERY
I am very excited about today's edition of The Truth According To..! I have the pleasure of introducing you to the owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery in Washington D.C., Doron Greenblatt Petersan. Sticky Fingers is a vegan bakery/cafe in the Columbia Heights section of Washington, D.C. I went up to the area for the 4th of July weekend to see my family and I ran across an ad for Sticky Fingers in my VegNews magazine. After checking it out online, I knew I had to get there while I was in town! I don't get home that often, so I haven't had the opportunity to check out the vegan scene in the metro area and Sticky Fingers was a great start!
I absolutely love it! The staff was very welcoming and helped me make some good choices. I had the vegan grilled cheese sandwich on multi-grain bread. They use Daiya cheese, which I have been hearing a lot about lately. It was fantastic! I also bought a vanilla cupcake with strawberry icing for myself and the chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing for my non-vegan mother to try. The cupcakes were delicious. My mom raved about hers, proving that if the food is made right, you won't miss a thing!
I contacted Doron and she was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her journey, Sticky Fingers and Veganism.
So here is the truth according to Doron!
Cwrites: How long have you been a vegan and what prompted you to become one?
Doron: I have been a vegan since I was 22 and ½, almost 15 years exactly! I was working at the Animal Care and Control Center in NYC, and working as a vet tech in for a private vet in Harlem. It all came to me one day during a surgery; the muscles of the dogs looked strikingly similar to the chicken breast I had for lunch. It took me a month or two to ‘transition’ but I went straight into vegan-hood.
Cwrites: I read that you are a certified fitness instructor and nutritionist, are you still active in both along with running the bakery?
Doron: I stopped nutrition consulting shortly after opening the bakery in 2002. It’s much easier to feed people tasty food than to get them to restrict and change their diets by traditional methods like calorie counting, cutting back etc. The secret is making good food in place of the animal laden counterparts, making them a bit healthier for the consumer, and making sure it tastes good. The bakery-cafe has always been a form of vegan activism for me. You can tell someone to do something until you are blue in the face, but you can’t convince them unless the methods are easy and in this case, tasty. Saving cows through cookies!
As for fitness, I still teach spinning classes at a local gym, Results, and a competitive athlete with my focus in cycling (Cyclocross and criterium racing). It’s amazing to have such a support group with tons of veg athletes kicking butt out there! I’m always excited to learn that someone who I’ve been riding with for years is veg or vegan, and has been for years. It’s so ‘normal’ these days.
Cwrites: When did Sticky Fingers open?
Doron: The doors opened on October 1, 2002, but had been in the works for almost 3 years prior. In 2006 we expanded into Columbia Heights, an area of DC undergoing tons of development.
Cwrites: You have a partner, Kristen, can you explain how you met and when did you decide to join forces to open Sticky Fingers?
Doron: Kirsten recently left the business to pursue her love of music and performing. She is proof that you can do anything at anytime. She is now the lead singer of the Iron Maidens, an all female tribute band to Iron Maiden. You can find her globe-trotting, rocking her heart out, and seeking out good vegan grub!
Kirsten came into the business in 2002 to partner up and be my partner in food-crime, err, biz. She and I were friends through the animal rights community, and always got along. After actively looking for a partner I tugged her heart strings and sweet tooth, and she came on board. We worked our butts off together for 7 fun years. I’m sad to see her go but excited for her, and excited for a new beginning of sorts for Sticky Fingers. Big change always forces you to take inventory and plan ahead. I’ve got lots of ideas brewing.
Cwrites: What were some of the major obstacles you faced opening a new business, especially a vegan one?
Doron: Like any small business, we were under capitalized and under educated in the business area. We quickly began to seek out friends to help us where we feel short. It’s been a working education, and active MBA. Whether you are a vegan business or not, you need to have a plan and good understanding of business, policies, government, etc. There is much more to selling treats than making tasty treats-that part was the fun part. I have grown to LOVE business, the ups and downs, and the puzzle on how to make it all come together. The vegan part is why I do what I do-it’s easy to work hard for something you believe in. Once word got out that there was new vegan sweets shop in town we couldn’t keep them away. Vegans as I am sure you are well aware, are giant foodies. Feed them good food and they will come!
Cwrites: Are most of your customers vegan?
Doron: On any given day, it’s a mix. The local community is really supportive, and the allergy folks are as well. The greenies and open minded folks seek us out as well.
Cwrites: What is your favorite item on your menu?
Doron: Today it’s cheesecake. Yesterday it was the ‘chiken ranch rap’. Tomorrow is a new day, and I heard a rumor that pies are being working on.
Cwrites: I see that you also have locations in Seoul Korea, how many and how did that come about?
That whole story is for another Thursday. Long story short, my close friend Miyun Park was on a documentary-style (think 60 minutes) show on KBS, Korean TV. She had them film a part of the show in our store as she helped us out with some design stuff at the time, and a few business-men friends saw it. They thought it would go over well with the health minded Korean’, and it has, They run a different style operation and have a varied menu, but check out their website or one of their 7 locations.
Cwrites: Your bakery does catering, mail-order delivery and wedding cakes, how many people do you have on staff to help you run a smooth operation?
Doron: 26 on any given day.
Cwrites: What advice would you give to someone that is considering opening a vegan bakery or restaurant?
Doron: Take classes on business at your local small business association. You have a responsibility to the animals to make this work, so go in prepared!
Cwrites: What else would you like readers to know about Sticky Fingers?
Doron: When we expanded in 2006 we became a bakery café, and serve everything from sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, salads, specialty coffees…AND all of our baked goods. For 2 years in a row we were the winners of the Washington City Paper’s (our local rag) best bakery (against traditional bakeries) and best vegan restaurant. Couldn’t be prouder.
Cwrites: In your opinon, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about veganism, and what advice would you give to anyone transitioning into this lifestyle?
Doron: It’s so much easier than anyone can imagine. When it’s for something bigger than you it becomes so much easier to embrace and maintain. When you think of it as a change for the better for the environment, for the animals, and for your body, it’s almost effortless!
Cwrites: Very well said!
Thank you again so much Doron for sharing your story! If you live in or visit the D.C. area, you MUST go try it for yourself. I will DEFINITELY be back! I wish nothing but continued growth and success to you Doron!
1370 Park Road N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20010
1 block north from Columbia Heights Metro