Foods & Culinary

How Merzbacher’s bread bakery runs Philly’s cheesesteak scene

“We have vents that vent the exhaust of the oven and people will run around until they find an entrance and ask, ‘Are you selling bread here? “Says Merzbachers Bakery owner Pete Merzbacher. “I don’t think all food does that, but bread does.”

Merzbacher’s is an artisanal bread bakery that produces 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of dough every week and turns them into coveted breads, potato rolls, baguettes and a variant of an English muffin called “Philly Muffin”. In the pop-up sandwich shop Frizwit, head chef Ari Miller says that the bread he chooses at Merzbacher is the key to an excellent Philly cheesesteak. “The structure of chewing this roll is really what holds it all together, and then the inside is what takes in all of the meat juice,” Miller says. “You need a role that will be a sponge, but also a container, and with a lot of taste.”

Before the pandemic, 75 to 80 percent of Merzbacher’s sales came from sales to restaurants. With restaurant restrictions and closings last year, that number has grown closer to 50 percent while the other 50 percent is from grocery stores. For example, at the Giant Food Store in the Philly area, you can find Merzbacher’s bread right under national brand items like Pepperidge Farm and Thomas’ English Muffins. “I’m trying to make a great product more accessible to more people, whether you live in Philly or the suburbs,” says Merzbacher. With the growing demand for Merzbacher’s bread from supermarkets and restaurants, his plan seems to be working.

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