A new vegan bakery opened its doors in Dallas last month. Sugar Fang Vegan Bakery, owned by Sam Wynne of BrainDead Brewing and Bowls & Tacos, brings dairy-free, plant-based baked goods to Deep Ellum.
Malikei Hetherington is the pastry chef and manager of this new concept. Trained in vegan cooking in Portland, Oregon, he moved to Dallas and started working at BrainDead a year ago. There, he introduced vegetarian and vegan items to the previously meat-heavy menu.
“I talked with Sam Wynne and Jeff Fryman, who own BrainDead, Bowls and Tacos and now Sugar Fang. I told them that I see this market that you haven’t really tapped into and I think there’s something there,” Hetherington says. Wynne and Fryman were “absolutely stoked and supportive, so we started our vegan and vegetarian endeavor at BrainDead last June.”
Hetherington received positive feedback from this menu shift.
“A lot more people started coming to the brewery because we were being inclusive of everybody’s eating habits," he says. "From there, we expanded it over to Bowls and Tacos, where I’m the kitchen manager and chef.”
Hetherington has long wanted to open a vegan bakery.
“It was always part of my long-term game,” he says, “it was just a question of when I’d have the means to do it.”
Sugar Fang fills a need in a city with an increasing hunger for meat-free dishes.
“There aren’t many vegan and vegetarian options in Dallas," Hetherington says. "Great establishments do exist here; there’s just not an abundance of them yet.
“It was just me at Sugar Fang for quite some time. I was working nonstop, trying to get the physical space set up, doing the ordering, getting recipes put together. Sam [Wynne] was my counterpart, involved in everything else.”
Sugar Fang is now growing and recently hired a pastry chef, Amaris Riddle, who comes from a vegan pastry background, and Susana Soto, lead decorator, who also comes from a vegan background.
Hetherington sees the importance of getting comments and inspiration from his customers, especially considering their dietary limitations.
“We did a soft opening because I wanted to be able to get feedback from the customers to see what they’re wanting, what they’re craving, what’s popular, what’s not … I wanted to get my bearings before opening the doors fully," he says.
Sugar Fang’s menu changes daily. While you’ll see many of the same items — muffins ($3), cupcakes ($3.50), brownies ($2.50), cookie sandwiches ($4) — the flavors are different each day.
“We come up with fun and exciting things. I want to give my staff creative freedom to do what inspires them,” Hetherington says. “You get the best results when the food is made with love. I want to give my staff the reins and say ‘OK, go off, have fun, I trust you.’”
The most popular menu item are the skullettes ($6.50), Hetherington’s creation. They are a cross between a cupcake and doughnut. The pastry is a cake base, a glaze filling and is topped with vegan buttercream.
“They sell out first every day,” Hetherington says. “People come in specifically to try those.”
Cinnamon rolls ($5) are also popular.
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“It’s a classic cinnamon roll. They’re massive because I wanted to make them shareable," he says. "One of the things I found with vegan food is that you eat it and feel great, but then you’re hungry soon after. So I wanted some comfort food that you could chow down on.”
Hetherington hopes Sugar Fang has appeal for more than just vegans.
“I’m excited to be here and would love for more people to come in and check us out, even if you’re not vegan," he says. "I have BrainDead staff who are very carnivorous, meat and potatoes-heavy people, but they rave about everything here. We want to share the love and be part of the community in Deep Ellum and Dallas, in general.”
Sugar Fang, 3400 Commerce St. (Deep Ellum)