116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Local residents whose sweet tooth puts them at odds with a vegan diet or gluten restrictions can thank a church bake sale for expanding their options.
“I was making what I call sweet roll blossoms,” Andy Morlan recalled. “My wife said, ‘Would you be willing to sell those as a fundraiser?’
“As we were doing that, people were saying, ‘You should sell these, they’re really good.’”
A Johnson County Public Health license hangs from a bulletin board in the kitchen of the Morlans’ Tiffin home, also the site of Andy’s Pastry Shop.
That church fundraiser led Morlan to investigate the rules for using a home kitchen for commercial use.
“It’s way cheaper” than leasing a commercial kitchen, he said. “They come in and see that you’ve got all that you need, and you get licensed. I’m legit to be able to sell to other business and to other people.”
Which Morlan has been doing for about three years.
His exclusively vegan, gluten-free cookies, muffins, and cakes are sold direct to customers who order online and at Capanna Coffee in North Liberty.
Morlan also sells at the Iowa City Farmers Market, and he’ll be at NewBo Market in Cedar Rapids on weekends this month and in December.
The Hy-Vee grocery store at Crosspark Road in Coralville recently began stocking Andy’s Pastry Shop, too.
“I’m trying to coordinate with more businesses to have product there,” he said.
Customer feedback convinced Morlan there’s a market for gluten-free vegan treats.
“They would say, ‘Which one is gluten free,’ or ‘Which one is vegan?’” Morlan said. “I say, everything we have is vegan and gluten free,’ and they say ‘Really?’”
Morlan works three 12-hour days a week as a surgical technologist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, leaving time for baking.
“I set up the instruments for the surgeries, and I assist the doctors by handing them the instruments,” he said.
Andy’s retains its connection to the Morlans’ church, the Well of Coralville.
“We want to try and glorify God through this business,” Morlan explained.
“We don’t take any of the profits for ourselves right now. We probably give at least 90 percent of our profits away. Wherever there’s a need, we give that money.”
Those profits have supported mission projects and a family in South Africa, a practice Morlan intends to continue as the business grows.
“If it becomes a full-time thing we’ll adjust,” he said. “Some of that will pay the bills, and the rest will go out.”
Morlan launched his website about two years ago. Aside from product for the retail outlets, all baked goods are made to order.
“Being a home-based bakery I can’t have a display case here and have stuff on hand all the time,” he said. “It has to be by order.
“I put the word out on Facebook a lot, and have my own website.”
Morlan doesn’t have any dietary restrictions himself, but started looking into alternatives after an invitation to a friend’s potluck dinner.
“She said, ‘Could you make something without wheat, dairy and eggs?’ So I started doing some research and I started making some things,” he said.
“I thought, ‘This wasn’t too bad, but I can make it better.’ Then I found out how much of a need there is for this.”
Morlan researches recipes online, then adds his own touches.
“I want to make it my recipe, so I change a few things here or there,” he said. “We did lots of trial and error, taste testing with friends.”
Morlan’s muffins have become a staple.
“I put a glaze on top of every single one, so it will soak in and keep it moist,” he said.
“We’ve kept them in the refrigerator for up to a month, taken them out, and tasted them, and you can hardly tell the difference. It’s soft, it’s moist, it has a lot of flavor.”
Morlan started cooking for himself about 15 years ago after he and wife, Darlene, and their two sons grew tired of boxed dinners and prepared meals.
“We wanted to eat more healthy, so we started cooking things for ourselves,” he said. “We realized it’s not that hard to make things from scratch, so we started making more and more things from scratch and I start to enjoy it more.
“Being in the kitchen, creating things from scratch that tasted good and actually made people feel good. That makes me feel good, watching their faces.”
Owner: Andy Morlan
Address: 40 Renee Lane, Tiffin
Phone: (319) 430-4472
Morlan delivers for a fee, but most non-commercial customers pick up their orders at his front door.
“If it gets to be that big, that would be all right,” he said.
“I’ll be 60 in 10 years. It would be nice to see my recipes in the stores,” either through commercially baked products or bake-yourself mixes.
“We never want to take away our time with the Lord, or our time with each other,” he said. “That always comes first, so I’ll sacrifice the business side of it to make time for family and friends.”
Morlan inspired his son Tyler, 13, to launch his own product line to supplement his pet-sitting and dog-walking income. Monkey Business Bakery specializes in snack mixes and monster cookies.
“He said, ‘I can make things,’” Morlan said. “I said, ‘Do you want to start your own business?’
“So he actually has stuff at Hy-Vee as a 13-year-old. He came up with his own idea, what he wanted to make, and just kind of put it in play.”
Even on baking days for his business, Morelan cooks dinner for the family.
“I enjoy that,” he said. “I get done, clean everything up. It doesn’t feel like work because I get to create something that tastes good. If I can do that and bring some joy to people, to me that’s fun.”