Priory Fine Pastries celebrates 5 years of business with biggest cupcake in the city


Longtime baker George Mandl, left, and current Head Baker Darrin McMillen, right, discuss the equipment used in the bakery’s kitchen. Mandl advised the Graf family on purchasing much of its culinary appliances when it opened. (Photo/Webster)

In marriage, wood is the traditional gift for a fifth anniversary. But in its fifth year in business, Priory Fine Pastries is giving something a little more appetizing to its patrons.

At a crowded celebration in its East Ohio Street shop Monday evening, the bakery unveiled its new line of gourmet cupcakes, including a new three-pound Colossal Cupcake, to thank the community that has supported it since its birth in November 2004.

Ed Graf, who co-owns the Historic Deutschtown bakery with his son John, thanked the various Northside folks who helped him get the bakery off the ground.

“We were sitting around six years ago with friends and neighbors, and we asked [the question] ‘What would we like to see in the neighborhood.’ And we came up with a bakery,” Ed said.

He said it took the prompting of other civic-minded neighbors to commit to the bakery, since a new pastry shop hadn’t opened in Pittsburgh in 40 years to his knowledge.

He credited Robin Rosemary Miller of the Northside/Northshore Chamber of Commerce with lending promotional support and the Northside Community Development Fund with lending the financial support to open the bakery’s doors.

Head Baker Darrin McMillen, who has been with the Priory since the beginning, thanked his mother for providing many of the traditional recipes that have become the Priory’s staple.

“I’ve always wanted to open my own bakery and the Grafs provided that dream,” McMillen said.

The Graf’s original recipe consultant, George Mandl, was on hand to try the bakery’s new sugary creations. Mandl, a third-generation baker who owned his own business in Avalon for 32 years, advised the Graf family on the equipment purchases and operations during the startup phase.

“When I came here, it was just a shell. Now it looks tremendous,” Mandl said of the building, formerly a used furniture store. “I admire Ed and [his wife] Mary Ann for opening what seemed at the time like a down business.”

According to Ed, the business is now thriving. Beside the new line of cupcakes and cookies, Ed said the little business has expanded to sell goods to the city’s three professional sports teams. The Priory now even sells their baked goods in the luxury boxes at Penguins games.

But the growth won’t stop there, McMillen promised. “We’re trying to make some inroads into the downtown businesses,” he said, adding that he was now offering sandwich croissants at catered gatherings.

And having Pittsburgh’s largest cupcake can’t hurt matters either.
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