Restaurant Review: Black-owned Bake’n Bacon is as spiritual as it is tasty

Morgan Rogers Burns Photography

It’s time to bring home the bacon.

After developing a strong following throughout the city for it’s now-famous food truck, Bake’n Bacon has a new place to call home. Located at 1148 S. 11th St. in South Philly, the long-awaited, Black-owned, brick-and-mortar version of the prize porcine-driven food truck recently opened its doors, and has been packed with patrons since.

On a recent rainy Sunday, the eatery’s tables were lined with plates of Bacon Burnt Ends pork belly in brown sugar and spice glaze, smoking racks of Hang’n Bacon, Double Load specials of thick cut bacon and brisket with loaded cheese sauce-and-jalapeños fries and many of its piled-high sandwiches. By meal’s end, B’NB eaters wolfed down helpings of friends-turned-culinary entrepreneurs Justin Coleman and Kelvin Alexander’s pound cake with a side of bacon infused caramel sauce, the bacon brownie cheesecake, or both.

“We use bacon as the star of the show, but we also use it subtly as well,” said Alexander, thinking back to their food truck’s start in 2019. “We weren’t trying to recreate the wheel. We simply re-engineered it; by showing that bacon is not your standard breakfast item on a side plate. We have presented it as a main ingredient for sandwiches, a pairing for dessert items or with our cocktails.”

Alexander mentioned that last item just as I was sampling B’NB’s literally smoked bourbon drink infused with bacon fat, next to their zesty bacon and mussels dish.

“Our focus is to be a one-stop-shop where all people with different dietary restrictions, religious beliefs, and pallets can enjoy our menu,” said Coleman, a man who connects spirituality and positive affirmation to all that he, Alexander and Bake’n Bacon behold.

Morgan Rogers Burns Photography

The Cape May-raised Coleman was a “taste tester” for his grandparents fine-meal-making, watching what they did until he could prepare the food on his own, reciting the ingredients from his grands’ hand-written cards as if they were poetry. Yet, the idea of having his own food truck and restaurant with Alexander came from the memory of Coleman’s late brother, Derek, and inspired everything from the restaurant to its signature cocktail, the Sparrow.

God is in the details of each bite at Bake’n Bacon.

“When you put out positive energy without anything in return, we believe that God blesses you for that,” said Coleman. “Being consistent in our character speaks volumes as to who we are as people. We carry that same energy into our food and our brand. Our belief in God keeps us grounded and humbled. We pull strength from God, who is the source. Affirmations are powerful because what we speak, read, and exude is what you get back. So, reading and speaking positive things into the atmosphere has helped us grow the business this fast and this successful.”

Coleman used his most positive sayings — “good enough,” “Follow your dreams” — as part of his graffiti-covered interior design in Bake’n Bacon’s dining room. This first-floor space, however, is only the tip of the bacon-flavored iceberg. Alexander and Coleman bought the bricks to the corner space, and along with what Alexander calls, “an amazing vibe to our first floor restaurant and bar”, its second floor will house an event space for weddings, birthday parties, corporate gatherings, and a third floor used as “an executive lounge that’s exclusive, only seating 12 people and will feature pairings to go with our high end bourbon and tequila bar.”

Morgan Rogers Burns Photography

Future plans laid out, breakfast and dinner menus set — and know that Bake’n Bacon are just as dynamic at making a hearty blackened salmon as they are their multitude of cured and uncured pork dishes — Alexander and Coleman are pleased to see their brick-and-mortar debut pop. They are proud to be small business owners in Philadelphia and under-40-years-of age Black entrepreneurs. But putting everything into spiritually-enlightened and socially astute perspective, Coleman makes one thing as crystal clear as his bacon is smoky.

“I want to be known as a great successful business that happens to be Black-owned,” he said. “Knowing that representation matters, we want to be a beacon of light, hope, and encouragement to not only those who look like us, but to all who are seeking inspiration.”

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