Flakely Gluten Free opens “Pastry ATM” to serve freshly frozen baked goods

Lila Colello

Beginning this week, locals will be able to get both sweet and savory gluten-free baked goods instantly with a new “Pastry ATM” serving up croissants, homemade pop tarts and more in South Philly.

Manayunk’s Flakely Gluten Free bakery has installed its own vending machine at Salt & Vinegar (905 S. 9th Street) and the dessert dispenser will operate similarly to an Amazon Fresh store with customers having access to the treats with just a swipe of your card.

Flakely comes from pastry chef Lila Colello, and as a release notes, the local spot was created out of necessity for its owner. Without much of a gluten-free industry to speak of at the time, Colello, who was unable to work within her medium due to being diagnosed with celiac disease took her training, developed recipes, taught herself food science, and discovered how to produce different baked goods without gluten.

Her diagnosis came after she spent time training at the French Culinary Institute in New York City and worked under Wolfgang Puck, Eric Ripert, and Stephen Starr in 2010. The pastry chef then spent years developing recipes and opened up Flakely in 2021 — where it remains to this day inside the pink door at 220 Krams Avenue — and joined a small list of bakeries in the world specializing in gluten-free croissants, French-style breads, bagels, and other pastries.

Flakely still operates as a bake-to-order venue, immediately freezing their freshly baked goods to give to customers to enjoy at home. They also generally sell out most weeks, making the brand a zero-waste bakery, but with recent staffing issues, the storefront has been scaling down to two days a week. That’s where the idea of an “unmanned store” was born for Colello.

“I am most excited to increase access to our products during what would be considered ‘normal business hours,’ especially in South Philly where our biggest fan-base seems to be,” Colello noted in a statement.

“We used to do pop-ups at Herman’s Coffee, and we would see lines down the block and often sell out in minutes, even during freezing cold months. This will allow some of our most loyal customers to have easier access to our products, which means a lot to me as a chef, and especially as a gluten-free baker who understands how difficult it can be to find quality baked goods for those suffering from celiac disease.”

The specific idea is a pastry vending machine, or “ATM” as it’s branded, which will allow Flakely to grow in different locations around Philadelphia and the suburbs.

How it works: Customers can tap their credit card and open the door. Once inside, they can grab what they’d like, and with each item being tagged with a microchip, any product that leaves the freezer will be charged to the customer, the release explains.

As of now, this first location will begin serving up croissants, bagels, baguettes, cakes, Danish, pop-tarts, and more beginning June 18. All items need to be kept frozen, and can either be thawed and served, or heated up at home. The retail has “smart freezers” and hold about 60 items at a time.

“An additional goal of mine is to bring our gluten-free products and customers into other small businesses,” Colello finished. “The idea is to lift each other up. Jen Herzeg from Salt & Vinegar has carried our goods since she’s been open, so this is a new way to bring more of our customers into her shop with a larger variety to help both of our businesses, as well as the local brands she carries in her store, which in turn helps more and more Philly-based businesses. This is the ultimate win, win, win.”

Flakely in Manayunk is open Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 2 p.m., the shop will switch to being open three days per week later this summer. The Flakely ATM will be available to customers during hours that Salt & Vinegar is open, which is seven days a week beginning at 10 a.m. For full hours and more information, visit Salt & Vinegar’s website, salt-and-vinegar.com and for more information on Flakely, visit flakelygf.com