Photos by Lynne Deliman
Crafton residents Brandy and Leon Carroll opened It's A Pizza Cake Cafe in the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing in McKees Rocks this week.
By Jamie Wiggan
What started as passions for baking pizza and cake at home have now morphed into a full-time occupation for Brandy and Leon Carroll.
Growing increasingly frustrated with their day jobs, the Carrolls tendered their resignations last July, going all-in on a novel dining concept pairing each of their signature edibles.
The outcome: It’s A Pizza Cake Cafe (think “piece of cake”) opened March 29 in the Shoppes at Chartiers Crossing in McKees Rocks.
Leon, who spent more than 10 years in the food industry before lately taking work at a steel mill, first began making pizzas as a means of relaxation — but he quickly gained a reputation among friends and guests who encouraged him to take his talents to the market. Meanwhile, Brandy, a former banker, began baking cakes after the birth of her 10-year-old daughter and soon after found herself in demand as a supplier to baby showers, birthdays and other festive occasions.
Before landing on the pizza-cake concept, each mulled over ideas to make businesses out of their separate crafts.
“[Eventually,] we thought why don’t we do it together?” Brandy said.
The Crafton residents said they chose McKees Rocks because they see its potential and feel connected to the community through family connections on both sides who at one time called it home.
“We want to bring something back to the community,” said Brandy.
In addition to pizzas of many toppings, the cafe offers breakfast calzones filled with combinations of breakfast favorites — eggs, cheese, sausages, bacon and more.
Their offering of home-baked desserts ranges from classic cupcakes to cinnamon rolls, fruit pies and cheesecakes.
By limiting the menu to two core items, Brandy said they can prioritize strong “soulful” flavors. “I want to put my heart and soul into it,” she said.
The Carrolls’ arrival is lining up with other development projects that set the shopping plaza on course to reach full occupancy this summer for the first time in nearly 15 years.
These involve a reshuffling of the Cricket Wireless store into a larger storefront formerly occupied by Culture Kicks and Clothing, while work is already underway to open up a JP Morgan Chase franchise in place of the wireless store.
Craig Rippole, shopping center owner, sees the influx of business as an early sign the newly-constructed Allegheny County Housing Authority headquarters is driving up demand as stakeholders promised it would.
“The Borough and Trinity Commercial Development partnership plan to redevelop and build an office building for the Allegheny County Housing Authority is working,” he said. “Their 75 employees and the added daytime foot traffic are making an impact as anticipated.”
It’s A Pizza Cake Cafe, 112 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks, is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.