Benjamin Tehrani and Hakeem Moore already shared an unusual business pairing culturally, so adding another element to the stew certainly doesn’t seem out of place.
Starting Oct. 18, the I Want Moore Bakery owned by Tehrani (an Iranian Jew) and Moore (who grew up in a Muslim and Christian family in Philadelphia and Virginia) will merge with Tasty Twisters, a longtime pretzel bakery owned by the Greek Loucas Louca at 5002 Umbria St. in Manayunk.
About three years ago, Tehrani and Moore opened I Want Moore Bakery, at 220 Krams Ave. in Manayunk, where they sell bread, tarts and cakes, among other baked goods. The bakery, supervised by Keystone K, doesn’t have a storefront, but it does have an online store at iwantmoorebakery.com.
Moore said business was really picking up earlier this year, and then the pandemic hit. The bakery lost as much as 80% of its wholesale business.
“Synagogues and schools were our primary clients, and they weren’t open or having events,” he said.
I Want Moore Bakery needed a change in plans. And before he retired to Israel, Rabbi Naftoli Eisemann, who served as the kashrus administrator for Community Kashrus of Philadelphia (Keystone-K), put the bakery in touch with Tasty Twisters, which is also certified by Keystone-K.
“We didn’t know they were this close to us,” Moore said. “They were just minutes from us.”
Aside from pretzels and a few other items, the store will carry I Want Moore’s nondairy/pareve and dairy pastries, as well as coffee, with delivery available through Uber Eats and GrubHub.
“We’re going to start slowly just to see how it goes,” Louca said, noting that customer feedback will determine how the merged bakeries evolve.
If the partnership goes well, the product mix might be expanded and the small shop remodeled.
“It seems like people are very interested and very excited,” Louca said. “I get a lot of positive comments.”
Tasty Twisters’ web site said the business is family-owned and operated, with “roots tracing back to the early 1900s both in the United States and Europe.”
Tehrani and Moore’s partnership developed in a roundabout way.
After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Tehrani moved to Pennsylvania, where a brother lived. Eventually, he and two brothers started a rug business. After more than 40 years of running Tehrani Brothers Oriental Rugs, Tehrani wanted a change, so he became a mashgiach.
Moore, meanwhile, graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2010, then worked for a series of bakeries, becoming interested in the idea of one day having his own establishment. He had his first experience making kosher baked goods at Six Points Kosher Events in King of Prussia.
Moore and Tehrani met at the since-closed Dairy Express in Merion Station, where Tehrani worked as a mashgiach. That’s where the two met, starting an improbable chain of events, with Moore handling the baking and Tehrani overseeing the business side.