Like the Valkyries of Norse mythology who guide deserving souls to Valhalla, where they eat and drink for eternity, John Pugh and Marcus Vahle believe their pastries will transport your tastes buds to a realm of culinary enlightenment.
After a year spent baking at Manchester’s Fulton Commons and slinging vegan treats from a food trailer, the pair opened Valkyrie Doughnuts at 601 Lincoln Ave. in Bellevue.
Every menu item, from the doughnuts, brownies and pies to the cookies, cinnamon rolls and breakfast sandwiches, is egg- and dairy-free.
“We are not here just for the vegans; we make delicious treats for everybody,” says Vahle, who helped launch the Florida-based business in 2016.
Vahle’s friend, Celine Duvoisin, runs Valhalla Bakery, a vegan enterprise with two locations in the Sunshine State. When she couldn’t keep doughnuts in stock, Vahle convinced her to open a separate spot specializing in the large, square treats. (The shape allows them to use more of the dough, which cuts down on food waste.)
The doughnuts took off like a Valkyrie on a flying horse.
Now Pittsburgh — a bona fide doughnut town — is getting a taste of the confections made with plant-based ingredients. There are seven core flavors available (glazed is the most popular). Each week, the bakers introduce two featured doughnuts to the lineup and offer seasonal sweets to celebrate holidays and events.
You’ll soon be able to wash down the yeast-raised delights with coffee from de Fer based in the Strip District.
Although operating hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, order online or show up early, as they often sell out by noon. On the rare occasion that there are leftovers, the goodies are donated to Light of Life Rescue Mission on the North Side.
Valkyrie, which occupies a former pizza parlor in Bellevue, has amassed a loyal following. One customer, Jeremy Murphy, loved the doughnuts so much he now manages the store.
But you don’t have to go to Bellevue (although you should). Now that the weather is warming up, the Valkyrie food trailer will be stopping at events throughout the city, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Bigelow Bash on April 10 and the Pittsburgh VegFest on Aug. 27.
On Friday, April 1, from 6 to 8 p.m., the pastry crew is teaming up with the folks at Necromancer Brewing Co. in Ross Township to host a ticketed beer and doughnut pairing event.
Brewmaster Lauren Hughes took inspiration from two of the bakery’s offerings to create a duo of distinct beers: Keres, a strawberry sour, and Valkyrie, an Imperial coffee stout that mimics the flavor profile of their decadent brownie.
For Vahle and Pugh, who spent decades traveling the world creating exhibitions for PGA tournaments and BMW auto shows, owning a small business is a nice change of pace. Pugh, a Sewickley native, says they’re still creating fun and vibrant displays, only now people can now eat the fruits of their labor.
While the pair hopes to expand the Valkyrie brand to other areas of the city and beyond, for now, they’re focused on putting down roots in Bellevue.
“It’s a real privilege to make a doughnut and watch a customer enjoy it right in front of me,” Vahle says. “We’re helping people eat more plant-based food by making it delicious, not scary and weird.”