In 2018, Ben Fine and Will Marrow started making sweets in the windowless basement kitchen of Verona United Methodist Church. Now the married couple has a storefront at 317 S. Trenton Ave. in Wilkinsburg where you can stock up on their heavenly treats.
Since September, the tiny BB & Bur Pastry Kitchen and Bakery has been doing big business, churning out made-to-order cakes and nostalgic desserts reminiscent of Little Debbie snack cakes, but with all-natural ingredients.
Oatmeal Cream Pies, Fudge Rounds (made with chocolate from Mon Aimee Chocolat) and other cookie sandwiches are popular items — as are the scones, brownies and heart tarts, which are cream cheese pie dough filled with house-made jam.
Fine and Marrow met while studying at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. They worked together at East Liberty’s Vanilla Pastry Studio and separately at various eateries around town, from Eleven to Square Café.
Marrow was an artistic kid and transferred those skills into making pastries, including Ben Roethlisberger’s wedding cake. Fine is more business-minded.
“Our skills complement each other really well,” Fine says. “Will’s so creative and I am really organized. It’s a good balance.”
Eventually, they decided to use their years of experience in the industry to launch their own endeavor. From the church kitchen, they created cakes for all occasions and supplied local shops — including Mechanic Coffee Co. in Verona and all Coffee Tree Roasters locations — along with making sweets, including gluten-free and vegan options.
To build on their success, the pair took over a 900-square-foot former art gallery in Wilkinsburg, installed a kitchen and opened the doors on Sept. 7, 2021. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m.to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Although BB & Bur – which stands for Baker Ben and a shortened version of Marrow’s nickname Wilbur – is located off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood, folks from all over the region are making their way to South Trenton Avenue to get their sugar fix.
Recently, a large walking group from a local senior citizens center stopped by to sip Mechanic Coffee and gobble up the bakery’s goodies, including muffins, French macarons, biscotti and BB Cakes, which are vanilla sponge cakes filled with marshmallow buttercream and brushed with house-made raspberry jam and rolled in coconut.
Fans can even tout their BB & Bur loyalty with a branded sweatshirt that reads “This is my goodie hoodie.”
Can’t make it to the shop? In addition to supplying Verona’s Mechanic Coffee Co., BB & Bur treats can also be found at all Yinz Coffee locations, The Black Canary in Springdale, Food for Thought in Oakland and Parisi Café & Italian Market in Swissvale.
Fine and Marrow are excited to build a business in the community and hope customers from outside the area explore all the things Wilkinsburg has to offer, such as Fungus Books, Knotzland, Rebel Bred Clothing and the revitalized train station.
“The diversity is awesome,” Marrow says of the neighborhood. “It’s such an interesting mix of people and that was really important to us.”