Diverse Pair Open Manayunk Kosher Bakery

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Hakeem Moore and Benjamin Tehrani are business partners. | Photo provided

Benjamin Tehrani and Hakeem Moore were born on opposite sides of the world, decades apart and into different religions, yet they had an immediate connection.

The pair recently opened a kosher bakery, 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, does not have a storefront, but it does have an online store at iwantmoorebakery.com, and customers can call and pick up orders. I Want Moore Bakery also does catering and delivery.

“Since I was a kid, I loved to bake,” said Tehrani, a member of Lower Merion Synagogue. “That was my passion, to open a bakery.”

Tehrani grew up in a Jewish family in Iran. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, he moved to Pennsylvania, where a brother lived. Eventually, he and two brothers started an oriental rug business. After more than 40 years of running Tehrani Brothers Oriental Rugs, Tehrani wanted a change, so he started working as a mashgiach.

Moore, meanwhile, grew up in a Muslim and Christian family in the Philadelphia area and Virginia. He recalled a childhood watching his grandmother and great-grandmother bake peanut butter cookies, and helping them put a fork imprint on the top of each one. After graduating from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2010, he worked for a series of bakeries and became interested in the idea of one day having his own.

He ended up at David Magerman’s Six Points Kosher Events in King of Prussia and had his first experience making kosher baked goods — pareve and chalav yisrael. At the time, he was looking for a job at a different bakery and found the ad for the catering company, which didn’t mention it was kosher. He didn’t find out until he got there and was amazed at how many baked goods were delicious and non-dairy, and as time went by, he learned more about kashrut.

“I was just really intrigued by it and interested in being able to make delicious baked goods for non-dairy and also dairy,” Moore said. “It was just something I was ready to do; open up a bakery that I can continue to do non-dairy and dairy options for the general public, just show them that non-dairy can be just as delicious as dairy items.”

Despite not being Jewish, Moore said he has a great respect for the community and for kashrut.

When Magerman downsized Six Points Kosher Events, Moore moved to the Dairy Express on Montgomery Avenue, where Tehrani worked as a mashgiach. That’s where the two met.

“We love each other,” Tehrani laughed.

Despite their different backgrounds, they hit it off right away. Moore said it was really Tehrani’s jokes that bonded them together.

“We just had a genuine connection, talking and laughing,” Moore said. “There would be times that I’m driving home and just remembering some of the stuff that we would talk about or the jokes that he would say at work, and I’m just laughing in the car. I just knew that it was an instant connection with him. That was just a friendship at first, but then we started talking about business and just talking about things that were happening [at the Dairy Express] that we agreed or didn’t agree with. … We just felt that we should not end this friendship when [the Dairy Express] closed down and just to move forward with each other.”

They started talking about opening a bakery together and found that they agreed on every aspect of how a potential bakery should be run. In June 2017, they decided to open it. Between Tehrani’s business acumen and Moore’s baking skills, they felt the timing was right.

“I’m in business for 40 years. I know how to do it,” Tehrani said. “I’m not a person who just came from [another] country. I have experience, and he knows how to do the baking, and we put it together.”

Moore also felt like the demand for another kosher bakery was there as well.

A cake at I Want Moore Bakery | Photo provided

“I was just seeing that there was a lack of kosher baked goods that was delicious and also modern, just with a modern twist,” he said. “The time was now to be able to do that.”

The two opened the bakery in October with financial support from Magerman and made the announcement about it two weeks ago. They first wanted to make sure everything, such as the website, was fully operational.

At I Want Moore Bakery, Moore handles the baking, while Tehrani oversees the business side, such as trying to increase the customer base by promoting the bakery to synagogues.

Tehrani said he would like to start incorporating his Persian heritage into the bakery, by adding some Middle Eastern pastries to the menu in the future.

“Right now, our menu, it’s a good amount of products that we offer for the public, which is on the website,” Moore said. “I do plan on expanding the cake menu, being able to do more wedding cakes and going into that field because that’s something that I also see lacks in the community and this area — kosher wedding cakes. That’s something that we plan on doing later on and also opening up a storefront.”

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