East Durham Bake Shop: Still standing strong

In the kitchen at the East Durham Bake Shop, Ben Filippo pours ingredients for one of his homemade recipes. (Staff photo by Arielle Cummings)


What started as a small one-person operation, known as East Durham Pie Company, has now blossomed into a cozy, independent bakery shop.

On the corner of Driver Street and Angier Ave., in Old East Durham, sits one of the sweetest delights. The East Durham Bake shop, launched last March by Ali Rudel, has now become a local favorite.

Although it is in an intersection that has struggled to attract new businesses, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the moment you walk in. As soon as you open the door, you are welcomed with a gleeful smile from the bake shop crew, and the smell of fresh baked treats.

Almost five months in, East Durham Bake Shop is still standing strong — and so is Rudel. With two children and a small business, Rudel still finds a way to help make changes in her community. With a little help from her staff and her husband, Ben Filippo, Rudel is getting things done.

The shop offers a nice cozy little reading area, with lots of books for kids and adults, and the modern décor feels like home. There’s lots of light from the windows by the street and a variety of music playing in the background.  All you need is your gluten-free peanut butter cookie and a nice cup of hot chocolate to top off the mood. And that’s the feel they were going for, Filippo explained.

“We really wanted to make sure in as many ways as possible that this space was accessible… and one aspect of that was creating a community vision for that accessibility,” said Filippo.

Outside of the shop is a little patio with a few tables.

The shop has gained a mixed variety of customers, ranging from young families to older couples to groups of friends just hanging out. It seems that Rudel’s goal of helping her community is coming to fruition. East Durham Bake shop seems to be helping revive an area of Durham that somehow became forgotten.

Rudel and Filippo knew that in order to make the shop sustainable, they would have to cater to a wide ray of different customers throughout the city, but they still wanted to make sure that the shop had a Southern feel.

“We really wanted a space where our neighbors could just hang out,” said Filippo.

Only a few months in, East Durham Bake Shop has really created that space, not just for their neighbors, but also for the people in the community of Old East Durham and for their friends.

Rudel’s best friend, Victoria Boulou Basis, who is a journalist, talked about the dedication that Rudel puts into the bake shop.

“She’s (Rudel) an expert at a lot of what she does,” said Basis. “She works around the clock, she’s married with children, and growing a business and a family on top of that, which is very admirable.”

What started out as East Durham Pies, when Rudel and Filippo were working from out of the kitchen of their home, has now evolved into the East Durham Bake Shop. Rudel wanted to change the name because she didn’t want people to think that the new shop would only serve pies, because East Durham Back Shop is much more than pies.

In fact, the shop serves an assortment of teas, coffee, and hot chocolate.The shop works with Carrboro Coffee, a local premier artisan roaster, who sends people  to help train at the shop when they hire a new person.

“No one does just one thing,” said Filippo.

Along with working with local food business, the shop has also teamed up with Compost Now. Compost Now takes the shop’s food waste and shares it with their garden partners to help build a more sustainable food system. Working with this local business helps Rudel with her goal of keeping everything in the community.

By composting food waste, the bake shop is able to make sure that all of the packaging and products sold are either composted or recyclable.

If that wasn’t enough giving back, East Durham Bake Shop works with Durham Living Wage Project, to create sustainability for its employees, even though it’s a new small business. The East Durham Bake shop is still committed to paying their employees a living wage while offering paid time off.

That’s something you have to wait months to get at a big corporation, if that.

Some places still work off the state’s minimum wage, yet here is East Durham Bake Shop still growing, yet working on growing the benefits that they can offer to their employees.

The doors that opened in late March of 2018 are expanding, not only in their menu, but in customers. With the wide variety of baked goods, beverages and simple lunch items that highlight the produce that is seasonally available, East Durham Bake Shop is here, helping to revive Durham.