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Vegan bakery to close St. Pete storefront

Ashley Morales

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Valhalla Bakery will close its doors after Feb 14. and combine operations with Valkyrie Donuts. Photos: Ashley Morales.

Valhalla Bakery, one of St. Petersburg’s few all-vegan bakeries, will close its storefront in February.

The bakery, which opened in March 2020 at 2462 Central Ave., in the Grand Central district, will close Feb. 14. Owner Celine Beltgens said the decision comes amid unprecedented challenges faced by small businesses, exacerbated by post-Covid supply chain disruptions, soaring ingredient and packaging costs, and economic strains on consumers. 

“People think when you’re a small business owner that you’re flush, but you’re not. I might make money, but then when stuff like this happens, I’ve lost everything in the last six months. I’m living less than paycheck to paycheck,” Beltgens said. “I’ve been working with the SBA [Small Business Administration] and going to meetings with the federal government to advocate for small businesses because it’s not just me. All of us [small business owners] are taking out predatory loans on predatory loans to stay afloat, stacking a house of cards.”

Beltgens also operates Valkyrie Donuts at 2444 Central, and owns a Valhalla Bakery and a Valkyrie Donuts location in Orlando. She said sales are down across all four of her stores, bringing in around half of what she projected to earn this year, all while costs have continued to rise.

“I will probably be closing the [Orlando] donut shop at the end of this year. We have a couple of months left on the lease. I don’t know if we’ll condense that or not, but probably not because of the investment to condense that location,” Beltgens explained.

Valhalla Bakery owner Celine Beltgens said she will be released from her lease early to close the bakery, and the building owner plans to sell the building at 2462 Central Ave.

The team at Valhalla Bakery acknowledged the emotional challenge of making such decisions in an Instagram post, which also announced reduced operating hours, with the bakery now open four days a week, from Thursday to Sunday, until it closes up shop. However, Valhalla Bakery will still have a presence in the Sunshine City with plans to consolidate operations and run both stores from the Valkyrie Donuts location, trimming down their menus to serve only the best-selling items. Beltgens acknowledged the difficulty of the situation and highlighted the necessity of adapting to ensure the business’s survival.

“I think that the reality is people are hoping that we’re gonna come out of this, but I’m not gonna hang my hat on hope,” Beltgens said. “I’m going to protect my staff and I’m going to protect what little I have left. I liken it to battening down the hatches before a storm hits. I’m not going to be in chaos mode; I need to protect their jobs and make sure we’re okay.”

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