After her job at an investment bank in New York City came to an end, Rebecca Catacalos planned on becoming an interior designer. But, inspired by her daughter Brittany’s culinary talents, Catacalos decided to rethink her post-banking days.
“I thought it might be fun just to have a small family business,” Catacalos explains. “So I started making granola.”
Catacalos started making and selling her granola at farmers markets around New York City, but soon left the big city for the wide open spaces of the Lehigh Valley, specifically Allentown, home to her daughter Brittany and Brittany’s family.
After her re-location, Catacalos’s business evolved into a pudding baking operation. And as more and more consumers responded positively to Catacalos’s selection of rice, chocolate mousse and tiramisu pudding, she had the confidence to expand the business.
Catacalos was renting commercial kitchen space throughout the Allentown area to bake her products. One day, Catacalos was driving by a cafe space in South Whitehall Township that had closed during the pandemic. Fortunately for her, sales had increased during the pandemic enough that it made sense for her to take over the space, not just for the commercial kitchen, but also to make use of the cafe.
With the cafe and bakery branded, in honor of her daughter, as Brittany Natural Foods, Catalacos is now making smoothies, fresh wraps and salads for her clientele in addition to producing her line of puddings for wholesale to local shops. But as any food business can attest, trying to manage both a wholesale production operation and a retail cafe can be really hard. So it was fortuitous when Catalacos met the wholesale buyers at Weavers Way cooperative grocery stores in the Philly area.
It just makes me feel how supportive and welcoming they’ve been to me as a vendor.”
— Rebecca Catacalos, owner of Brittany Natural Foods
“I also deal with the bigger grocery chains too and they’re great,” Catalacos explains. “But you just get so much support with Weavers Way, and they really do help small businesses and the community. That’s kind of the beauty of it because it gives the consumer the opportunity to have a lot of unique items that you can’t get at the larger stores.”
Just being part of that vibrant world of the Weavers Way community has value to Catalacos. For example, she had the opportunity to meet Silvia Lucci from LUHV Foods, and now Catalacos is carrying LUHV’s vegan burger in her cafe, bringing a little taste of Philly’s vegan food scene to the Lehigh Valley.
That cross-state exchange of culinary delights will continue this year when Weavers Way celebrates its 50th anniversary with a party for which Brittany Natural Foods will be providing the dessert. When asked about the milestone, Catalacos had nothing but admiration.
“I think it’s amazing firstly, that they’ve been operating for 50 years,” she enthuses. “I mean, that’s a true feat and it shows the cooperation of everyone involved.”
But when asked about what it means for her to have been specifically asked to do a dessert cup for such a momentous celebration, Catalacos responds on a personal level.
“It just makes me feel how supportive and welcoming they’ve been to me as a vendor. I just can’t tell you how much appreciation and love I have for these people.”
Look for two special Brittany Natural Foods desserts, Red Velvet Pudding cups and Chocolate Bomb, this April at Weavers Way locations as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.