By David King
In Downtown Concord, there exists a decadent bakery that is rewriting the book on the pastry business, namely cinnamon rolls. Theirs is a remarkable story of success that has also redefined the product — all of the products are fresh-baked and 100% vegan, dairy and lactose-free, egg-free and cholesterol-free, and only 650 calories for a 5-ounce roll!
It all started with the humble beginnings of Shannon Radke from Walnut Creek hobby baking out of her kitchen for weekend bake sales. The demand for her cinnamon rolls was so popular that she was inspired to open her own bakery — which she did in Berkeley in 2010 to frequent lines stretching out the door. Cinnaholic was born and aimed to set itself apart with a completely vegan product. In a few years, they were encouraged to expand.
In 2014, Shannon and her husband Florian appeared on the national TV show, “Shark Tank”. (Season 5, Episode 28 – if you want to look it up). They asked for $200,000 in return for 20 percent equity in the company so that they could open a second location. Each Shark was given their own custom-topped decadent cinnamon roll to sample and the bidding began.
But it was investor Robert Herjavec who was wowed the most. He countered with $200,000 in exchange for 40 percent equity but insisted they pursue a nationwide shipping business model. Both parties agreed on the show. However, the deal fell through as the Radkes still wanted to concentrate their efforts on having additional storefronts.
Patrons enjoy the “create-your-own” cinnamon rolls which allows customers to choose their own toppings from over 20 unique frosting flavors and a variety of fresh toppings. It is common to mix and match flavors to create a new experience with every visit. They also serve other plant-based sweet treats like made-from-scratch brownies, cookies, and edible cookie dough.
After the episode aired, the demand for the rolls exploded pushing the founders to pivot into a franchise model. Today Cinnaholic has opened close to one hundred franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Franchisees are encouraged to be involved with their community such as reaching out to the healthcare workers and schools. In Concord, they cater for all events, large and small including weddings, conferences, and conventions, as well as private home and office parties. They support our schools through fundraising efforts, donate to churches, and give their unsold to the homeless.
Fortunately for Concord, the city has the only Cinnaholic store in the Bay Area as the Berkeley location closed in May 2023 after 13 successful years due to the City’s redevelopment plans for mixed-use housing at that location.
Check out their menu of seasonal flavors of toppings. Cinnaholic is located at 2008 Salvio St. across from Brendan Theaters. Drop in or order Online at Cinnaholic.com for delivery or pickup.