Distinctly Downtown: She’s A Smart Cookie

Shana Stiel, creator, owner, and sole-employee of She’s A Smart Cookie, a gluten-free and vegan treats business, brings healthy and tasty snacks to Northeast Ohio and Akron’s The Market at Lock 3.

Stiel’s certified home bakery is located in North Canton. She provides services primarily at farmers markets and to businesses and bakery shops in Cleveland, Akron, Kent, and other surrounding Ohio areas.

Stiel delivers special orders to cafes where her products are then featured. She’s A Smart Cookie is sold at several shops in Akron such as Highland Square’s Angel Falls Coffee and The Coffee Pot Cafe downtown.photo(12)

Stiel is very active in the downtown Akron dining life through her involvement at The Market at Lock 3 and her locations in Akron stores and bakeries.

Stiel makes various baked goods, health snacks, and energy bars; providing a wide range of gluten-free and vegan options that taste good and provide essential nutrients. Her specialties are cookies, granola, almond butter, and energy balls.

These products are not only completely vegan, but they are also packed with natural ingredients- with no fillers or artificial flavors. Her treats are both healthy and delicious.

“I want to make a cookie taste like a cookie—not like it’s trying to be a cookie,” Stiel said.

Stiel began her business after personally suffering from food allergies. For the past 4 years, Stiel struggled with countless health problems. She was lethargic, constantly tired, and had severe migraines and body pains. After seeing numerous doctors, none of whom could diagnose her, Stiel sought a solution through her diet.

Similarly, Stiel’s sister suffered from allergies to wheat and dairy, which encouraged Stiel to get testing done for food allergies. After getting the results back from her tests, Stiel learned that she was allergic to wheat, dairy, and gluten. This knowledge motivated Stiel to change her diet drastically. She already maintained a vegetarian diet and exercised regularly, but this inspired her to look for more ways to improve her lifestyle.

“No food tasted good enough for me to feel so bad,” Stiel reminisced about the first few weeks upon discovering her food allergies.

Over time Stiel adapted to a gluten-free and vegan lifestyle. She felt the results of her diet change immediately; quickly recognizing the improvement in her body and health.

Still, Stiel struggled while grocery shopping for foods. She found that most products in stores were loaded with gluten and artificial fillers. She always loved baking, so she took matters into her own hands and began testing ingredients to create more options that her sister (the sister with a sweet tooth) and she could enjoy.

As Stiel saw the changes and improvement in her life and diet, she wanted to share this with others, knowing that she couldn’t be alone in this issue with her allergies. Stiel hoped that if the awareness of gluten-free snacks that tasted good reached the public, more people might make the switch to wheat and dairy-free products.

Stiel is passionate about helping others with health problems, and she encourages those who struggle with aches and lethargy to get tested for allergies to food. Yet, Stiel also seeks out people without food allergies to still take a look at their diets and find room for improvement. Stiel said that if vegan products taste as good as regular products, people’s bodies might feel and look better eating the first choice.

Stiel’s advice to anyone hesitant to change their usual eating habits is that “you can eat smart, and it can taste great.”

While grocery stores primarily offer popular manufacturers’ brands, despite their unhealthiness, Stiel’s goal is to popularize not only She’s A Smart Cookie products, but gluten-free and vegan options in general.

“I think it’s getting to that point where people want to be healthy now,” said Stiel. Taking the initiative to put her product in numerous shops and bakeries, Stiel hopes people become familiarized with her vegan treats and make the transition over to a healthier diet.

Stiel’s business is continually growing; roughly every week, she starts selling to at least one more bakery in Ohio. Her goals are to one day see She’s A Smart Cookie as a trusted and recognized brand in bakeries and grocery stores everywhere.

By: Spencer Skolnick, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Natalie’s

Natalies logoIf you are familiar with The Dessert Bar, then you know Natalie’s will be an experience you won’t forget. The location of the pleasant eatery might have changed, but the delicious recipes have expanded and they offer new menu items including breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Now located in the Shoppes at Akron Centre, Natalie’s is open and ready to connect and share their new vision with Downtown Akron. Whether you are in the mood for an appetizing chicken salad or a sweet signature Hollywood square, Natalie’s will meet your needs.

Natalie, who co owns the restaurant along with her husband, started cooking in her younger years. She attended a culinary arts trade program during high school which fueled the fire in her heart for cooking and baking. Although Natalie loved the restaurant business and working in the environment, being young and in school made that difficult. She then entered the corporate world and worked there for about 15 years. With the passion for the kitchen still residing inside of her, five years into her corporate America career, she started baking cakes. Baking cakes and catering soon became the focus of her drive. Natalie left corporate America and decided to open a business to what many would remember as The Dessert Bar.
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Natalie switched locations from the Montrose area to right here in the heart of Downtown Akron. She has expressed her love for the city and for the history and security of the Chase building. After asking Natalie what she looked forward to the most, she replied “the increased traffic flow”. Now that she is more out in the open and not as hidden as before in her previous location, she anticipates serving existing formal customers and meeting new patrons to make them customers for life. While working in a friendly family environment, she hopes that new and existing patrons notice the name and menu change. The name change from The Dessert Bar to Natalie’s was designed to give insight to the larger spectrum of food Natalie and her restaurant could offer other than just desserts. Natalie’s offers breakfast, on request only, home-style dishes, standard deli options, specialty items and grill items. All menu items are made with homemade recipes, and are accompanied by homemade sides. Catering is also available upon request. Natalie’s catering events range from corporate lunches, and weddings, to anniversaries and school reunions. Natalie enjoys being in Akron and serving her community. Along with anticipating meeting new customers, a smooth transition from the familiar Dessert Bar to the current Natalie’s, is the main goal for this restaurant owner.

To experience the warm and friendly environment that Natalie strives to offer her customers, visit her new location in Downtown Akron 50 S, Main St., Suite 122. To inquire about her catering or to make a delivery request contact Natalie’s at (234) 334-4166. From about 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Natalie’s receives a rush of patrons for lunch, so when visit, plan accordingly.

To find out more information about the menu, catering information or to see examples of Natalie’s exceptional cakes and desserts, visit her website at www.nataliesakron.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook/TheDessertBarAkron.

By: Chantel Burt
DAP intern