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Chester County Press

Loaves of love with Brandywine Valley Bread

04/17/2024 04:29PM ● By Haleigh Abbott
Loaves of love with Brandywine Valley Bread [6 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

Brandywine Valley Bread is not a new business, but certainly one that deserves revisiting—over and over again.

Owned by husband and wife duo, Fran McLaughlin and Maria Quaranta-McLaughlin, the small shop welcomes regulars and new customers with fresh baked bread and artisan coffees.

Fran and Maria began their bread journey in 2018 when Fran started experimenting with sourdough. His friends and family suggested he start selling it, and he took the opportunity since he was unhappy in his restaurant job and looking to make extra money. After providing samples to the Downingtown Farmers Market, Brandywine Valley Bread began selling sourdough loaves each weekend. This quickly grew to the Lionville and Kennett Square farmers markets, all while selling out at every location.

Their storefront located at 3941 Lincoln Highway East in Downingtown opened on Nov. 11, 2018. Previously a bagel shop, Fran and Maria didn’t have the funds to change the sign out front that read “Bagels,” so they decided to feed the customer demand.

“The ball just bounces your way sometimes,” said Fran, and the steady stream of customers to the store confirms the success.

What makes their bread, bagels and pastries so incredible is the owners’ dedication to local. “Local food always tastes better. It’s harder to work with because it’s more finicky, but it’s always worth it,” said Fran. With a grain mill in house, Fran processes his own flour with grain from local purveyors. Small Valley Mill in Harrisburg provides the majority of the grains, including landrace grains, which are ancient, pre-hybridized varieties that are increasingly harder to find.

Maria can often be found working at the coffee bar, where her homemade syrups and specialty coffees rival that of big-name chains. From the classic drip to the exciting Lemonade Espresso (made in house and organic), it’s the perfect accompaniment to a bagel or pastry. She and Fran both work the front of the house, greeting customers and catching up with their regulars they know by name and order. If you’re lucky, you might also get some help from one of their four kids who are professional label-stickers for their boxes and drinkware.

This year, Brandywine Valley Bread leveled up their ovens to help keep up with demand. In the future, the McLaughlins hope to expand to a cafe-style shop with seating.

“We want a place where people can sit down, eat their croissant, and drink their coffee,” explained Fran. Timing is everything for the expansion, as well as the baking.

If you’d like to indulge in some delicious loaves, pastries, bagels, or even buy a sourdough starter from Brandywine Valley Bread, be sure to visit them each Wednesday through Sunday at their Downingtown location, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until the products sell out). They can also be found at the Kennett Square Farmers Market, and online on social media or at