“We had all our little cliques and rivalries against the kids from the other side of town growing up, but everybody knew everybody – all the families were always tight.”
Growing up in Wilkes-Barre, for young Brock Vieney, was all about navigating sports rivalries and managing the inevitable, off the field friendships they inspired. His adolescence was marked by Mayflower/Heights meetings on the diamond. In his teen years, the field mattered little — a court, a mat, a gridiron. When the kids on the hill met just about anyone from the south side of Public Square, it was on (in the friendliest of ways, of course).
After school, the G.A.R. grad with a solid decade or more cooking by his mother’s side, leapt headlong into the fiery bellies of local NEPA restaurants. He started out washing dishes (who doesn’t?). In short time, Brock rose to the ranks of cook, head cook, kitchen supervisor, kitchen manager and so on.
Then, he let some friends taste his fresh-baked bread. From that moment, the requests have been piling up. And before long, what started as a pandemic side hustle became his latest venture – Brock’s Fresh Breads LLC. He didn’t stop there, of course. Brock also co-organized NEPA’s Black-Owned Business Expo at Mohegan Pennsylvania.
For the last two years, if you’ve been to any craft/food vendor events, you’ve likely seen Brock, with his infectious smile, slingin’ that bread. He’s got it all “from almond to zucchini.”
We caught up with Brock at the old alma mater (G.A.R. – his and mine). And in between dishing out delicious mini pumpkin loaves and manning the mobile grill at D’s on Wheels, he took on the tough questions, like Why NEPA?
How long have you lived in NEPA?
All my life, man. You know that – born and raised (laughs).
(Full disclosure – Brock and I played together on the hapless though definitely not heartless Indians of Mayflower Little League.)
What do you love about your town?
The best thing is that all my friends and family are here. That’s what does it for me, you know? Everywhere I go in the area, I got people looking out for me. They’re cheering me on. People are always trying to hook me up with opportunities. That’s what’s so great about this area.
What’s your favorite NEPA restaurant?
I’m not even going to mess around and give you a long list. I’ll tell you right now. Tomorrow’s my birthday and I’m going to Texas Roadhouse (laughs). That’s it. Texas Roadhouse is my favorite restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, period. Look, I love steak. I love the service. It’s simple, man. Those two reasons alone – that’s why I love Texas Roadhouse. And they order bread off me. So, one hand washes the other, you know (laughs). That’s just it. Unless we’re talking about pizza, that’s gotta’ be Ricci’s.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NEPA?
I was going to say hustlin’ this bread, but you won’t take that, huh (laughs)? Ok. I like to do some bowling at Chacko’s. I like to shoot pool and go to the movies here and there. Of course, I like to support all of these little family-run businesses and vendors at the events I go to.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I have a lot of things in motion. I’m still working on getting a storefront up and running. I’m also looking at getting into a commercial kitchen. And I’m also looking into getting a food truck, too. I’m really loving the food truck idea, though. I’m thinking that it might be the right way to go for me right now. I’ve been doing a little work here and there with D’s Diner and their food truck, and that’s been a good way for me to learn how it all works, you know? So yeah, I think a food truck might be my next move.
Where do you see NEPA heading in the future?
From being inside the business world here, I definitely do see a lot of new businesses opening up. And there’s quite a few pretty cool new attractions popping up now too. We got the Electric City Aquarium up in Scranton. The casino always has something new going on. We’ve progressed quite a bit since we were kids, you know? It makes me hopeful when I look at the future of NEPA. Like I said, all these new businesses, all these new business owners that are local, they’re showing up. And now we’re even seeing people coming in from bigger cities because they see something going on here.
But I love to see local people out there getting it done. You just can’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it – whatever it is. I had some people laughing at me when I was getting started. They were like, “Nobody’s going to pay you for bread!” Of course, they were wrong. But basically, if you have the energy and the ambition to do something, you just have to be consistent and keep giving it 120% every single day.
Because this is where the opportunity is. We have so many opportunities for networking and linking up with like-minded people here. And like I said earlier, NEPA’s all about that tight-knit community, where if somebody knows you and they support you, they’re going to tell everyone they know and so on and so on. Yeah, it’s cool when it works like that.