After nearly five years of stocking restaurants with cake slices, accepting hundreds of special orders, and popping up at several different locations around the city of Chicago, I have finally secured a retail space and signed a five year lease for my vegan bakery!
Longtime customers may recall my 2017 plans to open up a shop in Lakeview. Delays with the proposed site’s previous tenant forced me to put my dream of having a storefront on hold and move production to Pilotworks, a startup offering commercial kitchen space to food entrepreneurs. There, I was able to scale my recipes and train additional staff, but the company unfortunately folded and shut down soon afterward in October 2018, leaving me yet again kitchen-less and searching for a home.
Soon after leaving Pilotworks, I was contacted by the owner of a local business called Ruth and Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream with an offer to lease shared kitchen space on a monthly basis for the busy holiday season. This not only enabled me to fill Thanksgiving and Christmas orders while keeping up with wholesale orders, but it also provided a location where customers could pick up their custom orders directly from me.
With a kitchen secured, I ramped up production, accepting a record number of custom orders and even opening the doors to walk-ins, with limited quantities of cakes-in-a-jar available on weekends. Even with a larger space and trained staff, however, I still found myself having to cap the number of custom orders I could accept, leading to lots of disappointed customers every month. When Ruth & Phil's mentioned to me that they did not have plans to renew their lease this coming September, I seized the opportunity to take over the entire space so I can finally grow this business to it's full potential.
Having my own space will allow me to accept more special orders, take on more wholesale accounts, and to offer something sweet to all of you every day of the week. I am absolutely overjoyed that things have finally fallen into place, after literally years of moving from kitchen to kitchen and never feeling secure or grounded where I'm at. It's truly a dream come true and I'm still pinching myself because I just can't believe it's real.
Now that the lease is signed, I will need to secure retail licensing, hire and train more help, remodel & redecorate the space, and purchase baking equipment from the current renter so that I can continue on with baking production. The equipment by itself is going to run me about 40K so I'm going to pool together anything I'm able to make here with my own personal savings to make this all happen.
The lease starts September 1st, and I'm hoping to secure funding by then so I can hit the ground running with remodeling and hopefully be ready to open this fall! My bakery will be located at 2636 W Chicago Ave in West Town--the same spot you babes have been picking up your special orders and cake jars from for the past several months. Thank you all so much for making me believe I can actually do this. Any and all support, whether big or small, will mean the absolute world to me!