WEST LOOP — More than three years after opening Warm Belly Bakery in the West Loop and less than a year after opening a second shop in Lincoln Park, its owners have decided to shutter both cookie cafes.
On Tuesday, baker Joe Dela Pena and co-founder Francis Wisniewski said they would be closing the shops to “pursue other passions and projects.”
“Today was a bittersweet day at Warm Belly, as we have closed the doors on both stores for the last time so that Francis and Joe can pursue other passions and projects,” they wrote in posts on Facebook and Instagram.
The pair opened the first coffee-and-cookie cafe at 1148 W. Monroe St. in February 2016. The shop offered a rotating selection of more than 30 creative gourmet cookies including hazelnut chocolate chip, Turbinado sugar cookies, a Mexican hot chocolate cookie and a PB&J cookie, according to DNAinfo.
Last October, Dela Pena and Wisniewski opened a second location at 2472 N. Clark St. in Lincoln Park, according to Eater.
Reached Wednesday, Wisniewski, a trader, said the pair had a fun run but the shops “were underperforming our expectations.” They decided it was “best to explore other options,” he said.
Wisniewski, a West Loop resident when he opened the shop, has moved to his farm in Wisconsin where he plans to focus his attention. He sold his West Loop loft for $5.1 million earlier this year.
Dela Pena, who was recently engaged to be married and is aiming for more work/life balance, said closing the shops was tough.
“You are intrinsically linked to the business so it’s tough to make these decisions,” he said.
But Dela Pena plans to stay in the hospitality industry.
“I have some ideas that I plan on exploring in the future,” he said.
Thanking their loyal customers and team, Wisniewski and Dela Pena said the experience was an “amazing ride.”
Customers mourning the abrupt closure will have a chance to snag free Warm Belly cookies one last time 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the West Loop location. Wisniewski and Dela Pena will bake up the rest of the cookie dough they have in stock.
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