PORTAGE PARK — Fannie’s, a bakery and restaurant on the Northwest Side, is moving to a former Frunchroom location on Milwaukee Avenue in the neighborhood.
Fannie’s owner Stephanie Rybandt closed the bakery at 5040 W. Montrose Ave. on Aug. 30 and took to Facebook to explain why the location had shuttered.
“An opportunity has presented itself and we are pursuing it. We are not shutting down! We just cannot keep operating in our current location,” she said.
That opportunity was taking over the restaurant and kitchen that formerly housed Frunchroom at 4042 N. Milwaukee Ave. Despite great reviews, Fruchroom owner Matt Saccaro closed the restaurant in July.
Staying in Portage Park was important to Rybandt, and she said the smaller, ready-made restaurant storefront is a perfect new location. If all goes well, she hopes to reopen Fannie’s in the new storefront by October.
“If we didn’t move quickly we would miss out on it,” Rybandt said.
Plus, problems at the Montrose building made it challenging to do business, she said.
“The building at Montrose, the dining room floor is collapsing. We had a customer’s chair go through the floor,” Rybandt said.
When she started looking for a new space, options were limited.
“This one was already set up as a restaurant which is what made it ideal,” she said. “Fannie’s is going to be a bit different now that we’re in a smaller space, but what we’re planning on still having the same vibe and we’re still going to have the unique events that we always had.”
Fannie’s will still offer full table service, but because will also offer more grab-and-go options for people living in apartments and working out of a coworking space nearby. She may partner with Fischman Public House on a brunch buffet, too.
In 2012, Rybandt started selling baked goods at the Portage Park farmers market. She went on to open a bakery within a library in suburban Harwood Heights before expanding to the Montrose location in 2015.
In the next 18 months, the bakery endured some hardships, including power outages, plumbing failures and the loss of a contract with shuttered Treasure Island grocery stores. In January of this year, she launched a GoFundMe to help Fannie’s pay back rent and taxes. That campaign raised $45,862 of its $65,000 goal.
Rybandt said she used that money to pay off the back taxes. She said she is not up to date on rent at the Montrose location but has made an offer to the landlord and that’s in negotiation.
The Montrose Avenue landlord could not be reached.
She also has received help from a private investor to make the move to the Milwaukee Avenue storefront possible.
“It’s because of our customers that we’re not shutting our doors but have a real opportunity to move on to the next chapter where we can still be a part of this community. I’m so grateful because we could have easily been another small business that just closed,” she said.
Until the new bakery opens, Rybandt will be selling baked goods at places like the Jefferson Park and Independence Park farmers markets and Lizard’s Liquid Lounge, 3058 W. Irving Park Road.
“We’re really trying to get people to support us at the farmer’s market. We need to buy paint!” Rybandt said.
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