EDGEWATER — A popular neighborhood bakery is expanding, taking over the space left vacant by the closing of another favorite.
Edgewater’s pHlour Bakery & Cafe will open pHlour Diner in the former Nookies spot at 1100 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., pHlour owner Melissa Wongkamalasai said. The restaurant is shooting for an early May opening.
Last weekend, pHlour celebrated its fourth anniversary of opening at 1138 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. After growing its local customer base and building up its wholesale bakery business, family-owned pHlour decided it was time to expand, Wongkamalasai said.
When neighboring business Nookies announced the permanent closure of its Edgewater spot, the family jumped at the chance to grow their business in their own backyard, Wongkamalasai said.
“We had talked about expanding and opening a restaurant,” she said. “When the Nookies’ place became available, we took a peek and decided to go for it.”
Nookies closed its Edgewater and two other locations at the start of the pandemic, but recently said the Edgewater spot would remain shuttered while the Old Town and Lincoln Park locations reopen.
A real estate development firm has since bought the Nookies building at Bryn Mawr and Winthrop avenues, Wongkamalasai said. The new owner will likely redevelop the property early next year, so pHlour has signed a lease through January and will be month-to-month beyond that, she said.
The Nookies building is already outfitted for a restaurant, so the plan is to open quickly and establish the business as much as possible before a potential move next year, Wongkamalasai said.
“We’re going in as-is,” she said. “We don’t know exactly how long we’ll be in the space.”
The Wongkamalasai family — including Melissa’s dad and brother — opened pHlour using a 200-year-old method for making bread. The meticulously crafted baked goods and years on the farmers market circuit helped the cafe business really take off in 2020, even with coronavirus restrictions in place, Wongkamalasai said.
With her dad’s previous experience in the restaurant business, the family decided to expand into diner service.
The restaurant will have a menu similar to Nookies’, a favorite brunch spot that had a classic large diner menu. Bread from the pHlour bakery will be available, and the family is considering adding a large cinnamon bun to the diner menu. Otherwise, the bakery’s pastries will remain available at the cafe, just on the other side of the Red Line station on Bryn Mawr.
The large patio space that Nookies operated will also be revived, Wongkamalasai said. Outdoor seating space was essential for the diner business, given that pHlour has noticed most of its customers still prefer to not dine indoors, she said.
“The indoor dining here is not what it was,” she said.
Despite opening in a pandemic, Wongkamalasai said neighbors are excited a local favorite will take over the Nookies space.
“I’m definitely excited,” she said. “The neighborhood is so excited, too. We’ve already gotten so much positive feedback.”
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