PORTAGE PARK — A vegan bakery putting down roots in Portage Park will open this week after facing delays.
Mindful Baking, a Ravenswood-based vegan bakery, will open Friday. Owner Diane Mejia has been renovating the storefront at 5035 W. Montrose Ave. since November after its last occupant, Little Lulu’s Italian Ice, closed in September.
Last year, Mejia launched a Kickstarter campaign and asked the community to help her buy a refrigerator, freezer and an espresso machine. The campaign did not make its goal and, because of Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing fundraising model, the money that had been given went back to the donors.
Mejia has now launched a GoFundMe in hopes she can still raise money for the equipment and construction.
Mejia wants to raise $10,000. So far, she has received about $2,500 in donations.
“We financed [the equipment], but [we] hope with the funds we can pay them off,” Mejia said.
Mejia is also looking into applying for small business grants from the city.
The fridge and the espresso machine took longer than expected to arrive, causing Mejia to delay the cafe opening. She said she is still waiting on the point of sale system, but it should arrive this week.
With minimal vegan and cafe options in Portage Park, Mejia is excited to bring “fresh and funky” vibes to the neighborhood.
It will be the bakery’s first retail location after seven years in business, and it will also serve as a coffee shop. Mejia started the bakery from her home and long has operated out of a wholesale kitchen in Ravenswood.
Customers can expect sandwiches, soups, parfaits and other grab-and-go meals on the menu when the cafe opens Friday — and sweet treats from Little Lulu’s.
When Little Lulu’s owner Autumn Bastyr closed her shop — partly due to the pandemic and because she moved to Florida to expand the brand — she had hoped an entrepreneur would take over the space and keep her products in the neighborhood.
The partnership between Mindful Baking and her business, which also sells vegan and gluten-free products, is a win-win.
“This relieves some stress on me, [and] we can feed off of each other’s customer base,” Bastyr previously told Block Club.
Bastyr, who still owns the storefront, said she’s excited to share the space with a fellow entrepreneur who is equally invested in growing a business in the area.
Mejia also set up a mini shopping section that will feature vegan food items made by women entrepreneurs who have partnered with Mindful Baking at past pop-up markets.
The cafe will have a soft opening 6-9 p.m. Friday and will open for regular business 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. Normal business hours will be 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
“The space is great, and I feel like it will be a good addition to the neighborhood,” Mejia previously told Block Club. “I don’t know what to expect, but it will be worth it.”
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