WEST TOWN — A cafe and retail counter inside the new bakery of a prominent local bread company is opening Monday in West Town.
Publican Quality Bread expanded to its 4,200-square-foot bakery at 1759 W. Grand Ave. last year to help meet demand as the company took on more wholesale and restaurant clients.
Now, the space will feature a public-facing cafe selling coffees, sandwiches, pastries, salads and of course, Publican’s bread.
The cafe and bakery is overseen by Publican Quality Bread manager partner and baker Greg Wade.
Publican Quality Bread is owned by One Off Hospitality, which operates Publican, avec, Big Star, and other well-known restaurants across Chicago.
When Wade joined the company in 2014, he said it mostly just baked for One Off restaurants, with the occasional outside client.
Over the next eight years, the bakery widely expanded its business to restaurants and grocery stores across the Chicago area. It ended up moving from the basement of Publican Quality Meats in the West Loop, and then outgrowing a space near Lake and Halsted streets.
“We grew into serving a ton of restaurants and retailers. Mostly restaurants at that time. And you know, we were just like, well, we just need a bigger space, we got this interest,” Wade said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed restaurants across city in 2020, Wade said the company closed for a month, then pivoted to sell its bread to more grocery stores and community supported agriculture boxes featuring fresh produce from local farms.
“When we reopened, we really focused on the supply chain as a whole and really focused on retailers because that’s really who was open at the time,” Wade said.
Bakers moved into the Grand Avenue bakery about eight months ago, which can bake up to 200 loaves of sourdough at once, Wade said.
The new bakery also features upgraded equipment, easing operations for the employees.
“It’s just a very physically demanding job. You know, it’s 50-pound bags of flour in and out of mixers. Dough is heavy and sticky, and everything about it is just really physically demanding. So being able to alleviate as much of that as we could with the equipment that we got, so we have a huge oven with an automatic loader, big mixers,” Wade said.
The cafe portion of the bakery will offer a revolving menu of baked goods and lunch items baked throughout the day.
Wade said he wants it to be a place where neighbors stop by for coffee and a pastry, grab a sandwich or salad to go, or linger and eat lunch on the cafe’s patio.
“We’re really excited about the products and we’re really excited about the neighborhood. And we really want to just have that kind of excitement translate. And so having this kind of rotating schedule of you know, we’re just constantly making and baking things, we just want you to come enjoy it and be a part of it,” he said.
Space inside the cafe is limited, but the patio seats up to 30 people. Wade said he’s also gearing up to hold classes and other events in the bakery.
Publican Quality Bread’s cafe is open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends.
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