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Ravenswood

Mindful Baking Owner Raising Money To Open Vegan, Gluten-Free Cafe In Ravenswood

Owner Diane Mejia specializes in baking vegan and gluten-free cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pies and more.

Mindful Baking Cafe Owner Diane Mejia (left) and her Witches Brew black currant cupcakes.
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RAVENSWOOD — Mindful Baking Cafe’s owner is hosting a second fundraiser to bring her gluten-free and vegan pastries to Ravenswood, a year after a failed attempt to do the same in Portage Park.

Owner Diane Mejia started the bakery from her home about eight years ago and has largely operated out of a wholesale kitchen in Ravenswood while selling her pastries at farmers markets and cafes, including Reprise Coffee Roasters.

Now, Mejia wants to open a spot at 1942 W. Montrose Ave.

“I want to better the Ravenswood community with a gluten-free and vegan cafe that’s ideal for families to come if they have allergies and stuff,” Mejia said.

Mejia is asking Mindful Baking’s fans to help her raise $10,000 by Nov. 20 through a Kickstarter to help pay to remodel the storefront and buy equipment for the business, she said. 

This is the second Kickstarter campaign Mejia has launched to open a bakery. 

Last year, Mejia planned to move her business into a Portage Park storefront that was once home to Little Lulu’s Italian Ice. She held a Kickstarter, but she didn’t meet her goal, so the money was returned to backers.

Mejia then had a separate GoFundMe campaign, raising $4,963. Those funds were used as a down payment on an espresso machine that will be installed at the Ravenswood location, she said.

Mejia also spent months rehabbing the Portage Park space, 5035 W. Montrose Ave., paying out of her own pocket, she said. She opened in January and agreed to keep selling Little Lulu’s sweet treats — but Mejia and Little Lulu’s owner Autumn Bastyr dissolved that arrangement amid a business and lease dispute, they previously said.

After moving out of the Portage Park space, Mejia decided to instead look for a new spot in another neighborhood, she said.

“We’ve never had a successful Kickstarter campaign and this is why it’s so important for us to be able to do it,” she said. “Because it would cover so many unexpected costs that we’ve gone through on this whole journey that we’ve had.”

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Mindful Baking Cafe Owner Diane Mejia signed a lease for the 1942 W. Montrose Ave. in October.

Mejia signed a lease in October for the 1942 W. Montrose Ave. storefront. Since then, she’s been renovating the space and upgrading its infrastructure to handle equipment she plans to buy with money from the Kickstarter, she said.

Mejia’s already experienced setbacks, finding mold on the storefront’s floor and needing to upgrade the outdated water heater, she said

“At this point, I’d already invested $10,000 of my own money into the space,” she said. 

The current Kickstarter is to help cover additional costs as Mejia continued to build out the space for customers, she said.

“I want this to be a place where people can sit and read, almost like like a Starbucks,” she said. “I want to make it very community friendly.” 

Mejia got her culinary degree from Triton College and continued her education at the French Pastry School in Chicago. She launched Mindful Baking after being diagnosed with severe gluten intolerance; she specializes in baking vegan cakes, doughnuts, muffins, pies and more.

“The slogan that we go for is, ‘You do the eating, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t taste like cardboard,’” she said. 

Block Club’s Ariel Parrella-Aureli contributed.

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