Portage Park vegan bakery opens this week after delays, but still needs financial help


PORTAGE PARK – A vegan bakery in Portage Park will open this week after experiencing delays.

Mindful Baking, a vegan bakery based in Ravenswood, will open on Friday. Owner Diane Mejia renovates 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 fridge, freezer and espresso machine. The campaign fell short of its goal, and due to Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing fundraising model, the money that was donated returned to the donors.

Mejia has now started a GoFundMe in hopes that she can still raise funds for equipment and construction.

Mejia wants to raise $ 10,000. So far, she has received approximately $ 2,500 in donations.

“We funded [the equipment], corn [we] hope that with the funds we can repay them, ”said Mejia.

Mejia is also considering applying for grants from small businesses in the city.

The refrigerator and espresso machine took longer than expected to arrive, forcing Mejia to delay opening the cafe. She said she is still waiting for the point of sale system, but it should arrive this week.

Credit: Provided
Diane Mejia, owner of Mindful Baking, renovated the storefront at 5035 W. Montrose Ave. as she prepares to open her first retail store and her first cafe.

With minimal vegan options and cafes in Portage Park, Mejia is delighted to bring some “fresh and funky” vibes to the neighborhood.

This will be the bakery’s first point of sale after seven years in business, and it will also serve as a café. Mejia started the bakery from her home and has long operated a wholesale kitchen in Ravenswood.

Patrons can look forward to sandwiches, soups, parfaits and other takeout menu items when the cafe opens on Fridays – and sweet treats from Little Lulu’s.

When Little Lulu owner Autumn Bastyr closed her store – partly because of 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 businesses. products in the neighborhood.

The partnership between Mindful Baking and his company, which also sells vegan and gluten-free products, is a win-win.

“It relieves me of stress, [and] we can feed off each other, ”Bastyr told The Block Club.

Bastyr, who still owns the storefront, said she was excited to share the space with a fellow entrepreneur who is also invested in growing a business in the area.

Mejia has also set up a mini shopping section that will feature vegan food products made by women entrepreneurs who have partnered with Mindful Baking in past pop-up markets.

The café will open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and will open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Normal business hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

“The space is great and I feel like it will be a good addition to the neighborhood,” Mejia told The Block Club. “I don’t know what to expect, but it will be worth it.”

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