WEST TOWN – A cafe and retail counter inside the new bakery of a major local bread company will open in West Town on Monday.
Publican Quality Bread has expanded its 4,200 square foot bakery to 1759 W. Grand Ave. last year to help meet demand as the company accepted more wholesale and restaurant customers.
Now the space will include a cafe open to the public selling coffees, sandwiches, pastries, salads and of course Publican bread.
The cafe and bakery are overseen by Greg Wade, managing partner of Publican Quality Bread and baker.
Publican Quality Bread is owned by One Off Hospitality, which operates Publican, along with, Big Star and other well-known restaurants in Chicago.
When Wade joined the business in 2014, he said it was primarily for One Off restaurants, with the occasional outside customer.
Over the next eight years, the bakery expanded its business widely to restaurants and grocery stores in the Chicago area. It ended up moving from the basement of Publican Quality Meats in the West Loop, then moved past a space near Lake and Halsted streets.
“We’ve grown to serve a ton of restaurants and retailers. Especially restaurants at that time. And you know, we were just like, well, we just need a bigger space, we got that interest,” Wade said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered restaurants across the city in 2020, Wade said the business closed for a month and then pivoted to sell its bread to more grocery stores and food-supported farm boxes. community containing fresh produce from local farms.
“When we reopened, we really focused on the supply chain as a whole and the retailers, because that’s really what was open at the time,” Wade said.
Bakers moved into the Grand Avenue Bakery about eight months ago, which can bake up to 200 sourdough loaves at a time, Wade said.
The new bakery also has improved equipment, making operations easier for employees.
“It’s just a very physically demanding job. You know, these are 50 pound bags of flour going in and out of the mixers. The dough is heavy and sticky, and everything is very physically demanding. So to be able to mitigate that as much as possible with the equipment we have, so we have a huge oven with an autoloader, big mixers,” Wade said.
The café portion of the bakery will offer a rotating menu of baked goods and ready meals throughout the day.
Wade said he wanted it to be a place where neighbors stop for coffee and a pastry, grab a take-out sandwich or salad, or linger and have 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 that kind of excitement to translate. And so with this kind of rotating schedule, you know, we’re constantly making and cooking things, we just want you to come and enjoy it and be a part of it,” he said.
Space inside the café is limited, but the patio can accommodate up to 30 people. Wade said he is also preparing to hold classes and other events at the bakery.
The Publican Quality Bread cafe is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends.
Listen to “It’s Alright: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: