The long-awaited Bleeding Heart Bakery is now open for business at 116 S. York St. One look at the product and decor of the new shop and you'll know this is not your average bakery.
Bold artwork by Berwyn artist Mark Zee is splashed all over the walls, the pastries—works of art themselves—beckon from their display cases, and the music is rooted in the punk rock genre. Mainstream, it's not.
Patch has received numerous inquiries about when this award-winning company would open its Elmhurst store. Many of them came from people who had visited the Oak Park and Chicago stores.
"They were finding that a lot of the customers in the Oak Park store were coming from Elmhurst," said general manager Samantha Gilmore, about the reasons for choosing Elmhurst.
Gilmore said owners Michelle and Vinny Garcia started the company because, with three children, they were dedicated to creating something delicious and healthy that kids (and adults) love to eat. Opened in 2005, Bleeding Heart was the first certified organic retail bakery in the United States, according to the company Web site.
Gilmore said there are a lot of reasons people choose Bleeding Heart.
"We work around a lot of dietary needs, whether people are allergic to things or it's a life choice," she said.
There are vegan products, as well as nut-free, sugar-free, soy-free and gluten-free offerings.
"If it's a severe allergy, we can sanitize the whole kitchen completely (before baking)," she said. "There's a small fee, because that's going to be the only thing produced in the kitchen at that time. It stops production."
The staff will also whip up special orders.
All of the goodies are baked at the Chicago location and delivered fresh every morning—in a hybrid vehicle. The ingredients are all from local, Midwest vendors and farmers, most of which are in Illinois and Milwaukee: Organic Valley, Giusto's Flour, Seedling Farms, Growing Power, West Loop Salumi and more.
"That's our philosophy. We want to help out the smaller vendors," Gilmore said. "We want to help out everyone."
Products come in environmentally friendly packaging and, at the end of the day, the Bleeding Heart crew composts, recycles and uses eco-friendly cleaning products.
So, what sells the most?
"Almost everything involving cream cheese frosting," Gilmore said.
Some of the more unusual treats include chocolate covered bacon, chocolate chip bacon cookies, and Elvis brownies and cupcakes, with banana, peanut butter frosting—and bacon.
Michelle Garcia doesn't think in terms of traditional baking. She's developed such unique creations as Oaxacan-spiced cakeballs and absinthe-laced cakes.
Vinny Garcia started out "shaping fondant into little skulls and zombies," and moved on to sculpting his signature, elaborate cakes, which can be ordered online.
The pair have won numerous awards in pastry competitions across the country.
"But we still consider ourselves a mom and pop place," Gilmore said, adding the Belmont and Oak Park locations have a total of only 20 employees.
The bakery opened quietly this week; a grand opening is still several weeks down the road. But residents aren't waiting for the big event. With little fanfare, people have been coming in every five minutes, Gilmore said.
The shop opens at 6 a.m. For more information, call (630) 279-2220.
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