Now we know why Bleeding Heart put its neon sign up for sale last month: The bakery is moving from its home at 1955 W. Belmont Ave. to comfier digs a few blocks away at 1351 W. Belmont Ave. the space that formerly housed Paper Boy and was a proposed spot for a controversial hookah bar.
Though just announced, the move has been in the works for more than a year, according to Michelle Garcia, BHB pastry chef and co-owner. “The lease is over and the building is quite old,” Garcia said of the Roscoe Village location. “I would prefer to not risk cooking out of it while it continues to deteriorate.”
The new Original Bleeding Heart Bakery will boast more than just a change of address. In a return to BHB’s roots, Garcia says, “We are going back to farm-to-table baking and working with our local farmers on a day-to-day basis instead of a set monthly menu written before I ever see the fruits or produce.”
Fans of BHB will be psyched to hear that Garcia’s plans also include a glassed-in kitchen where they can “watch all the magic and mistakes happen.” The space will serve as BHB’s test kitchen, offering customers a sneak peek at Garcia’s latest concoctions before they hit the pastry cases. “I believe in total transparency,” she says. “It’s not only about the process, it’s also about seeing the ingredients we use.”
Further enticements: a strong coffee focus and a new ordering process for cakes. Garcia couldn’t elaborate on the latter, but teased that it “has to do with ‘apple’ and we’re very excited.” (Place your bets. My money’s on an iPhone/iPad app.)
The new Belmont location should be up and running within the next few weeks, capping off a busy year that saw BHB open a baking headquarters and cafe in West Town this past August and an Elmhurst outpost earlier this month. Someone should tell the U.S. government to investigate Garcia as a source of renewable energy: This seemingly tireless chef, entrepreneur, wife and mother of two continues to explore avenues to expand her BHB empire. Along with husband Vinny, Garcia is working on plans to take Bleeding Heart beyond Illinois’ borders, and her partners in the West Town venture are talking about opening more cafes. Now there’s something to be thankful for.