Fritz Pastry to Reopen With New Chef, New Look

By Patty Wetli | Monday, January 2, 2012

Two weeks without a crumb bun?! Fritz Pastry can't reopen soon enough. Credit: Patty Wetli

If you vowed in the New Year to cut back on sweets, or at least get a grip on your holiday diet of cookies and chocolates, you can count on help from an unexpected source: Fritz Pastry.

The bakery, located at 1408 W. Diversey Pkwy., closed at noon on January 2, planning to reopen in a couple of weeks with a fresh look and a new chef at the helm. Ack, I felt my blood sugar drop just typing that sentence.

Earlier this year, owners Nathaniel Meads and Elaine Heaney sold Fritz, launched in spring 2009 with partner Jared Nance, to Travis Schaffner, owner of Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park. Meads continued on as chef through the end of 2011 but now hands the reins over to James Gray, former owner of Dozen Bake Shop in Pittsburgh. Gray will spend the Fritz hiatus testing new recipes and overseeing renovations.

Meads was still turning out croissants Monday morning but could scarcely meet demand. As word spread of the temporary closing, a steady stream of Fritz loyalists turned out to stock up on sweets and by 10:30 a.m., the pastries were nearly picked clean.

After snagging one of the few remaining crumb buns, this reporter dragged Meads from the kitchen just to shake the hand that has shaped a million macarons. He shared with RVJ that he and Heaney plan to spend more time with their two young children, and hinted at a coming return to Chicago’s restaurant scene at a West Loop location to be announced.

Though admitting to being “a little sad,” Meads is confident Fritz will remain one of Chicago’s favorite sweet spots under Gray’s guidance. “He’s a talented guy,” said Meads.

So much for that New Year’s resolution.

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