When Bleeding Heart Bakery opened its very new and very big outpost in West Town last year, it seemed, to the outside world, that BHB owners Vinny and Michelle Garcia had moved their mom-and-pop bakery business into a more successful direction. They partnered with Fifty/50 and Roots Handmade Pizza owners Greg Mohr and Scott Weiner to open the larger outlet and it appeared all was going well.
That may not actually be the case, with Time Out Chicago asking whether Michelle Garcia is defecting from BHB. Last week, a Save Our Bakery Facebook page launched, creating many questions and some confusion. With multiple bakeries now in existence and a new one about to open in Lakeview, why would the bakery need saving?
In late February, Bleeding Heart sent out its regular newsletter and made it sound like they had distanced themselves from West Town to focus attention on their three other locations (Oak Park, Elmhurst and soon-to-open Lakeview). Michelle Garcia wrote that after the West Town spot opened, she and Vinny both realized they "missed our tiny little bakery ... and being a team." She added that their three independently owned bakeries would be the only places you could get cakes crafted by the Garcias. At the end of the newsletter, the West Town location wasn't listed with the others.
It sounded odd so Eater reached out to Michelle who, at the time wrote, "Can't legally say anything about the West Town situation right now. But once I can I'll send you the pr statement. Thanks!" We then contacted Dave Andrews, the publicist for Mohr and Weiner, who sounded quite surprised. He wrote that the West Town location was still co-owned by all parties, and that the Garcias have always owned the other locations and are concentrating on their businesses.
Now, this Save Our Bakery page emerges and is causing even more confusion. TOC's David Tamarkin talked to Mohr who was "taken aback by the statement" and told him they're "basically equal partners."
Michelle Garcia emailed Eater writing that she couldn't legally talk at length about the situation, but that, "The partnership of West Town killed the stores that Vinny and I independently own, they are hanging by a thread because of an agreement that basically left us with nothing and no way to make a profit," she wrote. "We chose to break free and bake for our selves, but there've been unforeseen costs involved, which have slowed down the opening and put good people out of work. Basically, we just want our bakery back."
It sounds like the business partners need to sit down and iron some things out because when Eater got in touch with Mohr today, he said, "I'm somewhat speechless." Mohr explained that the Garcias originally came to him and Weiner to help them be profitable. Once they opened West Town, Mohr said all baking was brought in house there and the other locations were considered satellites. "Once we took over the ordering and production, costs went way down, which in turn [allowed us to] sell the other stores product at a cheaper price than they ever have."
Mohr confirmed the Garcias own just as much of the bakery as he and Wiener, and that the couple actually pull management salaries; Mohr said he and Weiner won't "make a dime off that bakery until it's paid off, which typically is four to five years" in the restaurant business. He added they concentrate a lof of their attention on West Town versus their other businesses and that "our sales are incredible: The restaurant side is busy, the bakery side is busy, the wholesale side is incredible," he said. "As far as the Save our Bakery thing from them, I know they've run into issues with the city that have held them up," Mohr added. "I don't know where this is all coming from. It's terrible for our business and brand."
· Is Michelle Garcia Defecting From Bleeding Heart Bakery? [TOC]
· SOB: Save Our Bakery [Facebook]