Dave and Megan Miller haven't gotten much sleep lately as the staff from Baker Miller apply the final touches on the couple's second location. Hot Bar by Baker Miller is scheduled to open Saturday in Ravenswood Manor. Dave Miller said this second location, 4642 N. Francisco Ave., will focus more on comfort food, the buttery items Chicagoans love, opposed to the original Lincoln Square spot which presents more grain bowls and pickled vegetables.
"We noticed the heavier items, the buttery things, those are the things that way outsell the California-style items," Miller said.
The Millers delivered a curveball, as news spread of their decision to stop baking their acclaimed bread made from heirloom wheat. It was a stunning announcement, which was partly brought on by the resignation of their chef in charge of bread, Richard Ridinger.
Dave Miller said today that Baker Miller's bread sales had plummeted. They struggled with consistent quality, and the most recent wheat crop forced them to change recipes. "The wheat was dry, it reacted differently to water," Miller said.
On top of that, Ridinger's departure provided the Millers a sign. Despite the difficulty in putting their egos away, they finally made the choice to stop baking bread, opting to use breads from Publican Quality Bread, as first reported by Chicago.
So instead, the Millers have diverted focus from bread to stuffed waffles and other unique baked treats. "Stuffies" are made from a dry laminated dough used in Danishes and croissants. A visit to New York, a city that actually embraces street carts instead of stifling them with regulations, inspired the Millers when they saw waffles sold on the street. Neighborhood feedback at Ravenswood Manor also fueled the idea, as neighbors flooded suggestion boxes with requests for waffles.
Customers entering Hot Bar may be surprised by the production kitchen, as well as the actual hot bar (food will sit on a bar with a raised temperature) Miller said. The original Baker Miller will unveil a new menu in about a week, Miller said, and while the Lincoln Square spot will rotate items, the new cafe may feature items that change in flavor, but it will feature a menu that for the most part will stay the same. Check out the Baker Miller Facebook page for some sneak peaks of the new menu items.