After more than a decade of serving sugar fiends in Logan Square, gourmet chocolatier and sweets shop Katherine Anne Confections is on the cusp of a major expansion that will bring its popular treats, a full espresso bar, and a savory cafe menu to a larger space this spring to Irving Park.
Owner Katherine Duncan, a Wisconsin native who founded the business in 2006, spent four years hunting for a new outpost that she could own outright. Though the pandemic contributed to the long search, funds also played a significant role. “A big contributor is that this building was financed literally by the [confections] business and myself,” she says. “I don’t have any investors. It was like, ‘How little can I pay myself to save up to buy a building?’”
Duncan’s persistence will pay off when she unveils the new 1,900-square-foot location — more than double versus the 940-square-foot original — in a space that will include a 12-seat cafe, an espresso bar, and a production facility where she and her team can make their signature drinking chocolates, truffles, caramels, and marshmallows. After years of working elbow-to-elbow in a compact space, she’s excited to bring her staff into the sunshine thanks to several skylights.
In addition to introducing coffee and espresso from Factotum Coffee, a two-year-old Puerto Rican-owned roastery in Avondale, the Irving Park confectionary will also launch a pastry menu. Patrons can anticipate both sweet and savory options such as shortbread cookies with white chocolate and brown butter sage, bacon-cheddar scones with black pepper, and cherry-glazed rosemary cookies. Duncan considers herself an amateur baker but is drawing on the knowledge and experience of her team to create the pastry menu. “Being in the chocolate world, we end up with a lot of pastry chefs coming our way,” she says. Staff members with such specialized skills are valuable and Duncan wants to keep them in her orbit. “It’s like ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ — you can never leave.”
To top it all off, Duncan will also showcase her savory skills with a cafe menu with open-faced sandwiches including a vegan submission with pistachio-herb spread, roasted cauliflower, and pickled red onion. There will also be familiar combinations like ham and aged cheddar with onion marmalade, all on slices of Publican Quality Bread.
Duncan says also wants to be transparent about the challenges along the way. “Nobody wants to hear a tale of woe every time they ask how things are going, but it’s really hard,” she says. “We grow slowly, so a lot of people would have been frustrated. But after seven years, I could start paying myself a salary and I thought, ‘This is good. What can we do next?’”
Katherine Anne Confections Irving Park, 3653 W. Irving Park Road, Scheduled to open in late April or early May.