Chicago is home to an increasingly competitive sweets scene, as confectioners and pastry chefs expand their local footprints and take on increasingly visible leadership roles in cafes and restaurants. A new contender will leap into the fray when Macaron Bar, a fast-growing Midwestern chain specializing in those delicate French sandwich cookies, debuts in Chicago with a store on Andersonville’s bustling main drag.
The shop, which its co-owners hope will be the first of several Macaron Bars in Chicago, is aiming for a late August or early September debut at 5152 N. Clark Street in a space formerly occupied by suburban mini-chain Frio Gelato. At 650 square feet, the space is intimate but will include a handful of seats where patrons can try out its 14 “core flavors” that are available year-round, including lemon lavender, salted caramel, and chocolate strawberry, says co-owner Michael Wagner. The shop will also offer amaretti cookies, almond meringues, and rotating seasonal macarons like summery Key lime pie or spiced pumpkin for fall.
Macaron Bar has an exacting style. Instead of buttercream or jam, their macarons are filled with ganache — Wagner prefers over alternatives — and are a bit larger. “[Ours] are between one-and-three-quarter inches and two inches,” he says. “They’re a little bit more ‘American sized,’ which folks really enjoy.”
Founded in 2014 in Cincinnati, Macaron Bar is a Midwestern operation with outposts in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Wagner says the team initially set out to launch in Chicago with both a retail shop and production kitchen with classes. After six months of searching for a location, however, they opted to put off production plans and set up shop in Andersonville instead. Macarons will be driven in daily from Indianapolis until a Chicago kitchen is operational, which the co-owners hope to launch by early 2024 in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, or West Loop.
Though Wagner and his colleagues aren’t Chicago natives, they do like to be good neighbors. “This storefront [in Andersonville] isn’t large enough for production, it may be large enough for pairing events” with beer, Champagne, and even cheese, he says. “We like to partner with local companies on flavors and collaborations.”
Macaron Bar Andersonville, 5152 N. Clark Street, Scheduled to open in late August or early September.