Known for its hefty 6-ounce cookies — best served warm so the chocolate melts — the company’s newest location should open next week at 408 N. Clark Street, according to a rep. Like its older sibling on Randolph, the nearly 1,400-square-foot bakery will offer pastries, sticky buns, loaf cakes, loaves of bread, and coffee from the Chicago roastery Backlot. The official opening day is Friday, September 15.
The cookies have also been popular with marathon runners as a reward after they complete a race. The Chicago Marathon just happens to take place on Sunday, October 8.
But customers don’t have to run a race — or stand in long lines — to enjoy Levain’s cookies. Delivery is a popular option. The cookies come in six flavors: chocolate chip walnut, dark chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate peanut butter chip, two chip chocolate chip, and the newest submission, caramel coconut chocolate chip.
The bakery’s launch in River North will bring Levain’s total number of stores to 13, joining eight shops in its home state of New York and others in California, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts. A baker’s dozen is nothing to scoff at, but the company has been around since 1995. Relative to the rapid growth seen at numerous cult favorite food brands, Levain has grown slowly. Weekes and McDonald in May told Crain’s that it’s an intentional strategy designed to amp up excitement around each opening — a classic supply-versus-demand equation that the co-founders wield to great effect.
Those huge cookies, though, aren’t quite as exclusive as they may seem. Weekes and McDonald, like their peers throughout the industry, had to navigate pandemic mitigations and thus built up revenue streams through online retail with nationwide shipping and selling frozen cookies at Whole Foods. In a recent (and to some, tragic) development, Levain has stopped producing its frozen cookies due to cost issues in an “inflationary environment,” according to its website.
That turn of events might mean that Levain fans are especially hungry for an additional Chicago bakery. It remains to be seen if the River North opening draws even bigger crowds with the help of mild September temperatures.
Levain Bakery River North, 408 N. Clark Street, scheduled to open on Friday, September 15.