Our conversations with small local businesses in the Chicago Metro Area highlighted the importance of creative team players, the power of music, and strong relationships.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to the grit, innovation, and networking that has allowed local enterprises to outlast the pandemic. Restaurants and cafes are increasingly making special efforts to promote their local farms, bakers, and coffee roasters. For example, hosting producer pop-up stalls or distributing meal kits with local products. It is clear that the local movement has gained momentum during the months of Covid-19; Chicago producers have found strength in uniting to sustain their businesses and to continue serving loyal customers. We share a few extracts from the interviews that took place about some of the core ingredients required to maintain local resilience in Chicago.
Photo via Passion House Coffee
Music keeps the Passion House Coffee community alive. With ambient, mainstream, and experimental genre-inspired coffee, PH roasters have all flavor profiles covered. With love, this team has figured out how to blend the 800 unique chemical compounds in each coffee bean. Fun coffee releases translate into distinctive energy, taking the customer coffee experience to another level. Discovering new coffee from all around the world is central to Passion House. Aaron, VP of Sales shared that “a large proportion of PH customers were wholesale including hotels, which unfortunately are not close to coming back any time soon.” The local roastery has adapted during covid-19, meeting coffee lovers where they are right now— at home. Joshua Millman, Founder of Passion House Coffee has built a lifestyle brand with his team of coffee professionals, connecting the community, music, and the earth. (Head over here, to explore PH’s Spotify playlists and discover which genre/blend resonates with you most).
Photo via 3D Baking
Team spirit at 3D Baking has kept the small artisanal bakery on the move: “we’re like a family, have fun with what we do. We have supported each-other since Covid, focused on relationships, and we let our products speak for themselves” says Daniel. “We go with the grind and take the punches. It pushes you. Right now, all we can do is take one day at a time through this pandemic”. Though 3D Baking is based out of a small facility in Chicago, the business is delivering over 100 varieties of wholesome artisan bread, nationwide. 3D Baking serves customers in California, Denver, Cincinnati, New York, Florida, and the MidWest. The team is on the same page when it comes to maintaining top quality standards. Joseph expressed “no shortcuts – we’re big on that. We always have customers in mind. Choco’s ordering platform has enabled us to streamline our communication with customers, as well.” You got it, with shifts happening throughout the entire day, 3D Baking is still a 24/7 team!
Photo via B's Gourmet Nuts and Four Star Mushrooms
The growth of new local partnerships is a big reason why small family businesses are still up and running. As a vendor of small-batch cashews, B’s Gourmet Nuts is partnering with wineries and cheese purveyors to feature in charcuterie boards and grazing tables. Founders Brett and Christine Bowman remain committed to donating a portion of net proceeds from selling ‘insatiable’ and ‘decadent’ cashews, to the Cancer Wellness Center in Chicagoland. Young Indoor Farmer Joe Weber told us that Four Star Mushrooms has evolved into a small family business during these past few months to continue serving existing and new customers. As a unit, they are continually looking for innovative companies to partner with in the food space to deliver consumers and restaurants with high quality and locally grown mushrooms.
We are happy that the local movement has gained some momentum with all this hard work and efforts to keep the spirits up. If you fancy experiencing a healthier connection to the food and beverages you consume, while supporting small businesses and the environment, try going local.