EDGEWATER — The concept of a Humboldt Park couple's new Clark Street cafe is simple: Hot sauce and bread.
"We're falling in love with the neighborhood," said Bancroft, who's been making his 8-year-old line of hot sauces at that location since last summer.
He said the stretch of Clark Street where they've set up shop — next door to Norse Bar and down the block from one of Chicago's oldest hardware stores, Clark-Devon Hardware — meshes perfectly with the pulled-pork nachos and Egyptian noodle dish koshary he plans to serve Thursdays through Sundays.
The neighborhood is "eclectic, like our style of food," the 36-year-old saucier said.
The cafe, a "one-stop shop" for Bancroft's sauces and Kostroski's artisan breads, features shelves of jarred pasta sauces, salsa verde, sunflower oil and much more. Behind the counter sits an espresso machine.
Bancroft started Co-op Sauce inadvertently in 2003 when he was looking for a way to raise money for Co-op Image, an arts-education nonprofit for kids he started.
Now he sells his homemade sauce to more than 50 restaurants and grocery stores in the Chicago area — and donates half of the profits to Co-op Image.
Kostroski, 40, began making pastries and bread in 2009 — sharing a kitchen with Bancroft at the now-closed Darkroom Bar in Ukrainian Village. She had moved to the city from Nashville, where she helped run a restaurant.
She sells her stuff at farmers markets and retail locations, like the Dill Pickle co-op in Logan Square. Former Dill Pickle general manager Vinnie Hernandez has a small stake in the cafe, she said.
But now the couple's businesses have a more permanent home on Clark Street in a building owned by the Barbanentes, a Chicago family of restaurateurs.
The BYOB cafe's food will mostly be supplied directly by independent farms throughout the Midwest, including Jake's Country Meats in Michigan and Three Sisters Farm in Kankakee.
Some of the food will be natural and some organic, but Bancroft was quick to point out the cafe is "not all-anything."
"We want to share what we love and what we do," he said, and "keep it available to the whole community."
The local healthy food scene is growing in Edgewater and Rogers Park. A group of neighbors, including the Heartland Cafe's majority owner, Tom Rosenfeld, and the Glenwood Sunday Market's director, Sheree Moratto, is meeting regularly to form bylaws for the planned Rogers Park Food Co-op.
But with Sauce and Bread Kitchen, Kostroski said, "we're just trying to do our little part here."
"We're a little cafe. It's just us."
The cafe will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays starting March 2.