LAKEVIEW — Doughnuts, cookies, croissants and macaroons beckon the buyer from behind the counter at Fritz Pastry.
Bread, though, requires a little more of a commitment, in the form of a monthly subscription.
For $25 a month, you get a different bread each week from the shop at 1408 W. Diversey Parkway. It could be sourdough boule one week, challah another, vegan whole wheat yet another.
It might not be a loaf at all. This week, subscribers got handmade tortillas.
Until January, the bakery didn't offer loaves of bread, much to the disappointment of some customers.
"We would have guests come in saying, 'I need a loaf of bread, I don't care what kind'," said front of house manager Tony Luce. "We didn't want to keep sending people to Red Hen — nothing against them, they're wonderful people."
So, over the holidays, the Fritz staff settled on a bread subscription program (after nixing a doughnut club idea).
It helps that baker Jaime Podgorny "excels at bread. She's amazing," Luce said.
Luce said he doesn't know of other bakeries in the city that offer bread subscriptions. At one time, Flourish Bakery in Edgewater did weekly bread deliveries for customers, but the bakery closed in 2011.
Twelve people so far have signed up for the bread club, Luce said.
Customers pick up their loaves on Tuesdays at the bakery or at Wormhole Coffee, 1462 N. Milwaukee Ave. The two businesses and HalfWit Coffee Roasters share the same owners, and Podgorny's breads are used for sandwiches at Fritz and Wormhole.
Those who don't want to commit to a subscription can usually find one or two varieties of bread daily at Fritz.
Podgorny emails subscribers the night before to tell them what kind of bread they will be getting. Customers might get a little bonus here and there: She paired the tortillas with a recipe for achiote pork and the whole wheat bread with a sample of house-made jam.
Several of the breads Podgorny bakes are vegan. About 70 percent of the other treats at Fritz, including all the doughnuts, are vegan as well — something the bakery doesn't go out of its way to advertise.
"I feel like a lot of consumers are put off by that," Luce said. "They may think it tastes weird."
But non-vegans may very well have unwittingly enjoyed some of the vegan offerings.
To sign up for a bread subscription, email firstname.lastname@example.org.