RAVENSWOOD — Ravenswood residents will soon have a new sweet spot to satisfy their cravings for cookies and cupcakes — and for fans of the recently shuttered Angel Food Bakery, the location will be awfully familiar.
Eats and Sweets, a cafe and bakery concept from brothers Keith and Scott Lacey, is set to open in two to three weeks at 1636 W. Montrose Ave., former home to Angel Food, which closed at the end of March.
"I don't think there's a comparison; I think we're different," said Keith, who will oversee the cafe's kitchen while his brother will mainly handle the management side of things.
Patty Wetli talks with DNAinfo Radio about Eats and Sweets:
Among those differences: a full coffee bar serving up Metropolis blends; loose leaf teas, including flavors like banana dulce to match the shop's desserts; later hours; expanded outdoor seating; and the gradual introduction of more fanciful baked goods.
"We want to open up people's ideas and palettes," said Keith, a graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts).
Traditional American fare like cinnamon rolls will eventually share billing with European-style creations that give him the opportunity to flex his creative muscles.
"I never wanted to take a baking class when I was 17," he said of his days at CHIC. "But I fell in love with it."
His specialty is cake design, particularly working with pulled sugar and pastillage — edible decorations — skills he honed at the French Pastry School.
"It gives me a chance to be a little more artistic," said Keith, who's also studied stained glass and furniture building.
At Eats and Sweets, he plans to play around with flavors, which might take the form of coconut cream French toast, duck fat pancakes or unusual pairings of the ice creams and craft sodas the brothers intend to carry.
The cafe is actually their second foray into the restaurant business. In the the late '90s, when Keith had just graduated from CHIC, the pair, who grew up in Lincoln Park, opened Factory Lunchbox in Logan Square "before Logan Square was Logan Square," said Keith, who still lives in the neighborhood.
When the venture folded after a couple of years, Keith detoured into home remodeling, in large part because he had met his now-wife, Heidi, and wanted to keep more regular hours.
"You know how busy the food business can be — it takes over your life," he said.
Though the opening of Eats and Sweets represents his official retirement from the "handyman phase" of his career, he did take on one last renovation gig.
"I did 60 to 70 percent of the work" on Eats and Sweets, he said. "I put the floor in myself in a day. My mother jokes she should have named me Jack, for 'Jack of all trades.'"
If the desire to spend more time with his family is the reason Lacey originally hung up his whisk, it's also what lured him back to the kitchen.
Eats and Sweets is a team effort for the extended Lacey clan. Keith is passing the secrets of his buttercream recipes on to Heidi and is teaching the oldest of their three children how to pipe icing.
Scott, who lives in Irving Park with his family, is helping with the "eats" side of the menu, developing sandwich and salad items. His daughter is creating a line of cookies for the bakery, the specifics of which she's keeping a secret from her father. And it was Scott's wife who came up with the name for the joint.
Finding a moniker that would convey the intent to serve savory food and baked goods had stymied the brothers.
"She hit the nail on the head," Scott said.
Having just passed their city inspection on Tuesday, the Laceys are now in the home stretch of training staff, finalizing their menu, obtaining a sidewalk cafe permit and buttoning down a gazillion other details.
"I'm nervous and excited," Keith said. "It's different on different days."
Grand opening plans are still in flux, but take note: there will be samples.