The measure of a thriving business to its community is not just in how it satisfies the palate, but also its economic impact.
In that respect, Sweet Dreams Organic Bakery and Café, 1107 Waukegan Rd., will add to Glenview’s positive cash flow in a couple of months. The seven-year-old eatery, already renowned for organic, vegan and gluten-free entrees and baked goods, is finalizing its liquor license with both the village and state of Illinois. That means an expansion of hours further into the evening and added staff, likely after Jan. 1.
Owner Mary Sopcic and executive pastry chef Martha Sutton both project at least three workers will be added to Sweet Dreams once they begin serving wine and beer. Sutton, for one, encourages anyone interested in the food business or possessing experience to contact her for the projected openings, adding to the nine employees already on the payroll.
“I think it will help a great deal,” Sopcic said of the liquor license. “A lot of people like to have a glass of wine or beer with lunch or dinner. I think the business will be much better. I hope we’ll have a nice selection of (organic beer and wine).”
Sopcic is a long advocate of organic cooking, which she practiced for almost 15 years before she opened Sweet Dreams, where a huge orange sponge cake (you can the whole thing for $60) dominates the bakery display counter.
“I believe organic is a way of life, and I believe chemicals are not good for people or the environment,” Sopcic said.
Almost all the menu home-made
All the pastries and most of the entrees are freshly made. To address customer preferences, Sweet Dreams expanded its vegan and gluten-free menus over the years. The likes of grilled portabello mushroom, tofu and vegetable salads and sandwiches; quinoa and garden salads; a roasted red pepper hummus plate; a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and chili are the vegan items.
Sopcic and Sutton head up a crew comprised of pastry chefs Anny Rosberg and Nadia Putro, baker Saida Nikolic, line chef Matt Szul, head counter person Linna Yann and counter person Elizabeth Bolger, the latter a Glenview resident.
Sutton, a 29-year veteran baker, could be the centerpiece of the operation. She brought her childhood love of baking to the business, then refined it with some of the challenges of baking both vegan and gluten-free products.
“My dad was an excellent cook and chef,” Sutton said, adding her mother was also skilled in the kitchen. “I grew up baking. One of my mom’s favorite stories was when I was 7, I yelled into the other room, ‘What is cream of tartar?’ She said, whatever it is, it’s too advanced for you.”
Charles Sutton was an Episcopal priest who did catering when he wasn’t performing pastoral duties. His daughter believes his side skill was natural, and so is hers.
Bakers are born, not made
“You can teach someone to bake, but it doesn’t make him a chef,” Martha Sutton said. “I know something’s wrong with a recipe when I’m making it. It’s just in me. When I make my pie dough, I know when it’s going to work or not."
“Creativity” and “accuracy” are the top skills of baking, Sutton said.
“Baking is very different than cooking,” she added. “I don’t have much room for error.”
After taking a break from baking professionally, Sutton linked up with Sopcic soon after Sweet Dreams opened. She offered her help in baking wedding cakes.
Now the talents of Sopcic, Sutton and the other pastry chefs totally stock the counters. Best sellers are the eclairs and strudel. Varieties of chocolate-chip cookies abound. The bakers do not take a day off. Even on Sunday, the goods are freshly-baked.
Sweet Dreams also has a cultural bent. In an adjoining dining room, Sopcic shows the works of the Glenview Art League, with the display changed quarterly. The fall-winter paintings exhibit belongs to Nancy Paradies.
It is a colorful backdrop for dining as Sweet Dreams makes its continuing expansion a reality.