After a two-year run, Vanille Patisserie has closed its storefront in Hyde Park, 5229 S. Harper Court, but the owner is looking for ways to maintain a presence in Hyde Park or the South Side.
"We met many wonderful people and loved every minute on the South Side," owner Sophie Evanoff wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. "We were honored to be part of Harper Court and thank our loyal customers, the University of Chicago, SECC (the South East Chicago Commission) and our other partners for the support and enthusiasm."
In an interview, Evanoff said the Hyde Park location, formerly at 5229 S. Harper Court, had been under-performing. It stopped being open on Mondays earlier this year.
Evanoff said there is talk of doing pop-up shops on the South Side, mentioning Vanille's cheesecake as the best-selling item at Harper Court, and collaborating with other businesses on the South Side. Vanille Hyde Park had planned to release a catering menu before the outbreak.
"We knew with the COVID-19 that there was no way," said Evanoff, who owns two other locations in Lincoln Park, 2108 N. Clark St., and the downtown French Market, 131 N. Clinton St., which has been closed for the duration of the outbreak.
"My intention is to … look at the company as a whole and what makes sense moving forward to make sure that we're still around in the next 5, 10, 20, 30 years," she said. "It was just one of those hard, necessary decisions.
Deliveries and pickup orders are available at the Lincoln Park store, and Evanoff said online orders and neighborhood support have been good. "We're still standing strong, and I'm extremely optimistic, and we're all in this together, and we're all going to get through it," she said.
"Everyone keeps saying, 'Oh, it's so uncertain; there're such uncertain times.' I was just telling a manager, 'I hate that word!' Yeah, it's tough, it's stressful, but as business-owners and leaders, we're used to making sacrifice. We're used to making tough decisions, and this is not different from anything else," Evanoff said. "You just have to stay focused on the day, on the moment, and just ride the storm."
The food industry is a passion industry, she observed: "Most of the people in restaurants and food are not doing it for money, so that's why a lot of restaurants and food are getting hit, because a lot of us don't have large-enough stakes for something like this.
"But we'll persevere. That's what Chicago does, right?"