Evanston bakery’s fortunes are on the rise
An investor has stepped forward at the eleventh hour, pledging enough money to help Rose Carroll and her popular Rose's Wheat-Free Bakery & Cafe, at 2901 Centra St., to continue operating. | Jon Durr~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:09AM
An investor has stepped forward allowing an Evanston bakery and cafe to continue serving its popular specially-made gluten-free products into the future.
Marcus Lemonis, a Lake Forest resident and owner of Camping World, a $3 billion business, called Rose O’Carroll, owner of Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery & Cafe on late Thursday, pledging to pick up the cafe’s debts.
Lemonis, who is on a gluten-free diet by choice, had visited the café about a year and a half ago. The cafe draws customers from all over the Chicago area who are dealing with some form of food sensitivities. He said he called the owner after reading about the business’s plight on Facebook.
“Let’s cut out the nonsense,” he said getting O’Carroll on the phone. “We don’t need for you to go out of business.”
Lemonis is pledging to invest $200,000 right away, with a promise of $150,000 later to help O’Carroll buy the equipment she says is needed to take the business to the next level.
He said the product is good and what is needed is the support and oversight to run Rose’s “like a real business.”
“They have good sales, just not a lot of structure, not a lot of working capital,” he said by phone today. “We needed two people to come together – somebody with a balance sheet and somebody who knows how to bake, and she didn’t have the other ingredient.”
O’Carroll had set 3 p.m. today as the restaurant’s last day. She said the slow economy and the labor intensiveness of making gluten-free products were factors in a loan institution moving to foreclose on the business’s mortgage.
Lemonis’s investment will enable the business to buy equipment needed to make labor-intensive pizza bread and croissants, she said.
Also, “he’s actually going to provide health care which is something we always wanted to do,” said O’Carroll.
She said some other investors have come forward to help her purchase the Central Street building where the café and bakery is housed.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” O’Carroll said.
She said she broke news about the business’s change in status to employees yesterday “and when they found out, especially about the health care, they all were crying.”
The business’s plight was no publicity hoax, she said.
“We were draining bank accounts,” to keep open, said O’Carroll. With the news, “my husband is buying some Christmas gifts,” she said.