A Saucy Community in Edgewater

March 06 2013 - 10:46 PM

Co-op Sauce and Crumb Bread both originated as entities designed to give back to the community in their own ways, so it’s fitting that their new collaborative cafe in Edgewater, Sauce and Bread Kitchen, would be the culmination of their community-focused philosophies.

Co-op Sauce emerged in 2003, when Mike Bancroft began making sauce as a way to fund Co-op Image, a youth arts and entrepreneurship organization. What started as a side project caught fire and became a smoking hot business (the references to heat as success are too easy). All his small batch sauces are made from Midwestern ingredients, utilizing techniques such as fermentation and barrel-aging to create sauces that enhance dishes rather than ignite them. From the beginning, Co-op Sauce has donated half of its profits to Co-op Image, and will continue to do so with the sales of sauces at Sauce and Bread. Bancroft also plans on employing former Image participants at the cafe.

When Crumb rose from the ovens in 2009, Anne Kostroski set out to nourish Chicago with the wholesome, delicious bread it deserved. Sold exclusively at local fixtures Green Grocer Chicago, Dill Pickle Co-op, and farmers’ markets, her breads and pastries garnered a carb cult. All her products are made with organic flours, cheeses, and seasonal produce, sourced from the Midwest. Kostroski is looking to add more vendors to her repertoire, and Edgewater residents can rest easy knowing they have a steady supply of high-quality bread in their ‘hood.

The philosophy shared by these longtime kitchen partners, who worked together out of Ukrainian Village’s Darkroom bar, is to bolster a sense of community through their products. Sauce and Bread is an opportunity to unite as a business and establish their own roots. What endeared the duo to Edgewater was how they felt it was an old school Chicago neighborhood, with comfortable living and less segregation. Kostroski says the diversity inspires them both, and they are thrilled to open their doors to all the locals who have encouraged them since their arrival.

Located at Clark and Devon, the space houses all of their production, acts as a retail hub for their products, and offers a concise menu showcasing both of their wares. Open Thursday through Sunday, the menu includes breakfast sandwiches on housemade English muffins, pizza, nachos, and weekend brunch. All of Bancroft’s sauces are on hand, and his Bloody Mary mix is ready for patrons taking advantage of the BYOB status. Kostroski’s pastries include oatmeal cream sandwich cookies, toaster pastries (think gourmet Pop Tarts), cakes, and the richest, most buttery granola bars you’ll ever taste. The goal was to be comfortable and affordable, so as to become a fixture in Edgewater. Surrounded by family homes, Bancroft and Kostroski want it to be a place where locals can visit regularly. Beyond the menu, they host monthly supper clubs and will offer CSA pick ups. Eventually, they’d like to amass enough local products to serve as an affordable market.

Sauce and Bread is sounding more and more like the Mr. Rogers of Edgewater.

Sauce and Bread Kitchen, 6338-6340 N. Clark St. (773) 216-5580. Photo courtesy of Sauce and Bread Kitchen Facebook.