The aroma of fresh bread and chocolate croissants poured out of Hewn’s wooden door as customers ordered the bakery’s freshest pastries Tuesday morning.
Customers, city officials and friends gathered at 810 Dempster St. to welcome the space’s new resident, Hewn: Hand Forged Artisan Bread, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Owners Julie Matthei, director of business operations, and Ellen King, head baker, introduced community members to the bakery with pastry samples and a taste of their special picholine olive and herb bread.
Hewn officially opened last Tuesday, June 4, and Matthei is already feeling the embrace of the neighborhood.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better response,” Matthei said. “The community has been very supportive, starting from the city of Evanston helping us get this going to the actual customers, friends, family. People have really come up and come in to visit us and try us out.”
Matthei and King said they’ve already seen returning customers after only their first week open.
“I’d just like to have a lot of people be regulars. I know that we are doing it right if people keep coming back,” King said. “I want people to kind of take ownership of the bakery as well, where they feel proud of it and feel a part of what we’re building.”
Hewn’s staff has grown from the two owners to eight employees total, including two bakers. The majority are Evanston residents.
The bakery specializes in handmade bread, pastries, salads and sandwiches. All salads and sandwiches are grain-based, with no meat.
“I think people will find that vegetables, when they’re cooked and seasoned right… they’re delicious, and you don’t really miss having a slab of turkey,” King said.
Waiting in line for a croissant, Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd Ward) said she was excited to have a healthy, authentic bakery in the neighborhood.
“It [Hewn] fits this wonderful niche of literally homegrown and homemade artisan food, and this neighborhood really likes all of those things,” Wynne said. “I’m hoping that this will set the tone for other businesses, so then we create more of a theme in terms of what’s going on here.”
Evanston community members at the opening were enthusiastic about the new business and its location west of the CTA station on Dempster Street, where there are some vacant storefronts.
“This side of the tracks has struggled, so to have something that will draw people like a magnet… Everybody is just thrilled,” said customer Cease Giddings.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony as well. She, too, said that Hewn will contribute to the area.
“Bringing another great, small business that is based on principles of good values, good health, wonderful food, is great for the Dempster Street corridor. It’s great for Evanston,” Schakowsky said.
Matthei said she and King had surpassed their first goal—opening Hewn—but had their sights set on bigger successes down the road.
“Now we’ll go toward continuing to make the best products that we can for our customers and to stretch our limits with what we can provide, trying new things,” Matthei said. “Ultimately, we want to be here for a long time.”