Say goodbye to frozen cookies from the grocery store! Levain Bakery—the New York City-based chain famous for its giant, gooey chocolate chip walnut cookies—is officially coming to Chicago, as first reported by Eater Chicago.
The beloved sweet shop will set up shop in the former home of Maude's Liquor Bar (840 W Randolph St) in the West Loop's Restaurant Row, an area that Levain co-founder Pam Weekes says felt like a great fit for their Chicago location—the brand's first outside of the East Coast.
"We spent a couple of years making trips to Chicago, trying to get to know neighborhoods and spaces, and it felt like a place where we could come and join a community and really be part of the neighborhood," she says.
The famous Levain cookies have been available for awhile in Chicago in a frozen, ready-to-bake format at retail spots like Foxtrot markets and Whole Foods. But Weekes says the bakery's version is different—the bakery cookies are bigger than the retail version, and when the cookies are scratch-baked in-house several times a day for maximum warm gooeyness, it's hard to resist that sweet siren call.
Plus, while the cookies may be the headliner, there will be plenty more to sample at Levain. Among Weekes and co-founder Connie McDonald's favorite items are a banana chocolate-chip bread, a whole wheat raisin walnut loaf, a chocolate-chip brioche, a blueberry muffin and the light, flaky oatmeal-raisin scone. In addition to pastries, Levain plans to partner with a local coffee roaster for something to complement all those delicious baked goods. Levain's baked goods are made by hand daily, and the bakery plans to partner with a local charity to donate any food that is not sold each day.
"I think that we try to make all of our locations unique to their neighborhood, and we're working on what that means now that we've secured a location in a neighborhood we're excited about," Weekes says.
One Levain trademark that will definitely be at the Chicago location? The open kitchen. "When you come into the bakery, you can see everyone working," Weekes says. "It gives our bakers a chance to interact with customers and customers to interact with the bakers. There's something gratifying about making something and then being able to watch people enjoy it."
Levain's West Loop location is aiming to open this summer, although they acknowledge that construction, permitting and supply chain issues may lead to some unknowns as far as the exact timeline goes. But hey, if you can't wait that long for your gooey cookie fix, there's always the frozen version.