Meet A Merchant: Vanille Patisserie
Try Out an Authentic and Delicious Experience this Holiday Season!
Vanille Patisserie | 2108 N. Clark
If you have yet to visit Vanille Patisserie in Lincoln Park, your taste buds are sorely missing out! It’s one of the only patisserie’s in the city and it certainly tastes as if some of the magnificient creations are straight from France itself! Known best for it’s many different varieties of macarons, Vanille offers an assortment of pastries from croissants to stud muffins (cupcakes) to tiramisu to tartes and SO MUCH MORE! The moment you walk into the shop at 2108 N. Clark you will be lifted off the ground with the sweet aroma of baked goods, tea, and coffee...at least that was my experience when I stopped by to sit down with owner Sophie Evanoff.
Vanille Patisserie was founded in 2002 and was originally located on Clybourn between Webster and Ashland. The space was tiny. It had two tables with eight seats and only a 600 sq. ft. kitchen; in fact, their freezer was out back because they had no space in the kitchen! Finally in 2013, after much searching, Sophie found the perfect spot on Clark Street in Lincoln Park! At first she thought she was only going to take two of the three available storefronts, but after touring the space she decided all three would be the best option to have the right sized kitchen, seating area, and cake tasting room. At the very end of 2013, just after Christmas but before the New Year, Vanille Patisserie had it’s soft opening on Clark Street, and the rest, as they say, was history!
Sophie Evanoff wasn’t always in charge at Vanille. She started out as an employee at the original Vanille on Clybourn and took the helm in 2011. Sophie loves business, she lives, breathes, and sleeps it and she’s always known that she wanted to own a baking business. When the opportunity to acquire Vanille come about she jumped at the opportunity to merge her love of baking and business. She felt that she had formed a good foundation having worked at Vanille for a number of years and she knew the brand, so it made sense for her to take over. Many members of the staff stayed on board with Sophie, but today the only member still remaining from the original Vanille team is their executive pastry chef Stacy Waldrop. You shouldn’t fret though, the staff at Vanille Patisserie is exquisite, kind, and extremely cheery! You’ll always be greeted with a big smile and a “hello” the moment you step in the door.
Vanille is known for many things: macarons, giving back to the community, afternoon tea, holiday delights, and so much more, but the one constant in it all is the quality of everything that they offer. They use quality ingredients to make delicious treats; they provide a quality experience to each of their patrons; and they are thoughtful in all new ventures they take on. The time and the care they put into all that they do really makes a different. The Vanille team makes everything in house for all of their stores (they also have shops in the French Market and in Lakeview), including its own chocolate, hot chocolate mix, and Bûche de Noël (a traditional ‘yule log’ cake Christmas dessert), all of which are perfect for the holiday season!
Even though Vanille has only been on Clark Street for about three years now, it has become such an integral part of the neighborhood. Families often gather here with their children on weekends or mothers stop by after school so their kids can pick out a treat. While I was chatting with Sophie, the table next to us held six or seven women for book club. Sophie loves seeing families and neighbors, and especially loves to “see the smiles on the children’s faces” when they come in. She also has some very fond memories from working with customers over the years, and not just from parents with their kids. Two engagements have happened at the Clark Street storefront, one of which involved a special cake that Vanille baked and placed in the window that read “Will you marry me?” for the bride-to-be to see as she and her soon-to-be fiance walked by. Sophie commented about how she feels at home being part of the Clark Street community, where customers walk in and they feel like an old friend. Every moment is special with her customers, whether they are just stopping in for a macaron or staying for afternoon tea, they all become part of the Vanille family.
The team at Vanille is not only great to their customers, but they love the neighborhood and frequent the businesses around them. Whether it’s RJ Grunts, Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co., Riccardo Enoteca, or Mello’s they try to hit all the great places nearby. Occasionally, they even venture a few blocks north to grab a drink at Lincoln Park Stadium or dinner at Basil Leaf Cafe. Sophie and her team understand how much the neighborhood has given them and they are grateful to return the favor to their friends and fellow business owners.
We strongly encourage you to make a special trip to Vanille for a truly authentic experience this holiday season. Enjoy delicious treats, including some special Christmas pastries that are perfect to bring along to your holiday gatherings, warm up with a cup of their tea, and experience a jolly staff! You’ll definitely find us there indulging in a treat or two and we hope to see you there soon!
Written and posted by Bryan Biello, December 2016