Most people, if they’re lucky, find one thing in life they are truly passionate about, but fortunately for Kate Merrill she has had the opportunity to pursue two callings, one as a caregiver and the other a baker. In Kate’s first career she was a trauma nurse at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and after twenty-two years in the field she transitioned full-time last year to running her bakery, The Edge of Sweetness located in, you guessed it—Edgewater.
During her time as a nurse, she was surprised to discover that there are many people who have never had the opportunity to develop close personal relationships with others. She shared that at times patients were even startled by the physical touch of another. These experiences reinforced Kate’s desire to bake as an alternative way to connect with the community. People are a product of their experiences she says, and she believes that if everyone could be a little kinder and adopt a sense of understanding then people would be able to form deeper connections and a greater sense of community. She built this notion into the fabric of the business, and it is clear that The Edge of Sweetness makes a real effort to support the inclusion of the community.
The space itself is very welcoming, and when you pair that together with the friendliness of the staff you are left with a place that has the power to make people feel at home. In fact, the welcoming atmosphere is what many of the regulars say they love so much about the Edge of Sweetness! It is a personal experience, and Kate loves being able to greet people as they come in the door.
When she began her journey selling delicious baked goods, she started by renting space in a shared kitchen. Unfortunately, shared kitchens rent by the hour making it challenging to turn a profit baking cookies. She wasn’t originally looking to open her own space, but it came out of necessity when she realized that the available shared kitchens couldn’t provide the leverage she needed to grow.
For Kate, choosing the Edgewater neighborhood to put down roots was always somewhat of a no-brainer. Raised in Rogers Park, and a longtime resident of the Edgewater neighborhood, it only seemed right to cook up business in the area. In fact, her children had dreamt of being able to walk to the bakery from their house, so it only made sense to set up shop close to home. Although she did admit to looking around the Andersonville neighborhood for a moment or two, in the end, the choice had been clear from the beginning.
From her experience in a shared kitchen, it was important for Kate to build an accommodating space, and she certainly delivered. The Edge of Sweetness’s kitchen is large enough to host more than one business. In fact, they support six! Here they rent space by the month and each business has their own private space to keep supplies. The best part is they all work to support one another, furthering Kate’s belief that small businesses should stick together by helping to promote one another.
For the foreseeable future, she is are very happy managi
ng her shop and doesn’t plan to move or create a second storefront. Right now, they are focused on continuing to grow alliances and partnerships within the community. One of the most socially conscious partnerships they have is with Care For Real, a local community support organization. By partnering together, the bakery ensures that none of their fresh baked goods go to waste.
Although she never pictured herself in retail, she has loved being able to promote connections within the community. Kate says that one of her favorite things about running a bakery has been the rewarding and heartwarming opportunities to be a part of other’s special events. However, as a baker one of the most fulfilling moments is sharing your baked goods with others. She says that baking can be a little selfish because you are always on the edge of your seat waiting for people to exclaim how much they love what you whipped up. As a baker, you crave that reaction and fortunately for us, baking is an art that’s hard not to share. Kate says that cinnamon rolls are one of her favorite items to make; going through the motions can be somewhat therapeutic. As for her favorite dessert to eat, she will always have a special place in her heart for signature oatmeal raisin cookies, which are truly fantastic!
If you are ever looking to lessen the baking burden of your next event be sure to give them a call! While the majority of the business they do is through wholesale and corporate accounts, The Edge of Sweetness does a little bit of everything. As a full-service bakery, they experiment at the wish of the customer and have received all types of requests. Some personal favorites are oddly shaped cakes, and when asked Kate shared that they are working on a Fireball and fighting arena cake, but requests are constantly changing. Even better, the entire facility can be rented out to host community events from popups and bridal showers to time in the kitchen.
For collaborations, catering or events visit their website, and be sure to stop by next time you’re in the neighborhood!
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Address: 6034 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660
Telephone: (773) 564-9683