In the vacationland of Harbor Country, where restaurant hours are as seasonal as the ingredients they use, the year-round population of long-time locals and burned-out urbanites permanently decamped from Chicago find respite in the off-season at Black Currant Bakehouse.
With a combined 20 years of experience in the culinary industry and a love of bringing happiness through food and hospitality, wife and husband team of Katie Marggraf and Jesse Ives opened Black Currant Bakehouse in Union Pier.
Katie and Jesse’s story begins at a vegan bakery in Portland, Oregon at a time when veganism was still a fringe movement. After several years of working together, and eventually marrying, they relocated to the Midwest and took over a historic bakery kitchen after it sat empty for a few years.
Since opening in 2017, Katie and Jesse have been gracing Black Currant Bakehouse’s display cases with an unparalleled selection of completely scratch-made pastries, cakes, donuts, sandwiches and other indulgences that just so happen to be 100 percent vegetarian.
“Something people tend not to know about us is that we are all vegetarian,” Katie says. “It’s so important to us to cater to the needs of all our customers, which is why we’re also very vegan-friendly and try to accommodate other sensitivities like gluten, soy, etc.”
So whether you’re in the market for a buttery croissant, cream-filled donut, or a vegan and gluten-free muffin to go with your coffee du jour, Black Currant Bakehouse delivers.
“Our most popular menu item by far is our donuts, but our cinnamon rolls and banana bread are also well loved,” Katie says. “We also have some pretty serious love for our special-order cakes and wedding cakes.”
Modernly decorated to the nines, Katie’s wedding cakes are a sight to behold and have recently been featured in publications, such as The Wedding Mag. “Our wedding business is thriving and that really brings us a ton of joy,” Katie says.
Black Currant Bakehouse also serves up a popular menu of savories, including a silky smooth, custardy quiche strewn with fresh fillings, all encased in a flaky handmade crust as well as pasties. Generally reserved for a bland ground beef filling, the daily-made pasties at Black Currant Bakehouse are filled with a host of vegetarian ingredients showcasing inventive flavor profiles. Katie and Jesse’s personal favorite is the kicky chipotle black bean pasty with sweet plantains.
“We also love branching out with our savory items for Thanksgiving,” Jesse says. “We do a housemade seitan roast stuffed with homemade cornbread, veggies, and cranberries and we offer a few different side dishes, like a savory butternut sage tart.”
Black Currant Bakehouse also branches out during the holidays with their cookie business. “We take orders for our assorted cookie tins and send them out to customers all over the country,” Katie says. “Last year we were sending boxes all over the place from Alaska to Texas to New Hampshire.”
No matter the season or whether the finished product be sweet or savory, Black Currant Bakehouse is unwavering in their dedication to utilizing as many local and in-season ingredients as possible, sourcing their eggs from Turkey Foot Farms in LaPorte and gleaning as much produce as they can from Granor Farm in Three Oaks.
“We’re so happy to have so many great makers and suppliers close by,” says Jesse. “We love working with other local vendors and entrepreneurs who hold similar visions as us about food sustainability and quality.”
As 2020 approaches and Katie and Jesse prepare for a third year in business, they plan on continuing to nurture those partnerships and thrive instead of just survive in the off-season by hosting pop-ups. “We’re going to be popping up at other businesses and have other businesses pop up here,” Katie says. They are planning ticketed dinner events as well as more casual experiences all alluding to one overarching pursuit: “We honestly pour our hearts into everything we do,” Katie says. “We work hard and we love sharing the result of that hard work with folks who appreciate what we’re doing.”