While Anna Davidson was working for a catering firm in Geneva several years ago, the seeds were planted. One day, she wanted to have her own restaurant/catering business.
On and off for years, she had been thinking about opening her own restaurant, but either the right space wasn’t available or the timing didn’t seem right.
Then, after quitting her job over the summer and taking time to re-evaluate things, she began to consider opening a restaurant in the former Bells & Whistles location in downtown Glen Ellyn.
A restaurant consulting firm she had hired to evaluate her catering business agreed the location was prepped and ready for a new business.
“We always had the vision and were waiting for the right place and time,” she said.
Davidson expects Blackberry Market will open in mid-December, if all goes well with construction and permitting, she said. Build out at the location at 405 N. Main St. began this week.
Blackberry Market will offer a casual dining environment, with a focus on fresh, homemade food, along with a market space and a catering business, Davidson said. The concept is similar to some businesses found on the North Shore or in Chicago, such as Food Stuffs or the Southport Grocery & Café.
“The concept is more and more popular in the food world today,” she said. “You can come in and order and eat, but it is good food, healthy food. And, then you can also buy some products.”
Once Anna Davidson and her husband Bob were prepared to move forward with the business, they also decided to use a crowdsourcing website to help raise funds for the launch.
Restaurants have so many unknown costs and hidden expenses, she said. The Davidsons felt it was important from the beginning to have strong community support and to build the business’ cash flow, which is a really difficult thing for a restaurant to get going right after opening. Most restaurants make a small profit and even in a good economy a restaurant may only hope to have a 15 percent profit.
The Davidsons are using Indiegogo to raise some of the funds needed for business start up. The couple, who live in Glen Ellyn, planned to raise $15,000 but surpassed that goal and currently have received $20,855. The fundraising campaign has two weeks left before it ends. The funding amounts supporters provided on Indiegogo range from the $10 to $2,500.
“We know the community really well and have lots of contacts, so it’s just a great way to tell our friends and family ‘hey this is what we are doing, we want you to be a part of it,’” she said. “It’s great to have buy-in from the community. This is a great way for them to show ‘this is a great idea and we support it.’ … Glen Ellyn has shown they are interested and support it from the start.”
An integral part of the business will be the ability for customers to see items as they are prepared. The preparation will be very visible. For example, she already has a bakery team hired and Blackberry Market will have a bakery finishing space where people can watch preparation.
Anna Davidson will be cooking most of the food along with her co-manager, who along with Davidson will be head chefs at Blackberry Market.
The space itself already had a very nice vintage feel, with wood floors and a tin ceiling, she said. “We are bringing in a little bit of industrial finishes. I want it to have a little bit of an urban feel, maybe a little bit edgier than Glen Ellyn is used to.”
None of the food will be pre-packaged or pre-cooked, she said.
“I definitely have always loved cooking and food and loved the idea of it being my job,” Davidson said. “I am passionate about food, I am passionate about great stuff and I am passionate about helping [people] them make healthy choices.”