Lemonis to open Rose’s in Highland Park
Rose's Bakery general manager Chris Mealey helps customers in Evanston last month. | Jon Durr~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 5, 2013 12:46PM
HIGHLAND PARK — One month after rescuing Rose’s Bakery, a popular but financially struggling wheat-free eatery in Evanston, celebrity investor Marcus Lemonis has announced plans to open a second Rose’s in downtown Highland Park by late winter or early spring.
Lemonis of Lake Forest declined to disclose the specific location for the new Rose’s Bakery, Cafe and Juice Bar, saying he is still in negotiations with the landlord and the city of Highland Park. He did say it was a “prominent location” and that “people will be pleased.”
“The city already contacted me about a month ago, and is extremely excited and willing to be very helpful in fast-tracking the process,” he said.
Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery & Cafe at 2901 Central Street in Evanston was set to close on Christmas Eve, after a five-year run, because a lender was moving to foreclose on the business’ mortgage. Owner Rose O’Carroll cited the slow economy and the labor intensiveness of making gluten-free products as reasons for her business troubles.
Lemonis, who is on a gluten-free diet by choice, read about O’Carroll’s plight on Facebook. He called the owner and offered to pick up the cafe’s debts and buy equipment to take the business to the next level.
“Let’s cut out the nonsense,” he reportedly told O’Carroll. “We don’t need you to go out of business.”
Lemonis is the owner of Camping World, part of Good Sam Enterprises, a $3 billion business based in Lincolnshire and “the world’s largest recreational vehicle” company.
He has appeared in several episodes of “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC and “Secret Millionaire” on ABC and will star in his own reality television series on CNBC this year. The show, “The Big Fix,” will focus on small-business turnarounds from the standpoint of a financial investor.
“I literally write checks and buy the controlling interest in the business,” said Lemonis, who is currently in production for the show set to be broadcast this summer. “Donald Trump and Gordon Ramsey scream at people and tell them how dumb they are. It is easy to tell people what to do. The difference in (The Big Fix) is that I literally put my own money into the business.”
Lemonis said his recent moves to take a controlling interest in Rose’s Bakery and In The Raw, a raw foods and juicing business in Highland Park, are unrelated to the series. A dispute with the proprietors of In the Raw, at 483 Central Ave., is in litigation.
He said that a Highland Park location for Rose’s Bakery, Cafe & Juice Bar makes sense for many reasons.
“It is not just a bakery, but a full-service cafe with breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said. “There are not a lot of places in Highland Park to get salads and sandwiches other than Michael’s. I know there is a niche there.”
The Highland Park location will offer blended beverages and organic smoothies, coffee and tea. The menu will feature a variety of vegetarian, vegan and raw options alongside many of Rose’s favorites, such as baked breads, cookies, pizza, soups and sandwiches. The business also will be used for commercial preparation, allowing the bakery to “reach further west and further north” with the line of products distributed to other restaurants. Lemonis said nearly 100 restaurants in the Chicago area already serve Rose’s products.
According to a press release, the cafe also will implement a detoxification program offering a variety of options to meet individual needs.