Sisters, Krissy and Katie Mack, are raising their families in Oak Park and are mere days away from making their brick-and-mortar bakery dreams come true in the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District. Broken Tart, 1103 Chicago Ave., the highly anticipated bakery and lunch café may be a first endeavor for the sisters turned business partners, but the bright and airy spot has been years in the making.
Pastry Chef Krissy Mack founded Broken Tart in 2014 after graduating from the San Francisco Baking Institute. At the time she started the business she was head baker with Hogsalt Hospitality Group — the masterminds behind Chicago’s Au Cheval, Gilt Bar and Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf among others.
“Coming out of school I was told the only way I could make any money was by making wedding cakes,” said Krissy Mack with a laugh. “We made a goal to make ten wedding cakes in that year but ended up making 20. I don’t make wedding cakes anymore, but I will make you a really special birthday cake.”
Though the wedding cake game was too high stress for the creative chef, her prowess in the field earned her quick recognition on Zagat’s 30 under 30 list in 2015. Shortly thereafter, her husband’s job transfers took the young mother to New York City and Washington D.C. where she continued to build the Broken Tart brand through private clients and a thoughtfully curated Instagram account.
“I did a couple of influencer cakes in New York that got me going,” said Krissy Mack. “It’s always been Broken Tart, but until now it was really my mom job — like a side hustle.”
Returning to Chicago allowed Krissy to dive into businesses with her media-savvy sister, Katie. Both sisters have sons who are two and six years old; Katie is a Lincoln mom, Krissy is a Hatch mom — and both expect to find a line of first graders out the door on opening day.
“We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders,” said Katie Mack. “We grew up disagreeing with each other, but we’ve learned to move through issues quickly. Now we are a motivating force for each other and looking forward to nurturing what we have here.”
The sisters “called in every favor” they could to complete the gut rehab that transformed the former coin laundromat into a space worthy of the vibrant cakes and array of sweet and savory treats Broken Tart is known for making.
Broken Tart customers should expect to collaborate on the creation of elaborate “undone” layer cakes with interest and contrast coming from unique combinations of flavor, crunch and cream. The one-of-a-kind cakes, often topped with fresh flowers and a pile of marshmallowy meringue, are connected by a sense of whimsy and offered on an in-house sweetness scale.
“People are really into funfetti cakes right now, but if you take vanilla on vanilla and add some sprinkles it is going to be really sweet — like a nine on our scale,” said Krissy Mack. “If that is too sweet, we can talk about adding some passionfruit curd or cream cheese to help bring the sweetness level down.”
Though the sisters will willingly create special occasion cakes for bakery goers, they are clear Broken Tart will be an approachable eatery where people can enjoy delicious things on an everyday basis from breakfast through lunch.
Cookies with crisp edges and gooey centers will join olive oil cake with orange glaze, “kale salad” scones and cinnamon coffee cake on a rotating and evolving daily menu. The bakery will also serve thoughtful lunch items like loaded vegan focaccia, broccoli salad with Aleppo pepper and house pickled chilis, and seasonal panzanella with peaches, tomatoes, and feta. Parisian ham on baguette, baked falafel sandwiches, and lunch boxes for kids will also be available. Abundance is a theme at the bakery where the coffee program will share equal billing with the baked goods. Coffee aficionados should expect the shop to offer coffee from Big Shoulders and Ruby Roasters.
The sisters acquired the space in February, have passed all inspections and expect to open in early September, but don’t expect fanfare when that day comes — they are embracing a soft-opening, or as they prefer to call it a “pin drop” opening.
“We love Oak Park and this supportive community of people, “said Katie “We are raising our families here. We’ve both put down roots; why wouldn’t we want to grow a business here? We are both all in.”
Keep your eye out for an open door on Chicago Avenue because sweet things are on the horizon at Broken Tart. To stay fully up to date, follow @brokentart on Instagram.