When WGN Radio’s John Williams recently interviewed co-owner Chamille Weddington, he confessed that Schweet’s signature cake was ‘one the best dang foods he’s ever had’. That impulse buy from the online store led to an invite to his weekly radio program.
This family business is owner-operated by West Side natives Brian and Chamille Weddington. Currently the company is run out of a commercial kitchen in West Loop. This April, Schweet Foods is set to open their long awaited first storefront location in Austin Village at 5051 W. Chicago Ave.
The couple is excited to embrace the challenges ahead. Although some may consider it to be tough starting a business in Austin, The Weddingtons understand that this is a vibrant community of people that appreciate good food, like a specialty line of local, handcrafted, undeniably homemade, undisputably fresh cheesecake.
Fresh. Handmade. Never Frozen.
With a year under their belt gaining the trust of consumers through catering private events, fairs and festivals, the time is now for their first brick and mortar location.
Their most popular item is The Viola; it’s a cheesecake topped with strawberries or blueberries named after Chamille’s grandmother. It was the re-engineering of family recipes that led to the launch of the business.
The Weddingtons first and foremost are educators and community activists.
Proceeds from sales goes to the Schweet Foods Scholarship. Food That Does Good is their tagline and education is of primary importance. This fund offers assistance to anyone who attends one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Awardees are eligible to have their course fees and books paid for through the program.
Recently we spoke with Chamille about the journey up to this point and how an Austin Village event helped put her on the map.
Why did you decide to bring your business to the Austin neighborhood?
I live on the west side, never left. We wanted to remain here even as our business grows. We know and care about this community, more importantly we understand the beauty of it.
What have been some of your favorite Chicago events up to this point?
As much as we wanted to participate in Chicago Black Restaurant Week this year, we decided to put the brakes on festival circuit participation and focus on our Grand Opening in Austin.
I’d have to say the Randolph Street Market in West Loop. The VIP Tent at Bud Billiken Day Parade was the best! But what put us on the map was The Boombox Austin popup shop at Mayfield & Chicago Ave.
It was our six-week summer promotion. Boombox is an incubator storefront you can leverage for the duration that you need it. When you are a small business with no time and limited resources, its important to work with partners that have very little red tape. Boombox was that partner for us.
Are there any local restaurants that you draw inspiration from?
I can’t say there is one particular model. We draw inspiration from the small, neighborhood café. A tightknit limited menu, an opportunity to know our customer and build a relationship with neighbors.
No particular favorite spots, we do enjoy Italian and Asian cuisines and of course MacArthur’s in Austin.
This has been a whirlwind 18 months for you and the team. I’m excited that the Austin neighborhood played a role in this expansion from an online model to include a physical storefront location.
When I reflect with my husband on how we got to this point. We knew we had to join forces with local associations and the experience could not have been better. Malcolm Crawford at Austin African American Business Network Association (AAABNA) has been a wealth of information and connections. Our friends over there led us to Boombox where we started gaining traction.
This interaction also let us to meeting Westside Health Authority and AV72 Chicago. These are exciting times; we wouldn’t be here without hard work.
-Chamille and Brian teach at Columbia College and Harold Washington College respectively. Majors & Programs include Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing and Business Development.
-If you order your cheesecake before 2pm on any day Schweet will deliver it to any location in Chicago (and a few neighboring towns) next day at no cost.
-The Avenue is a plain Cheesecake drizzled with caramel is named after Chicago Avenue.
-Schweet Foods was the Leaders Network Chicago October 2017 Business of The Month.
Schweet’s Austin location is set to open on April 1st at 5051
-You can participate in Schweet’s upcoming community photo shoot and have your beautiful face appear on posters, window flyers, websites and more. Compensation includes your choice of a dozen cupcakes or one cheesecake. Sign up here http://bit.ly/2Fqs21H