Vaca’s Creamery, Chicago’s first vegan ice cream shop, is set to open a second location following the successful launch of its Noble Square walk-in location in 2021. The new parlor will open early next year in Lincoln Square on Lincoln Avenue between Lawrence and Leland. where European bakeries and historic apothecaries coexist easily with fun general stores and independent bookstores. It only makes sense that with this fiercely local and friendly strip, a vegan ice cream shop would be a fitting addition instead.
The dream of Vaca’s Creamery began in Austin, Texas, where owners Mariana Marinho and Dylan Sutcliff worked together at Sweet Ritual, a now closed vegan ice cream shop that attracted a large following. After starting a gluten-free and vegan waffle cone business in Texas, the couple moved to Chicago at the start of the pandemic to open a shop offering desserts. “Chicago is the prototypical city for me,” says Sutcliff, who grew up about 50 miles west of the town of Yorkville. Traveling across the United States and abroad, he feels most at home in the Midwest.
When Vaca’s opened in May 2021 on a quiet residential street, few understood the vegan ice cream market. This gave Vaca something to prove, and word of mouth produced long queues during the summer months. Vaca’s was the unexpected hit Chicago didn’t see coming.
Marinho and Sutcliff saved money and searched for the best opportunity before settling on the idea of an ice cream shop that offered oat milk ice cream. “Vaca” means cow in Portuguese, a nod to the mother tongue of Brazilian-born Marinho: the owners’ vision was an ice cream shop where dairy cows are neither harmed nor exploited with the products sold.
Marinho, the chef, says their new shop will offer soft vanilla, chocolate, swirl and seasonal varieties like the original location, but also additional unique flavors with a dedicated machine just to bring pints back to the house. home. Most items are also gluten-free. Cups, cones, sundaes, shakes with mixes (like cookie dough made by Avondale’s You’re a Cookie and peanut butter caramel sauce) and a wide selection of drinks will also be on the new menu. . Most importantly for those who love ice cream but don’t shiver outside in cold weather, the new location will have indoor seating for 12-16 people. Moving from a 400 square foot kitchen to a 1,000 square foot space, formerly a Paciugo Gelato location, will create much more space for Vaca’s Creamery to bake and offer vegan and gluten-free pastries.
“We hope to create a cozy environment that feels like a nice destination for a dessert or a cold-weather coffee date,” says Marinho, acknowledging that ice cream parlors face business challenges during Chicago’s colder months. “Honestly, we are still figuring this out. It seems to be important to keep customers interested in new products, flavors and hot things. »
Emphasis on quality ingredients, sourcing from controlled slavery-free companies (slavery has plagued the chocolate industry), prioritizing compostable packaging, products from local businesses, and paying employees A living wage rather than relying on tipping means Vaca’s ice cream costs more than its competition. Vaca’s tries to keep its baked goods and cafe menu competitively priced.
But Marinho and Sutcliff are committed to maintaining ethical standards and say customers appreciate the store’s values. None of this means much, however, if the product is not quality, and however committed the owners are to their ethics, they also want it to be smooth service without compromising on flavor or texture . A second location shows that the gamble of opening a vegan soft-serve store in a city known for its long, cold winters can pay off.
“It seems vegans and allergy sufferers are quickly spreading the word to their omni friends because more and more we hear people saying they’re not vegan or whatever, they just love our ice cream” , says Sutcliff.
Vaca Creamery2324 W. Giddings Street, scheduled to open in February