Fritz Pastry (Tribune file photo)
Wormhole owner Travis Schaffner has been selling Fritz Pastry‘s baked goods at his coffee shop (1462 N. Milwaukee Ave.) since it opened a little over a year ago. “I’ve never had vegan sweets or similar magical morsels that have been anywhere close to as ‘real thang’-tasting as Fritz’s,” he told RedEye. “Also, I’m enormously allergic to bovine proteins.”
So, in April, Schaffner bought the Lakeview bakery (1408 W. Diversey Pkwy.). He told us about his plans for the spot and the future of The Wormhole.
When did you decide to buy Fritz?
“Sometime over the winter, probably once the year started. It became necessary to get more of a sharpened-up sense of command over our foodstuffs, and [Fritz chef] Nate [Mead]‘s the most genius vegan pastry dude in the city. Especially with coffee prices skyrocketing since we opened, it’s super-helpful to us to be able to leverage a partnership that we control outright in the realm of edibles, which are a huge boon to any shop like ours.”
What was the sale process like?
“Easy, painless and lovely. [Former co-owner] Elaine [Heaney] and I had been working on it whenever time was available, since last autumn. I’ve known their fam for a while now, through friends, and the fact that their shop is awesome, tasty and comfy, just like their personalities are. That’s right. Tasty personalities, people.”
What about the product do you like?
Overall, they produce immensely high-quality stuff every single day, without fail, and people with weird maladies can chow down on them. Super huge, especially for Wicker Park and similar havens.
Can you tell me a bit about your future plans for the spot?
We’ve already started upgrading the coffee program (from personnel acclimation to tech and related tools of the trade) to make it more in line with our processes and facilities at Wormhole-prime. Other than that, we need more resources and, especially, time. Sandwich options have been ballooning as well, but we’re still perfecting those offerings. More to come on that very, very soon.
Are you going to change the Fritz Pastry space at all?
Yes. But I haven’t finalized this yet. Once festival season is vanquished, [maybe] we can move more quickly on this. We’ve got some pretty sweet ideas, especially considering their long, massive front windows on Diversey.
Just curious, why are the former owners still listed on the website?
Whoops. We have a time machine. Just no plutonium, I suppose. I’ll get to it! Actually the FP website is going to be rebuilt alongside [Wormhole's] and melded together — we’re working on this now, actually. Launching in August, I believe!
What’s next for the Wormhole? Any plans for a Wormhole, Part II?
Well, we’re trying to keep our eyes peeled to the utmost quality, as business is really ramping up heavily of late. We have a new organizational chart that has been recently implemented, involving Fritz as well, and a new — finally — patio, so just more variables to keep properly honed and corraled. We’re always on the lookout for new signature and seasonal drink ideas — and, yes, expansion is very possible, though perhaps other sustainability-securing projects related to coffee production and refining might be more of a priority as we head through the coming months. Anything is possible, if you can bend space and time, I bet. Hah!