Lovin' Oven Cakery closing downtown Libertyville operation
After 10 years, a popular sweet spot on a prominent corner in downtown Libertyville will be closing.
Lovin' Oven Cakery traditionally has taken a week hiatus around the Fourth of July holiday, but this year likely won't reopen after that. The 1890s-era building at Milwaukee Avenue and Church Street across from Cook Park is for lease and available as of Aug. 1.
Owner Ken Slove said a number of factors, including not being able to get a single-year lease extension, figured in what ultimately became a business decision.
"This was not our choice. It was kind of forced on us," he said. "It's a multitiered story, actually," he said. A video will be released early next week on the Lovin' Oven Facebook page and other platforms to explain the situation, he added.
"We don't want to close the store in Libertyville. It's a great store. The community is fantastic," he added.
High rent, a 1 percent village "places for eating" tax that has been in effect since October 2016 and pending increases in the minimum wage to $15 an hour factored in the decision, Slove said. The tax is passed through, which prompted some grumbling from customers, he added.
"We ran those numbers ... and that's just an unsustainable proposition, quite honestly," he said.
Slove said his second, five-year lease in Libertyville ends July 31 and he wanted to continue but for a shorter term.
"I needed two years and he only wanted one year. It's a business," said building owner Lee Redman.
The ground floor space had been occupied by a real estate business and an ice cream store before Lovin' Oven became the third tenant in 40 years. The second floor of what originally was the Libertyville Hotel is used for offices.
The building is located across Church Street from Cook Park, a popular community gathering and event spot. It's described as a premium space and "the most desired location in historic downtown Libertyville." About 23,000 vehicles pass on Milwaukee Avenue daily.
"I've had a lot of interest," Redman said. "Every day, I get two or three people" calling.
Lovin' Oven Cakery was founded by Slove in 1989 as an offshoot of a third-generation family business. A bakery and retail outlet now in Round Lake Beach was the first location and Libertyville the second.
An enormous flagship bakery with cafe seating for 100, two party/meeting rooms and a "bridal suite" for browsing wedding cakes and products opened in Antioch in early 2018.
Only the Libertyville store will close, according to Slove, but it might not be goodbye.
"We are looking to keep a presence somewhere in Libertyville," he said. "We're in some very, very preliminary discussions."
Locals have taken notice and a posting on a community Facebook page had drawn 65 comments as of Friday morning.
"We are very sad to see Lovin Oven Bakery leave our downtown," said Pam Hume, executive director of MainStreet Libertyville, a downtown promotional group. "They were a very popular addition to our mix of shops and restaurants and always seemed to be busy."