How a Mexican-French creperie is helping local artists in the Illinois Medical District of Chicago
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Local community is the special ingredient that turns a city into a home base. We’ve always prioritized celebrating local businesses in the cities we operate, and now more than ever with the recent developments of COVID-19, we want to recognize the individuals and businesses that cultivate community in the cities they are in!
Common has recently opened up our largest Chicago home yet, Common Addams, in the Illinois Medical District, so when we heard about a local family that operated an almost 50-year-old Mexican bakery and a Mexican-French creperie right around the corner, we had to learn more!
We caught up with Sonia Sauceda from Creperia Nuevo Leon, a modern creperie on the border of the Illinois Medical District and Pilsen neighborhoods in Chicago, on how they use their cuisine to create a culture of inclusivity for local artists and while operating a thriving family business.
Hi Sonia! A Mexican-French creperie? This sounds too good to be true. Tell us more!
We opened Creperia Nuevo Leon about four years ago right next door to my father’s Mexican bakery, Panadería Nuevo Leon, to extend our family’s legacy in a creative new way. In Mexico City, it’s common to incorporate French influences into the local cuisine, and we wanted to bring this unique twist to the Chicago community.
Our marketing has been entirely word-of-mouth, and people love the experience and atmosphere of our restaurant. Whether our customers are craving a savory meal or a sweet treat, we love putting a special twist on the colors, presentation, and spices in the food to add to the experience.
How has your business adapted to the Covid-19 restrictions?
It hasn’t been easy, but we’re so happy that our customers are understanding and patient! We started by scaling back the menu to a smaller offering, and we’ve been able to offer delivery and take-out services while keeping safety a top priority. This has also given the family and staff time to rethink how the restaurant will function in a post-pandemic world.
By running a family business, I’m proud to say that I know my neighbors. Especially now, the local community has rallied together to check on each other’s well being. Our business is more proactive now than ever at getting leftover food from our bakery to the local church to with people who don’t have a meal. If our neighbors reach out for help, we try to help them anyway we can! Recently, the bakery gave out cookies and bread, masks from a local clothing store, and the restaurant gave out food in a goodie bag to those that needed it in the community.
You were born and raised in Chicago! What’s your favorite part about being involved in the local community?
Definitely the people and artists I get to interact with! Our business works with artists to host live music sessions on weekends. We’ve also collaborated with the Pilsen Outpost, located across the street from our shop, to offer space for local art and community to flourish. In the past, we’ve invited artists to host painting classes in our space and then we would design a crepe around that specific theme. Frida-themed crepes? No problem. Flower inspired designs? We got it covered. It’s important to keep the culture that we currently have from the 70’s alive. People love the small-business environment of the Illinois Medical District and Pilsen, and we want to help it continue to thrive.
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Want to learn more about the Illinois Medical District? Learn more about the up and coming Illinois Medical District neighborhood and explore our newest Chicago home, Common Addams.