Evanston gluten-free bakery saved by ‘Secret Millionaire’

Ina Yang/Daily Senior Staffer

Rose’s Bakery, which specializes in gluten-free food, called off Christmas Eve closing plans after funding from Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis. Lemonis will now own the business in the hopes of attracting new customers and making the business profitable.

Sophia Bollag, Reporter

Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery, an Evanston business that specializes in gluten-free food, was saved from bankruptcy over the holidays by a $200,000 check from a donor.

The business announced that its last day of business would be Christmas Eve on Dec. 6, in a statement on its Facebook page, citing the lackluster real estate market and the high cost of gluten-free ingredients.

“I know I have made mistakes, but I tried my best every day to make this business work,” owner Rosemarie O’Carroll wrote in the statement.

An online fundraiser to keep Rose’s open netted only a fraction of the $104,000 needed to continue running. A couple days before closing, however, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis stepped forward with financial assistance, allowing the business to stay open and all the employees to keep their jobs.

“My confidence in the product along with the need for it is what drove me to make this investment,” Lemonis said in a comment below the bakery’s “good news” Facebook announcement.

One Northwestern student with a gluten intolerance called the news “fantastic.”

Though Rose’s, 2901 Central St., is a nearly hour-long walk from campus, Medill freshman Matt Silverman said he has visited the business multiple times.

“I would really hate to see Rose’s go out of business,” he said.

Lemonis, who has appeared on the ABC television show “Secret Millionaire,” a reality show in which wealthy Americans donate their money to people living in impoverished areas, is now the owner of the bakery and has made O’Carroll a partner.

According to an Evanston Roundtable report, Lemonis wants to work on expanding the customer base and making the bakery profitable.

“This is a business investment as well,” he told WGN 9 News. “I’m glad we’re staying open, I’m glad the employees are all keeping their jobs, but we’re going to have to figure out how to make money.”

Rose’s, which also sells its goods to other retailers and restaurants, is one of few local bakeries that serve gluten-free food exclusively. Gluten, a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat, has received increased attention in recent years due to growing awareness of gluten intolerance.

“You can find gluten-free cookies and pastries at supermarkets nowadays, but an exclusively gluten-free bakery is a novelty,” Silverman said.

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