Two Evanston businesses named finalists for Martha Stewart American Made Awards


Devon Levy/The Daily Northwestern

People walk by Hewn, located at 810 Dempster St. The bakery is one of two Evanston businesses that are finalists for the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards, which recognizes places that produce local, homemade goods.

Tori Latham, Reporter

Two Evanston businesses were selected as finalists in the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards, a national competition that “spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade,” according to the American Made website.

Hewn, 810 Dempster St., was chosen as a wildcard finalist via social media in the Food, Sweets and Baked Goods category. Few Spirits, 918 Chicago Ave., is a finalist in the Food, Wine and Spirits category.

A panel of judges will choose nine American Made winners on Friday, but the public is encouraged to vote for their favorites as well. The finalist with the most votes through Facebook and Twitter will become the contest’s 10th winner. 

Both business owners said they are advocates of the qualities the American Made Awards are looking for in businesses.

Paul Hletko, the founder of Few Spirits, said makes all of his products by hand and in small batches. He said he appreciates that the contest is highlighting other businesses that work in similar ways.

“I’m very excited that the competition celebrates products made in America,” Hletko said. “It was really an honor to be selected. I’m one of only 14 or 15 businesses chosen in my category, so that’s really amazing.”

Julie Matthei, co-owner of Hewn, echoed Hletko’s praise for the awards. All of Hewn’s baked goods are made fresh daily and are served in limited quantities, she said.

“American Made’s spirit fits us very well,” she said. “At Hewn, everything is handmade, and that’s something they really appreciate. As a local business, we also feel very connected with the community, which is something we like to acknowledge.”

Matthei admitted she did not know much about the competition at first and ended up applying on a whim because it looked interesting. She turned in her application the night before it was due and waited to see what would happen.

“I posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, people voted and we ended up a wildcard finalist,” she said. “I was very surprised but also happy.”

Both stores embody the sustainable and locally sourced businesses that Evanston loves to have around, said Mark Muenzer, the city’s community development director.

“Few (Spirits) is a great example of the beginning of the distillery and microbrewery movement in Evanston,” Muenzer said. “Hewn is utilizing local ingredients and farmers in the area as well as being very community oriented.”

Both businesses said they have received an outpouring of support from their customers.

“The regulars will show up and be like ‘You have this many votes now!’” Matthei said. “They’ll keep us updated. I haven’t been paying as much attention as they have, and it’s nice that they are interested in our continued success.”

Hletko said Few’s success is really a direct result of its customers.

“We’re lucky to have a lot of friends and fans that think we deserve this recognition,” he said. “If we win, we’ll need to double our efforts to continue to earn their respect and trust.”

Although Matthei and Hletko said they would love to be named one of the winners, they are thankful for the recognition the competition has already provided them.

“The contest has definitely given us more exposure,” Matthei said. “It’s nice that Evanston has representation, especially with more than one local business being nominated.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @latham_tori