Empanadas are poised to join the ranks of fast-casual DIY chow. Savory Crust (7180 Dempster St., Morton Grove) will offer a build-your-own option in the mold of Chipotle: choose a meat, a cheese, and some veggies and you’ll have a customized snack in minutes. If that’s too much pressure for you, there will be plenty predetermined choices, too—from “regular” fillings such as guava, cheese, and chicken pot pie ($4) to premium ingredients like Philly cheesesteak, Asian-style pork belly, and Argentinian beef ($5).
All the recipes—and a healthy dose of business acumen—come courtesy of sisters Geri and Jen Guidote, who started hashing out plans for Savory Crust after Geri was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2015. “During chemo treatments, my sister and I would talk about food,” says Geri. “We’re foodies—we almost couldn’t help it.” Those casual chats quickly developed into serious schemes. Geri is, after all, something of a food entrepreneur. In 2004, she launched Butter Bella Cookies, supplying preservative-free sweets to Whole Foods in six states. After selling Butter Bella to her sister-in-law in 2010, Geri started her own paleo granola company—Be Good Baking, which she still owns and runs—and was in the process of scaling up distribution when she got her cancer diagnosis.
Savory Crust’s grand opening is scheduled for January 14 and Geri, apparently wanting something more to do, already has her eye on the next leap forward. “Right now we’re only about 1,500 square feet, but we’re looking to expand next door,” she says. “ But I’m always sharpening my saw—what we’d really like to do is get Savory Crust into an airport.”