After 20 years as a critical care nurse in Chicago, Lisa Alexander was starting to get burned out.
“My husband saw how miserable I was, and he convinced me to take a break,” Alexander says. “I had always loved baking, so while I was taking time away from nursing, my friends convinced me to start looking at potential spaces for opening a business.”
Alexander found a location on Wells Street, the main drag in Chicago's trendy Old Town neighborhood, that was too perfect to pass up. She noticed an absence of sweetgoods-focused bakeries in the area. Near several popular Chicago comedy clubs and restaurants, the location offered opportunity not only for a traditional bakery, but also a dessert spot.
She enlisted a former co-worker, gastroenterologist Doug Lee, as a financial partner and spent the following year designing the space and coming up with the name, Twisted Sister.
In March, the bakery held a soft opening, to introduce themselves to the neighborhood before officially opening for business later in the month. The event was well-attended, as passers-by made their way in out of the cold to warm themselves by the wood-burning stove in the seating area.
“More than anything, we wanted the space to be comfortable and welcoming,” Alexander says. “We wanted to make the place feel like home, and the product to be home-style.”
The product mix includes cookies, lemon bars, brownies and tarts; most of the formulas are production versions derived from old family recipes.
Cupcakes are a home-style favorite. Twisted Sister's signature twist on the cupcake is icing cupcakes to order. Buttercream topping is added in front of the customers, adding to the perception of freshness and to the retail theater of the bakery.