For many years, Mercy Sister Rosemary Connelly, former longtime head of Misericordia Home, wanted a drive-thru bakery where her residents could work and interact with the community. That dream became a reality when the new Misericordia Hearts and Flour Bakery and Café opened for business on April 26 in a new three-story building at 6130 N. Ravenswood Ave. “It was one of Rosemary’s dreams for years to have a drive-thru. So we were delighted when we got news that this strip mall down the street was up for sale because we wanted the bakery close to campus for transportation for the residents,” said Father Jack Clair, president and executive director of Misericordia Home. “It’s been about five years in the making.” The venture offers employment to residents at Misericordia, who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. While Misericordia’s Hearts and Flour Bakery still produces cookies, brownies and other treats on the main campus, 6300 N. Ridge Ave., this new venture has a different menu featuring items like doughnuts, giant cookies, scones, bagels, sandwiches, smoothies and a full complement of coffee and lattes. Residents, staff and volunteers also make their own cream cheese flavors, Clair noted. “It’s food with a difference. You’re getting coffee that you can get anywhere but you’re doing it for charity,” Clair said. The dining room seats 30 people and glass windows allow customers to see into the kitchen and bakery where the residents work. The first floor houses the drive-thru bakery and cafe. The second floor will become an art studio for the residents and the third floor will house a coffee packaging program. “The whole building is about creating jobs for the residents,” said Clair. “We’re really excited about that.” About 10 residents work in the bakery and cafe doing everything from ringing up orders, fulfilling orders, baking, keeping the dining room clean and tables bused and dishes washed. “A lot of them already have experience working with customers,” said bakery manager Beth Woytek. They work at the Greenhouse Inn Restaurant on Misericordia’s main campus or in other jobs in the community. “They love interacting with the customers and chatting them up and telling them the whole Misericordia story and their Misericordia story,” she said. Providing employment for residents has always been an important part of Misericordia’s mission. “Like everybody else, they want jobs. They want to have money to do things. But they want their day to be worthwhile, especially the younger ones,” Clair said. “They’re so proud of their paychecks. They like to go to the movies. They like to go out to dinner.” Even though the bakery has only been open a short time, it has already made an impact on the residents. For example, on the third day, one resident named Michael told Woytek that he wanted to take on more shifts because he was enjoying it so much. And things are picking up. “We seem to be getting into a flow and knowing when our peaks and valleys are, who our customers are going to be. We’ve already had regulars come in,” Woytek said. The bakery is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.