New Bakery In Oak Lawn Offers A Little Something Extra And More
Oak Lawn couple opens Little Something Extra Bakery to provide intellectually challenged son and his friends employment.
OAK LAWN, IL — Eight hours after their son Billy was born 18 years ago, Maria and Bill Veal were told their baby had Down Syndrome, a condition brought on by a genetic disorder than can cause a wide range of developmental delays and physical disabilities. Feeling as if their world had collapsed, the Oak Lawn couple soon bounced back realizing that Billy was a blessing no different than any other child. With Billy’s older sister, Alex, and youngest son, Daniel, Maria and Bill balanced the activities of their children along with busy corporate careers. They also worried about what kind of life Billy would have when he reached adulthood.
Born in Mexico, Maria loved spending time in her grandma’s grocery store, and especially loved the freshly baked bolillo and concha rolls. Maria moved to the United States at the age of six, and her love of cooking and baking was fostered in the Bridgeport area. Graduating from DePaul University and entering the banking world with a focus on food companies, Maria had always harbored a dream to open her own bakery. Realizing that Oak Lawn was underserved in two key markets — freshly made pastries served in a casual setting and great coffee unlike big chains — Bill and Maria knew they had the makings of a unique business.
Oak Lawn Mom Turns Love of Baking Into Local Coffee Shop, Job Opportunity for Students With Special Needs
It is a paradox that there are businesses in need of good workers, and good workers in need of jobs and, yet, that is a reality that has been slowly changing.
For 25 years, Maria Veal commuted to downtown Chicago to work at her day job in banking. At home, however, she pursued her love of baking, a craft she learned from her grandmother.
As her middle child, Billy, inched closer to adulthood, Veal found herself wondering if there was a way to flip her lifestyle and turn her hobby into a business that could simultaneously benefit her son and the community.
“I looked around our neighborhood and realized there weren’t any (privately owned) coffee shops,” said the Oak Lawn resident. “My daughter goes to DePaul and they’re everywhere (around the campus).”
She thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to create an environment (in the Southland) where people could just walk down the street, stop in, have a cup of coffee and hang out.”
At the same time, she could employ her 18-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, and other students from Richards High School who were now enrolled in the District 218 Adult Transition Program.