Although neither Maria nor Bill grew up anywhere near Oak Lawn, it has been home for nearly 22 years.
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 U.S. at the age of 6, and her love of cooking and baking was fostered in the Bridgeport area. As an adult, Maria graduated from DePaul University, and entered the banking world, focusing for many years on Food companies, combining her work and her passion. Maria has tried and perfected countless recipes, and those are what you will see in our bakery.
Bill has no passion for cooking/baking, but has always been an enthusiastic taste-tester/spoon licker. He is Maria’s No.1 fan and has always seen the potential in Maria to accomplish her dreams.
The vision for Little Something Extra was born 7+ years ago, at the dinner table. Bill and Maria realized that Oak Lawn was underserved in two key markets. Freshly made pastries served in a casual setting, and great coffee. After hearing countless people say, “I don’t like (big chain coffee name)”, they knew they could combine those two into a unique business and serve a market that effectively didn’t exist.
And so the concept was born. Once we knew the market existed, we had to figure out how we would serve it. A drive-thru for a quick coffee and a donut on the way to work? Absolutely. A place where 3 or 4 Moms could come after dropping their kids off at school? Very definitely. The soccer team can come to celebrate a big win? You betcha. Folks who want to work from a comfortable location and need good wifi? Sure thing. A great location to have a birthday party for children? We can do that.
So what are we not? We will not have display cases full of pastries and cakes for all occasions. We are not “fast” food. We will not make every trendy coffee drink out there. We are not the low-cost option. We are the quality option. We are the welcoming staff while making your coffee, we are hoping to be your home away from home.
So, the vision ends up being simple: Great pastries a lunch menu; excellent coffee a relaxed, family friendly environment. We think you’ll want to stay a while, and we want you to stay a while.
Little Something Extra is a sly reference to our son, Billy. We were told that Billy had Down Syndrome eight hours after his birth, and to be honest it felt like our world had collapsed. With help from our families, our neighbors and friends, and the good folks at the National Association for Down Syndrome, we came to realize that Billy was a blessing no different than any other child.
We always worried what kind of life Billy would have. We really shouldn’t have bothered. Billy and his older sister Alex and younger brother Danny have filled our house with laughter and song (ask any of us to sing a song from Barney or Blue’s Clues!) and constantly repeated lines from iCarly. We are a completely normal family – our normal is just slightly different than everyone else’s.
We’ve always wanted Billy to be able to work and contribute back to the community that has given him so much. Billy will be working at the bakery, as well as other adults with special needs. We hope to employ as many of these adults as we are able, and show the world that anyone, regardless of disability can work.