Old Town bakery surprised with $10K check from 'GMA's' 'Up in Your Business' series

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Chicago bakery surprised with $10K check from 'GMA'
Chef Cheryl Nelson of Old Town's Sweet Vegan Bakes on North Avenue was surprised Thursday with a $10K check.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sweet Vegan Bakes was born during the COVID pandemic.

And Chef Cheryl Nelson has made some beautiful creations.

She got a surprise Thursday morning that will take her business to the next level.

Since Nelson was surprised on "Good Morning America" Thursday morning with a $10,000 check, her phones have been ringing off the hook. Orders for her sweet and savory treats are pouring in from all over the country.

"My knees buckled; I kind of wavered, and I was about to go down. She basically had to hold me up because I was gonna go down. That's how surprised I was," Nelson said.

"GMA" has been doing a series called "Up in Your Business," surprising three small businesses that have their busy seasons during the summer. The check is meant to give them a boost.

"To have a $10,000 check, that check is going to help us to grow in so many ways: supplies, staffing, advertising. That's major," Nelson said.

Sweet Vegan Bakes is located on North Avenue near Sedgwick Street in the Old Town neighborhood.

RELATED: Chicago baker wins 'Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge' on Amazon Prime

Nelson, who was previously a business professor, opened her doors during the pandemic with money from her savings account, stepping out on faith.

"I did it because so many people were dying; there was so much civil unrest. And I felt like life is not promised to us. I'm gonna just do what I feel, and do what makes me happy," she said.

Now, almost two years later, her business has taken off, and is expanding. She's opening a new 5,000-square-foot location in Richton Park.

Nelson said she was a teenage mom who was raised on the West Side and never believed this was possible.

Following her health priorities and her passion to make people happy has led to her own happiness.

"When the kids who can't have dairy or they can't have eggs, they can't eat nuts and they say, 'mommy, I can pick anything? Yes! You can pick anything in the case!' That's so exciting for me," Nelson said.

Nelson said, if you are not vegan, but you are a lover of good food, stop in and she'll win you over.

She said, one bite, and you'll see.

Sweet Vegan Bakes
409 W. North Ave.