Like something out of a holiday-season movie, Rose’s Bakery on Central Street in Evanston has found the Christmas present it needed.

The bakery at 2901 Central St. had been sheduled to close today, for owner Rose O’Carroll’s lack of $104,000 to keep the business open.

But at the last minute, bakery patron Marcus Lemonis came up with the money to save the business.

Lemonis, the chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam, will become majority owner of the bakery, with O’Carroll staying on as a partner.

Lemonis recently appeared on the ABC television series “Secret Millionaire” where he returned to his hometown of Miami and helped save three charitable organizations there.

“Having gone gluten free over a year ago and becoming a patron of Rose’s Bakery & Wheat Free Café, I know the love and devotion that customers have for Rose’s as I am one of them,” said Lemonis in a news release. “I have been following the business closely, and when I heard that Rose would have to close its doors on Christmas Eve, I knew I had to step in and save the business.”

“As the new owner and partner of Rose’s I am committed to not only keeping the business open but growing its customer base and having a successful and profitable business,” Lemonis added.

O’Carroll had begun a campaign to raise $104,000 before Christmas Eve to keep the business open. By Friday she had only raised around $13,000 and planned to shut the bakery’s doors today.

But Lemonis struck a deal with O’Carroll where he wrote an initial check for $200,000 to become the majority owner of the business with a commitment of an additional investment of $150,000 over the next 18 months.

Lemonis intends to purchase new equipment for the Bakery and Café which will allow it to make many of its popular products more quickly and efficiently.

Lemonis pledged it will not affect the quality. “Making the business more efficiently doesn’t mean anything changes with the taste and quality of the food. It just means they will now be able to produce more of a good thing.”

In addition, the Lemonis investment means all employees of Rose’s Bakery & Wheat Free Café will keep their jobs, something they did not think would happen. “Besides being committed to the concept of a
gluten-free bakery and café, I hated seeing that these good people were going to lose their jobs the day
before Christmas,” added Lemonis.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great news

    That is great news for those who have a gluten intolerance.  Any chance you would consider producing some nut free/ gluten free items for those who have nut allergies in addition to a gluten intolerance?

  2. Thank you

    A heartfelt thank you to Marcus!  What a fantastic story and a real life-saver to those of us who need Rose's. Happy holidays to your family and the staff at Rose's!

    1. Thank you!

      I am so very happy to hear this.  I order gluten free products for my mother, who lives in an area where she cannot find them, and have them shipped to her often.  Mom sits right down, after getting a delivery, and devours the teacakes and cookies.  She has said that it's wonderful to be able to have a sandwich with Rose's breads.

      I recently informed a new co-worker to the area who is gluten intolerant of Rose's Bakery.

      What a wonderful thing to do!!  Unceasing blessings to Marcus, Rose and everyone involved!!!  And, Merry Christmas!!

  3. Thank you and God Bless

    Marcus, you are a wonderful man. Helping people and businesses with your own success.

    Thank you for helping Rose. She is a wonderful person with a heart of gold. Seems like you will be perfect business partners.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. It’s a wonderful life!

    What a wonderful thing to do – and on Christmas Eve.  A modern day Christmas story – would make a great movie!  Wishing you great and continued success!

  5. My 2 cents

    My 2 cents: the times the shop is open are not the best. A bakery should open early and be open after people get off work. Having it open until 7pm only 2 days makes it basically unpredictable. Unless you are a fan of the shop, nobody memorizes a schedule. The location is also not particularly good in terms of traffic, but a better, predictable schedule would help.

    In another bakery closer to my home, you see lines in the early morning, not just for people picking a breakfast treat, but also people picking boxes of donuts or cakes, presumably to take to their offices (I have done that myself many times).

  6. Real Economic Development

    Its nice to see REAL economic development at work, not our public officials giving our tax dollars away, to their friends and for political purposes.

    A business man invest in a business, to make it work and turn a profit. A novel idea in Evanston?

    When we have council members giving business grants, ( phony loans )  and giving a couple, a entire business with our tax dollars ( Wine and Cheese Bar ).  When they give out all types of loans  to people with unstable business plans, and no chance of sucess, it is troubling.

    It appears almost 80% of the city economic develpment activity is phony business deals that no one in their right mind would support.

    It is nice to know, that the economic system can work, and its not driven by Public officials who only know how to spend and waste our money and their pet projects and don't have a clue even how to run the city.

    The real Christmas story is here, the market works, for those with solid business ideas. ( converse it does not work for those who need government support )


  7. So happy!

    I am relieved to hear the bakery will remain open, my gluten intolerant son loves Rose's cookies and breads, as they are so much better than the products you find at supermarkets. I agree that the opening hours are not the best, but aside that it is great news that this great place remains open!

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