Forty years was long enough to wait. New display cases with better lighting would better show off the beautifully decorated specialty cakes and cookies. The entire front room needed to be brightened up and refreshed. And crucially, only one of the two cash registers could read Apple Pay.

The new countertop and stools will be used for cake testings at Tag’s Bakery. The refrigerated cases along the back wall were the only items that remained from before the renovation. Credit: Wendi Kromash / Evanston RoundTable

Gretchen Vetter, the owner of Tag’s Bakery, 2010 Central St., also wanted a countertop area with seating so she could meet with clients about specialty cakes.

“I wanted a place to hold cake testings. There was another counter that could have worked, one that was less expensive, but I didn’t like it as much as this one. I thought to myself, ‘I’m doing this once. I’m going to get what I want, the one I know will look the best,’” she said.

And so she did. The counter Vetter chose perfectly complements the other sky blue and soft brown tones in the store. The stools are beautiful without being fussy as well as comfortable.

Before the renovation of Tag’s Bakery front-of-the-house room. Credit: Gretchen Vetter

One big change Vetter insisted was removing the dropped ceiling her parents had installed. The added vertical space expands the room and the bright white color enhances the original details. 

Tag’s Bakery new front of the house renovation. Credit: Wendi Kromash / Evanston RoundTable

Tag’s has been a mainstay on Central Street since 1937. Vetter’s parents, Don and Jan Vetter, purchased the bakery from the Gorham family in 1968.

The RoundTable got a sneak preview of the newly redesigned store space early Monday morning, the day before the first public reveal. The new bakery cases were rapidly being filled as Vetter was interviewed.

Vetter loves interior design and came up with the layout. In addition to the countertop and stools, she chose the pastry cases, the brick tile, decorative lighting and the black and white photos that will be displayed. She worked closely with Valentina Gaglio from AStudio Architects in Chicago.

The renovation began on Jan. 2 and the target date for reopening was Jan. 30 or 31. As it turned out, they were only off by one week. For anyone who has ever done a renovation project with outside contractors, that’s practically on time. 

In an email, Vetter said “Most of my back of the house crew came back on Wednesday February 1 to start cleaning. My two bakers and the rest of the production crew started making product on Friday. Store staff came back on Friday as well to start cleaning and restocking the store.”

Everyone on the Tag’s Bakery staff signed this part of the wall before it was covered with the new brick tile. Longtime employees who were unavailable had their names added. Credit: Gretchen Vetter

A few of the light fixtures and a drawer pull are still on order. Some framed black and white photographs for the back wall aren’t quite ready yet. But those are minor details.

Vetter’s 90-year-old mother saw all the changes on Saturday and loved the new look. As Gretchen described it, both women’s eyes filled up with tears. Vetter’s late father and late brother, Greg, also worked at the bakery at one time. 

Vetter said, “I’m very proud of the renovation. I have a great team here. We are like a family. This photo of all the signatures on the part of the wall that is now covered with brick symbolizes that. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Tag’s Bakery reopened Tuesday morning, Feb. 7, Store hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The bakery is currently accepting orders for Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras. A grand opening will be held at a later date, once all the finishing touches are in place.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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  1. We walked to Tag’s this morning to check out the reopening. Congratulations, Gretchen.
    It was awesome. All the cases are filled with gorgeous, delectable pastry delights — with lots of edible Valentines! The bakers have filled the wall shelves with traditional and inviting loaves of bread, coffee cake, and sweet rolls. Thanks RoundTable for recognizing Tag’s.Definitely worth another photo.
    I would encourage everyone to “make a beeline” to Central Street — directly to Tag’s – for a treat. And get a cup of coffee at Tag’s Cafe while you’re there.
    The Vetters are Central Street’s Legacy business. We’ve been enjoying Tag’s bread and pastries since 1968. And are delighted to be able to continue to do so.

  2. Congrats to Gretchen and her team and, of course, her mom!
    We can’t wait to order her coffee cakes and donuts!