Bleeding Heart Bakery Sucks

An inside look at Chicago's Bleeding Heart Bakery. "Punk rock pastry" that exploits its workers and treats its customers like crap.
The tender age of 13, huh? Seems like one year gets subtracted every time I read a new version of this lame story.

The tender age of 13, huh? Seems like one year gets subtracted every time I read a new version of this lame story.

Submission: Complete crap.

Turns out all the bakeries must talk, I can’t seem to land a job at any of them because of Bleeding Heart and I was the best manager they had since I gave a crap. The last interview I had the owner said “I really didn’t want to to even call you for an interview because I saw you worked for BHB. I know all about Michelle and we all are hesistant to hire her workers.” Great, needless to say I busted my butt and still didn’t get the job. I feel like ive been blacklisted. Besides that Michelle works at the Four Seasons in Cali which is why it’s just Vinny doing Broken Sparrow. She knew her name was bullshit on anything, that people thought she was crazy. So she wants Vinny as the focus because hes the “nicer” one. I feel sorry for anyone who falls for this new shop and works there, I know what theyll go through.

Submission: These Evil Individuals ran off with OUR Deposit for our WEDDING CAKE!!!

We contacted BHB for our wedding cake and signed a contract with them. We gave them a deposit for the cake and changed our wedding date to May of 2013 and contacted them to give them this information. This was a month before all the emails saying they are closing and thanks for your support. blah blah blah. We left multiple emails and voice mails to the Stores, Vinny, Michelle, etc. with no response or anything. They ran off with our money!!! How does any one with any morals, screw someone over on their wedding!!! 

Submission: My Tweet Tooth

I enjoy writing goofy jokes on Twitter, as goofy kids do. People rarely respond (or even read them), but then I posted this gem:

Needless to say, they took it to (bleeding) heart and launched this zinger:

Their cakeballs were good, though.

Class Action Lawsuit

I received an email from someone interested in filing a class action lawsuit. If you are a former BHB employee who has not received your paycheck I have an email address for you. Contact me.

Submission: Now Broken Sparrow Cakes

It looks like Michelle and Vinny packed up their bags and left for San Francisco to open yet another bakery: Broken Sparrow Cakes. The Bleeding Heart Flickr page includes a link for Broken Sparrow Cakes and features a photo of Vinny. Nowhere does it mention Michelle or Vinny by name, however, but the story, flavors, and typos are the same.

You can change the name and the location, but Michelle and Vinny sank ship here and they’ll do it again there. Warn your friends.

Submission: This is only a fraction of what went down.

The truth is, I don’t know how to put all of this into one logical stream, but I’ll do the best I can. I might be revealing enough to identify me, if she wants to put in the effort, but the truth is I don’t really care anymore.

I started as an unpaid intern. One of SEVEN unpaid interns in the back of house. In fact, there wasn’t a single boh employee that was paid. All of us were brought on under the story that, while we weren’t paid for baking, we would be allowed to work part of our hours in the front of house in order to make some money, in addition to getting paid to work the Farmer’s Markets throughout the city. The thing was, we were only allowed to work the Farmer’s Markets on our ONLY day off during the week, effectively having us work 7 days a week. And working front of house? Not a chance.

My day began at 6am and would never end before 10pm and there were some that worked even longer hours than I. There were occasions where at least 4-5 of us would actually sleep at the bakery, curling up on one of the couches or underneath the tables in the front. When anything was said, we were told it was because we sucked at our jobs and just needed to work harder/faster. There was no training, despite the fact that only one of the seven of us had ever worked in a bakery before. In fact, one of the supervisors WAS an intern, even being told to lie to the supervising school that was calling to check up on their intern.

There were no breaks and there was no eating allowed. On one occasion when we were up on our production list, I decided to take a short break to get dinner (At 5:30pm. My first break of the day.) When I returned, I was greeted by a barrage of belittling and angry shouts. I was told that while I was over there eating and, no doubt complaining that I was tired, I could have taken that time to work harder and then I’d get out earlier, so it was no longer her fault that I was working insanely long hours.

The employees were treated like crap. We would have full-on employee meetings where they literally stated that they didn’t want all of us to be friends, because they just knew we would sit and complain and plot against them. Michelle would pull people aside and lie about things others had said, just to keep everyone on her side. We were insulted and manipulated daily. There was a gay guy who worked the front of house and she very vocally made fun of him and made lewd jokes and crass comments about how “stereotypically gay” the guy was. She made fun of peoples’ religions, made fun of the way they dressed, where they lived, the way they looked. These weren’t jokes, they weren’t made in fun. They were intended to hurt and break people down so she would look that much more powerful.

There was no taking off for family functions, vacations, nothing. Not even if you were sick. I was vomiting for an entire evening and had a fever of 103 and when I attempted to call in, was told that was unacceptable and I needed to come in. So I did. And I handled peoples’ food, all the while trying not to pass out. I sprained my ankle and was given strict doctor’s orders to not stand on it for 3 days, excusing me from work. When I told Michelle, the text I received was “Well, that sucks, because there’s work to do.” I stayed home that day, but I went the day after, simply kneeling on a stool so I could get my work done. She wouldn’t do it, and it would be my fault that customers were angry. In the summer, the back of house was over 102 degrees and we were told repeatedly that we were not allowed to go to the front of house to cool off, because it would disrupt the customers.

We were never allowed to talk about any other cake companies  with positive reviews. She would check up on employees facebook pages and essentially bring them in for questioning.

Once I DID begin getting paid, it was agreed that I would get $8.00 an hour. Practically nothing, but it was better than being an unemployed college student. I worked 84 hours my first week. When my check came, it was for only $300. I was told that they decided to Salary me and I wouldn’t be getting any overtime (even though labor laws state you must be paid over $450/wk to be exempt from overtime. Either way, she was screwing me over.)

I was the only person out of all seven interns who went back to school right away, though that almost didn’t happen. When I got there, I was pulled into offices, so I could tell my story, as all of the portfolios from BHB were saying some horrible things. The school begged me to go after them for lost wages (which they estimated at $2,000+,) and exploiting their workers, but the truth was, I couldn’t handle even thinking about BHB any more. The absolute shit I had been dealing with for months had seeped into my every nerve ending and I just needed to be done. Money or not. I have never been as close to insanity as I was while at BHB. It was truly scary and I had family and chef instructors worried. It took me a long time to recover and, while it might sound a bit melodramatic, I still hold scars from when I worked for them. I was terrified for years about working in another cake shop, for fear it would be exactly the same. Even now, as I’m about to enter another one, I’m still worried.

I spent months, years defending them, always saying “It’s not that they’re bad people. It’s that they don’t know how to run a business,” but the truth is, good people wouldn’t treat others this way. They wouldn’t exploit unsuspecting public and create an image through lying, stealing, and cheating. I don’t wish ill on them, but I certainly hope they never have the opportunity to treat people that way again.

Submission: Bummed Groom

My wife and I hired BHB to cater our wedding a few years ago. We are both vegans and this left us with very few options, but BHB was suggested by our venue and we decided to take a look. After several missed/rescheduled meetings by Michelle (once we actually went to the Lakeview location only to be told by an employee that Michelle wasn’t coming) we finally met and discussed food and our cake. Michelle was pretty friendly and the food that she/someone prepared for us was absolutely incredible. In fact, the seitan was the BEST that I had ever tasted. After that, we decided BHB was our place.

Skip forward to the day of the wedding. The cake looks great, the staff is there and very friendly…everything is going great. My wife and I finally get a few moments to go and try the food, and I’m stoked because I can’t wait to eat some of that great seitan. I take one bite and my heart sank. UPTON’S NATURALS!!! Those fools just went out and bought a shit-ton of UPTON’S seitan and other mediocre vegan stuff you can get at any grocery store. And still, they somehow managed to screw that up too because the food tasted disgusting.  There was no absolutely no resemblance between what we had tried at the store and what was now on our guest’s plates. 

Needless to say, I was very unhappy and felt like we had been ripped off. But because the cake was good and my wife didn’t want a confrontation, I kept it to myself until now.