New store via Chia Leah to open near pizzeria
Popular Wilmette health-food brand leases space in Westlake Plaza
Home cooking comes with advantages, and Chia Leah is looking forward to them.
The healthy-snack company that has worked from a Chicago kitchen the past couple of years is returning to Wilmette in Westlake Plaza, 3217 Lake Ave., with its first brick-and-mortar space
“We are super excited to come back to Wilmette,” said Leah Bostrom, the founder and namesake of Chia Leah. “We have a really loyal following here — really supportive clients.”
Chia Leah began in 2015 as a solution for Bostrom and her family.
The Wilmette mother needed to feed her children healthful snacks they were not allergic to and Bostrom needed to address her low energy and depression. Chia Leah, the health and life coach, was born.
“Everybody was like, ‘I need a health coach,'” she said. “I was flying by the seat of my pants.”
Soon enough, Bostrom — with help from her creative husband whom she calls her silent partner — had office space in downtown Wilmette, where she developed different recipes to help her clients.
Those recipes turned into a Chia Leah affiliate called Chia Leah Clean Eats, featuring everything from granola to breakfast cookies.
The snacks are vegan and gluten-free and feature natural ingredients such as — of course — chia seeds, nutritional yeast, quinoa flakes, dark chocolate and fruit (banana, orange, cherries, etc.)
“Really the mission is to fuel a healthy lifestyle,” she said. ” … If someone tries one of our products and that’s the gateway to try more foods to help them feel energized, that’s great.”
First, around 2018, she sold them at farmers markets, and then through her online store, and eventually at local shops and grocery stores. Today, Chia Leah snack products are in 30 Chicagoland stores (Central Station Coffee and Tea, Hometown Coffee and Juice, Sunset Foods, The Grand, etc.) and one in Atlanta.
Soon the items can be picked up right from the source. Chia Leah’s new space will include a kitchen, so Bostrom and company can sell fresh classics and limited-edition snacks, as well.
Bostrom said the goal is always to create healthful food that people enjoy and that’s why her team is always adding to its lineup.
“You’ll be able to walk in and get all stuff you can always find and also get a breakfast cookie of the day and some other fun stuff we have up our sleeves,” she said. “I really am passionate about making sure we eat what makes us happy and we enjoy eating our food. … This is more about empowerment and curiousity and bringing energizing ingredients that are wholesome and real.”
The Chia Leah storefront build-out will begin as soon as Bostrom and company receive Village approval of their designs, and she believes it should open in about five months.
The store will be the latest of new additions to the Westlake Plaza, which is anchored by Lou Malnati’s pizza and Akai Hana Restaurant (Japanese). Also soon entering the plaza will be a Japanese takeout restaurant from the owners of Torino Ramen in downtown Wilmette.
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Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319