RACINE — For Tesa Santoro, Blue Bear and Blue Bear Bakery are more than just businesses.
"I wanted a place that anyone could come and eat and feel comfortable, whether you had Lyme disease or an autoimmune issue, or you have a celiac issue," says Tesa Santoro, co-owner of Blue Bear.
Diagnosed with Lyme disease herself, Tesa says everything at Blue Bear is made from scratch and supplied by local vendors.
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"If you order a sandwich, it comes on our bread, and our bread only has four ingredients, says Tesa. "We don't use any stabilizers or additives or preservatives in our baked goods, either."
Knowing that Blue Bear supports other local vendors, patrons are doing their part to keep Blue Bear open.
"We've had a tremendous amount of support from the community, just overwhelming. Especially the first couple of weeks when everything was going on, and no one knew how long this would last. Being able to work with smaller farms and vendors and having that one on one relationship, they realize we all have to help each other out during this time," says Tesa.
But the support hasn't stopped at Blue Bears kitchen. Instead of offering discounts, Tesa donates a portion of each order to local food pantries.
"We will call and say, what are you guys low on? Or we are literally making bread. We donated 50 loaves of bread to the local YMCA for their children's lunch program because the kids are all out of school. So the community is supporting us, so we are trying to do what we can to support the community," says Tesa.
They are proving that even during a pandemic, you can have your cake and eat it too. You just have to know the right recipe.
Blue Bear, located at 2920 Taylor Ave. in Racine, is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.