A Place to Belong

Blackberry Market owners Bob and Anna Davidson ’97 explain the inspiration behind their business and how Wheaton prepared them to invest in their community.

For Anna Loibner Davidson ’97, Wheaton is about the relationships. “You are surrounded by people who encourage you to be the best you can be, who help you grow in your faith and take you on that journey in a really positive way.”

Anna and her husband, Bob ’97, worked with Young Life after graduating from Wheaton. “It was during this time in Young Life that we really invested in this community,” Bob says. “We raised our kids here. We are still connected to the College through the Young Life leaders that came out of there. Part of the decision to open Blackberry Market was because of our connection to the community, and we have a heart for creating spaces that mean something.”

With Anna’s experience as the head pastry chef at a local restaurant and Bob’s marketing savvy as creative producer at a branding agency, the couple decided to combine their talents and open Blackberry Market. Located in downtown Glen Ellyn, the casual café offers fresh meal options, premium coffee, pastries, and other to-go food items.

Anna and Bob saw the café as an opportunity to share their love of food with the community and create a place for people to feel welcome. “The table has always been a big image and metaphor for us. We were inspired by a quote that says, ‘The table is a place where you connect and belong.’”

Through their business the Davidsons have continued to be involved with the Wheaton College community as well. Many of their employees are current Wheaton students, and many of the individuals involved in the beginning phases of Blackberry Market (including investors, designers, and a photographer) were Wheaton graduates.

Reflecting back on their time at Wheaton, Anna and Bob agree that it gave them the foundation they needed for starting Blackberry Market. “Your vocation is one thing, but walking with Christ happens when you can spend four years learning, growing, and nurturing that faith with your professors and friends in your community,” Anna says. “We learned at Wheaton that all aspects of your life permeate each other, first with the integration of faith and learning at Wheaton and then in our years at Young Life. That’s true here, and that’s what we love. We can see the way God is working and moving in this business.”

by Alex Soholt '16