Community cafe attracts investors

Group led by trustee Deno Andrews looks to locate at Zephyr Cleaners

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The plan for a community-owned café in northeast Oak Park is gaining momentum, according to Oak Park Trustee Deno Andrews, who is spearheading the business venture.

Andrews said more than 220 people have committed to contributing approximately $325,600 toward the project that he estimates will cost roughly $700,000 to get off the ground.

The building would cost about $400,000 to purchase and the demolition and build-out is estimated to run about $300,000, according to Andrews.

He also revealed that the group is looking at Zephyr Cleaners, 130 Chicago Ave., as a possible location for the co-op-style business.

Andrews estimates that the venture needs about 100 to 200 more investors to move forward.

"For me the ideal thing is to have more people putting in less money," he said, noting that he aims to make it owned by large numbers of people in the community, rather than a few investors. 

He emphasized that the Zephyr Cleaners location is preliminary. "We're not anywhere near making anyone an offer," he said.

The co-op model would ultimately pay dividends to investors, according to Andrews, but the main goal is to open a café in northeast Oak Park. 

Andrews envisions a small café that serves sandwiches, desserts, coffee and has a small stage for performances.

The business would be staffed by at-risk employees and would pay a living wage, he said. Andrews, who also owns Felony Franks fast-food restaurant, 6427 W. North Ave., employs ex-offenders as staff.

Andrews said raising the $700,000 to get the business running prevents the need to borrow money.

"The key is raising equity so the business doesn't have to start in debt," he said.

More information about the project is available at https://www.facebook.com/groups/697641560441605/

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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