By Anna Lothson
Buzz Café's owner Laura Maychruk told Wednesday Journal in 2005, on its 10-year-anniversary, that she wasn't sure the café would be open for another 10, but liked to believe it could.
Five years later, she's halfway there.
The Buzz, which celebrated its official 15th birthday at the end of last month, is going as strong — if not stronger — and with the same diligence Maychruk and her husband Andrew brought to the dream in 1998. With the help of an active Oak Park community, and a niche café tucked off Harrison Street at 905 S. Lombard Ave., Buzz serves as an eatery, a meeting place, a community forum and a spot to display local art.
"There certainly have been some ups and downs, but we are as strong as we've ever been," Maychruk said. "It feels really, really good to not just make it, but to be successful. I'm feeling very proud."
Maychruk, currently the president of the Oak Park Arts District along Harrison Street, recognizes the startling percentage of restaurants and cafes that fail before they even get their name known in a town. Hitting 15 years makes it that much sweeter for Maychruk.
"I find it somewhat shocking that I'm still standing here. It does seem like an extraordinary amount of time," she said. "So much has happened in 15 years."
The Buzz has been the host of many community forums, including debates during the recent April municipal elections. Coincidently, when Maychruk thinks about the time the café has been open, she reflects on the events that have shaped the country politically in that time. September 11, the Clinton years, the Bush presidency, and Obama — those come to mind.
The start of the Buzz was inspired out of terribly tragedy, but grew into a pride-filled decision. When she was 27 she was working in Washington, D.C. Maychruk was attacked and stabbed 10 times in the back. The near-death experience changed her.
"It is the story about my life," Maychruk said. The attack inspired her to find more meaning and get entrenched in a community: Oak Park and Buzz became that beacon. "It changed my course entirely."
"I'm super community oriented. I'm living my life that way," she said.
She believes that mentality has been at the core of Buzz's success. There's no suggestion too big or small at Buzz. If you want to talk or have an idea, Buzz is likely the place to be; Maychruk is your person.
"I think we are delivering what people want. I think we listen. We pay attention to customers when they say we aren't doing the right thing," she said. "We're constantly shifting and growing and morphing."
Being receptive, she emphasized, is key to the popularity of Buzz.
"It all comes from the community," Maychruk said. "I'm the kind of person who says yes."
To learn more about Buzz and its upcoming events, visit thebuzzcafe.com.