Northeast Oak Park could be getting a new coffee shop or ice cream shop – possibly a full-service pizza place.
Whatever form the new venture takes, it likely would be community-owned and follow a co-op model like Sugar Beet Food Co-op, according to Deno Andrews, who was recently elected to the Oak Park Board of Trustees and is spearheading fundraising to make it happen.
Andrews, who also is owner of Felony Franks fast-food restaurant on North Avenue in Oak Park, said he has been considering the idea because of a shortage of places to eat and get coffee in the northeast part of the village.
He said that although the names of investors in the venture would not be made public, he does not believe such a group would pose a conflict of interest for him as a voting member of the Oak Park Board of Trustees.
“I wouldn’t be a majority shareholder, so nobody is contributing money to me,” he said.
Andrews added that he likely would not sit on the board of the organization and that he is simply leading the effort to get the group off the ground.
“I see no issue with neighbors of mine getting together to build a coffee shop in our neighborhood,” he added
On Andrews’ personal website, he invites interested participants to submit their contact information and “maximum amount” of money they would like to invest in the project.
“The structure will be either a cooperative model like Sugar Beet [Food Co-op] on Madison, or a corporation with shares being issued to all the shareholders,” Andrews states on the website. “The structure will depend on the number of owners.”
Andrews estimates a coffee shop project would cost $275,000 to $300,000 to get it up and running.
He describes the ice cream shop as “super high quality locally made ice creams” for wholesale and retail sales. The estimated startup costs: $200,000 to $225,000.
The third option is for a full-service pizza restaurant with a bar and delivery. Andrews estimates startup costs $500,000 to $700,000.
“As a fractional owner, you would not be required to do any work, but you would have voting rights,” Andrews wrote on his website that served as his campaign website in the recent municipal election. “There would be a board of directors, freely elected each year by owners, to oversee policy and operations, and profit distribution.”
Andrews said in an interview that he believes the cooperative model is a good one that should be utilized more frequently in the village.
“I think more projects like this should happen. What there is in Oak Park is a serious lack of local investment,” he said, adding that with locally owned businesses “profits stay in Oak Park and that helps the local economy.”
Andrews said he plans to hold a meeting as early as next week with interested investors.
* This story was updated to correct the location of Felony Franks restaurant in Oak Park.