In 2016, Kalkidan Tesfaye offered her homemade scones to the owner of the coffee shop on the east side of Oak Park Avenue and he responded by offering her the entire storefront. Figuring fate had intervened, Tesfaye accepted the offer and opened Addis Café. She called the space home for six years before the chef-owner and her co-owner-husband, Michael Kumela, moved their café across the street to a bright and cheery new home at 801 Van Buren St.
Tesfaye wasn’t looking for a new space, but project managers with The Community Builders who oversaw the construction of “The 801” at the corner of Oak Park and Van Buren, encouraged her to move into the retail storefront on the lower level of the building offering high quality, yet affordable apartments.
“They would keep asking ‘what is it going to take to get you in here?’” said Tesfaye. “They offered to build a full kitchen to my specifications and that was too good to pass up.”
The capable cook likes the freedom a full kitchen offers her bourgeoning business. Prior to relocating to Oak Park and opening Addis Café, Tesfaye and her brother spent 11 years operating, Addis Restaurant, an Ethiopian eatery located in Berkeley, California. A native of Addis, Ethiopia, Tesfaye has periodically hosted pop-up dinners featuring her vegan Ethiopian fare. After each successful pop-up calls for her to begin serving regular dinners have grown louder.
The new space is equipped with a professional ventilation system and industrial cooking appliances allowing Tesfaye to expand her café menu to include Ethiopian dinner offerings. The chef indicated she is going to take some time to “introduce herself to the new space,” but expects dinner service to commence soon.
In the meantime Tesfaye is serving up the pour over coffee, elaborate waffle creations and berry jam and cream-filled scones customers have come to love. The light-filled space with generous outdoor seating has become a celebration of the old meeting the new that the community had hoped it would be.
“Coffee in Ethiopia is meant to be shared — one pot would serve many people so friends, neighbors and sometimes even strangers would share a pot,” said Tesfaye. “My customers have spent time getting to know my customs and they have become like a family to me.”
801 S Oak Park Ave, Oak Park