Community coffee shop suffers setback

Location eyed by organizer, trustee purchased

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Things have been quiet for the last year on the idea of establishing a community owned coffee shop in northeast Oak Park, but one thing is for sure – it won't be located at 130 Chicago Ave.

That's because the property was recently purchased for a different business. Theresa Jurgus, a broker associate with Baird & Warner who managed the deal, declined to discuss the plans for the location, which previously was Zephyr Cleaners, but she did say it was not likely to be a dry cleaner business in the future.

She did note that it is under local ownership and "someone capable of doing a great job with this property."

The property was being watched closely by Oak Park Village Trustee Deno Andrews, who put out a call last year to northeast Oak Parkers interested in establishing a co-op-style community funded business.

He estimated it would cost about $700,000 to get the venture off the ground. In August of 2017, Andrews had more than 220 people who had committed to contribute approximately $325,600 toward the venture.

"As a fractional owner, you would not be required to do any work, but you would have voting rights," Andrews wrote last year. "There would be a board of directors, freely elected each year by owners, to oversee policy and operations, and profit distribution."

Andrews, who is the former owner of Felony Franks restaurant on North Avenue – that business closed up shop about a year ago – said in a recent interview that the community café concept is "very much alive".

"I don't want it to fail, so I'm not just going to jump on the wrong space," he said.

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Reader Comments

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Neal Buer  

Posted: November 22nd, 2018 9:50 PM

Deno, Thanks for clarifying.

Deno J. Andrews  

Posted: November 22nd, 2018 7:31 PM

Clarification- if the project were to come to fruition, it would be a private tax-paying company that would be owned by members of the community (shareholders). It is not related to local government in any way whatsoever. My work as a Trustee is part time and does not conflict with my long time thought that a co-op style cafe would be a great fit for Oak Park. With that stated, the main reason this project isn't moving forward is the lack of the right space at the right price in Northeast Oak Park. We continue to look at property but nothing that would work is on the market.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: November 22nd, 2018 3:19 PM

Tom: Yep.

Neal Buer  

Posted: November 22nd, 2018 10:57 AM

The village needs two faces - The one that talks about cutting taxes, and the other one that never met a project they didn't like.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2018 10:33 AM

Freely electing management at some sort of communal coffee shop sounds so Oak Park, and so crazy not ever going to work. Is this really what a Trustee spends time on?

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