UPTOWN— After buying Ridman’s Coffee, Ryan Haynes and Danielle Holtz hung up fairy lights, pushed the tables out of the way and got married in the coffee shop, which has always felt like home to them.
“We had this vision of keeping it small and clearing space for a dance floor but still using Ridman’s couches and armchairs,” Holtz said. “It snowed all day, and the floor-to-ceiling windows created a snow globe effect that was just beautiful. We danced the night away.”
The string lights that shone down on Haynes and Holtz during their first dance are still hanging in the coffee shop as the pair strive to maintain its welcoming, communal atmosphere, which was created by its founders, Sarah Riddle and Katy Weseman.
Haynes and Holtz took the reins of the shop, 4758 N. Clark St., over the winter.
Riddle and Weseman founded Ridman’s in 2017.
As one of the few baristas working there throughout the pandemic, Haynes became close with the founders, who eventually sold him the shop. The couples consider each other family; Riddle officiated Haynes and Holtz’s wedding, Holtz said.
“Sarah would share a lot about why she wanted to open the coffee shop and about her idea of community,” Holtz said. “When she discovered Ryan had a similar dream, she wanted to support him in making that dream live on.”
Haynes has a decade of experience in the service industry while Holtz works full-time for Chicago Public Schools. The couple’s skills closely align with those of the former owners: Riddle was a food industry expert and Weseman worked in education.
“What we’re good at overlaps with what Ridman’s has always tried to do from its inception, which is to make people feel welcome but also introduce good people to what’s around them, including their neighbors,” Haynes said.
Haynes and Holtz brought in a bit more natural light, hung up new art and introduced more drinks to the menu, but they have tried to preserve the shop’s atmosphere.
“We felt really passionate about maintaining the spirit of the vibrancy the original owners brought to the shop and were just looking for things to add,” Holtz said. “Ridman’s is well-loved. We didn’t want to fix something that wasn’t broken. This place has always felt like home to us, and we wanted to hang onto that feeling.”
The pair also wants to implement more environmentally sustainable practices to reduce waste. Ridman’s offers a discount for people who bring their own reusable cups and for in-store customers who use ceramic mugs to sip smaller drinks, like espressos.
“We’ll always have paper products because we understand where Uptown is within the city and we want anyone to be able to come into the shop,” Haynes said. “We just want to let people know this is something that matters to use and nudge people to opt in if they’re able to.”
To further ensure anyone can access Ridman’s communal spaces, all employees can provide up to $10 in free treats for anyone who isn’t able to pay for their order.
“We cover it because you’ve got to take care of your people,” Holtz said.
Holtz’s favorite drink is the Granola Cup, a latte flavored with cinnamon, almond and granola. Her favorite pastry is DeFloured’s Early Grey bundt cake.
Haynes loves pHlour’s chocolate muffins and the experimental drinks he makes on the fly, but he recommends customers try Puddin’ Cup. Riddle designed the drink to be “an ode to banana pudding,” Haynes said.
“It’s not often that you get something that’s banana-flavored that doesn’t taste like candy,” Haynes said.
In the future, Haynes and Holtz hope to invite artists into the space for open mic nights and provide more discounted drinks for educators and other community members.
“We want to invite people that we care about into our space and make them feel seen, that’s what matters most to us,” Holtz said.
Ridman’s Coffee is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
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