Momentum Coffee co-owner Tracy Powell standing in front of the mural at the North Lawndale location. Credit: Trey Arline/Block Club Chicago

NORTH LAWNDALE — Momentum Coffee opened a North Lawndale cafe this year — and is already looking to expand again on the West Side.

The local cafe chain offers classic drinks like lattes, cold brews and teas, as well as breakfast sandwiches, pastries and other treats. Its North Lawndale outpost, 2644 W. Ogden Ave., opened in February.

The North Lawndale location is open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The coffee shop is part of the Ogden Commons project, a large development creating affordable housing and retail space to address local issues like food scarcity, poverty and lack of housing.

Co-founder Tracy Powell said he and co-founder Nikki Bravo will also open a location in Austin in May, building on his desire to bring more development and commerce to the West Side. The Austin location is set to appear in the BUILD Chicago Center at 5112 W. Harrison St.

“It’s a labor of love,” Powell said. “It’s not easy, but development has to start somewhere. Someone has to be the first one.”

The owners want the cafe to be a forward-thinking space that encourages close collaboration for people who do their work there, and they want empower communities of color through celebrating Black culture, Powell said.

Powell hopes to bring events to the cafe, as well; he’s signed off on a barista’s suggestion to host an open mic night.

Credit: Trey Arline
Photos of Black musical legends provided by the Chicago Blues Museum.

Powell and Bravo opened the first Momentum in 2019 in the South Loop and have since opened cafes in Millennium Park and Englewood. Each has a unique theme.

The North Lawndale location combines Powell’s love of community with his passion for classic Black cinema, he said. A large mural featuring depictions of Richard Pryor, Hattie McDaniel and Pam Grier greet customers when they walk in.

The coffee shop also has a photo gallery — provided by the Chicago Blues Museum for a limited time — featuring photos of legendary performers such as B.B. King and Jackie Wilson. It will transition into a gallery of classic and contemporary Black actors and filmmakers.

The theme was also inspired by the shop’s proximity to Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. 

“As a big history person, I always felt understanding where we come from gives us an understanding of who we are” today, Powell said. “Whether it is movies, films, technology or music, it carries with us everywhere we go.”

Credit: Trey Arline
Baristas preparing an order at the North Lawndale location.

Barista Tyrie Chambliss said Momentum suits her as a former Starbucks employee and a former Columbia College film student.

“When you are in Columbia film school, you don’t learn a lot about Black cinema, “Chambliss said. “It’s nice to hear the names and see what they’ve done for cinema in general.”

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