HUMBOLDT PARK — After a five-year run, neighborhood coffee shop Cup & Spoon is closing its doors — but fear not java lovers, another coffee shop is opening in its place.
Owner of Cup & Spoon, Rosie Quasarano, is closing the cozy cafe at 2415 W. North Ave. to pursue her coffee roasting business, Littlefoot, full time. Cup & Spoon’s last day of business is set for March 20.
Quasarano is handing the baton off to 38-year-old Todd Burbo, the brother of her roasting partner, Alex. Burbo is planning to open his own coffee shop, a first for the industry veteran, in the Cup & Spoon storefront by early April.
Burbo’s shop is called Harrison’s Cafe and Clubhouse. It’s named after one of Burbo’s favorite authors Jim Harrison, who is known for his profound love of Northern Michigan, among other things.
“[Harrison] is a just a beautiful writer. When I think about the Midwest, I think of Jim Harrison. I wanted anything but a coffee pun or a name that referenced coffee,” said Burbo, who is originally from the Detroit area.
Burbo first moved to Chicago nearly 15 years ago; he went on to work for nearly every indie coffee chain in town: Intelligentsia, Dark Matter, Bow Truss and Dollop. In 2016, Burbo moved to Austin, Texas for a job at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, but he quickly found himself missing Chicago.
“For the first year or two I was convinced that I was just homesick. The longer I’ve been [in Austin], Chicago just feels like home in a way that Texas never will,” Burbo said.
So when Quasarano approached Burbo about taking over Cup & Spoon, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It wasn’t just a blank investment or me gambling a ton of money at an untested space. It’s already an established cafe,” he said.
“Rosie is a huge part of the deal,” Burbo said. “I’ve been in the coffee industry forever, but that doesn’t really correlate to business owning. She’s really been mentoring me.”
Quasarano said it was important to her that Cup & Spoon stay an independently-owned coffee shop.
“My biggest fear was leaving a hole in the community. Knowing I wanted to switch gears, I really wanted to find someone who had a passion for opening a business on their own and fostering community in a coffee shop,” Quasarano said, adding that Burbo is that person.
Harrison’s Cafe and Clubhouse will serve Little Foot coffee, made by Quasarano and Burbo’s brother — just like Cup & Spoon did. It’ll also serve pastries and light lunch items.
Burbo isn’t planning to do a major overhaul of the space — he’s just going to cozy it up with fresh paint and plants. Right now, Cup & Spoon has the feel of an art gallery, Burbo said, and he wants to bring more warmth to the space.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Harrison’s and Cup & Spoon will be the “clubhouse” component. Harrison’s will double as an event space; Burbo envisions a calendar of events curated by patrons.
“I’m really into synthesizers. I want to get together with other synth nerds [for an event]. I’m going to be recording a podcast out of the space. I want it to be a place where people can do something that they’ve wanted to do, but couldn’t in their tiny apartment,” Burbo said.
To make the clubhouse component a reality, Burbo is raising money on Indiegogo. The money raised will go toward equipment like a PA system and microphones, as well as other amenities, all of which will be used for events.
Quasarano called the “clubhouse” the natural next step for the space.
In the lead-up to the transition, Burbo will spend several weeks working at Cup & Spoon, learning the ropes. It’s that collaboration that makes Quasarano feel confident in handing over the reigns.
“I’m really looking forward to him putting his own spin on the space,” she said of Burbo.
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