ROGERS PARK — The majority of the Heartland Cafe came tumbling down Tuesday as the once-thriving Rogers Park hub was demolished for an apartment project.
The Heartland — at 7000 N. Glenwood alongside the Morse Red Line stop — closed in December after 42 years in Rogers Park. The building and site were sold in January for $1.3 million.
The buyer, Sam Goldman, and his family hope to rezone the property to build 60 residences, 3,800 square feet of commercial space and 31 parking spaces, according to rezoning requests filed with the city.
On Tuesday, demolition crews began the processing of taking down the building, leaving just the front of the cafe and a pile of wreckage at the end of the first day of work.
Some fans made sure to grab mementos. Chad Willetts, co-owner of Le Piano club across the street from the Heartland, collected terra cotta pieces.
“We wanted to honor what the Heartland represented by having a piece of their architecture in our space,” Willetts said.
He says the legacy of the Heartland will always be about community and healthy food — a staple of its menu.
But he doesn’t think the closing is part of any larger negative trend.
“It’s Rogers Park growing. If the community had supported and patronized it, it would have continued. Rogers Park made that decision,” he said. “It was just time for a great run to end.”
In December, Heartland owner Tom Rosenfeld told Block Club Chicago he expected the new development to be rentals and not condos, although he said he could not be sure what the developer’s plans were.
Rosenfeld felt confident that Goldman would develop the property with the community in mind. He said the Goldman family has been around Rogers Park for decades and understand the neighborhood.
“[Goldman] seems to be a nice guy and he is thinking about the community,” he said Tuesday.
When Rosenfeld announced the cafe’s closing, he expressed interest in re-opening somewhere in Rogers Park. He also suggested the possibility the Heartland Cafe could open in the newly developed space at the same site.
The Heartland Cafe hosted a President Barack Obama campaign rally back in 2004, and was a Rogers Park cultural hub for decades.