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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Emerald City Coffee Raising Money To Keep Lakeview Cafe Open As Potential Closure Looms

After 26 years underneath the Sheridan Red Line stop, Emerald City Coffee could soon close without financial support.

Emerald City Coffee, 3938 N. Sheridan Road, could close at the end of the month if it doesn't raise enough funds.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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LAKEVIEW — Emerald City Coffee, the cozy cafe tucked under the Sheridan Red Line stop for the last 26 years, is in peril because of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the store’s employees, Emerald City Coffee could close its storefront at 3938 N. Sheridan Road by November without financial support.

“We survived the last seven months with your amazing support, but we’re currently at risk of closing our doors permanently at the end of October,” team member Sarah Novosel posted online.

Emerald City Coffee’s second location, which opened in 2016 at 1224 W. Wilson Ave. in Uptown, is expected to survive, owners said.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicaog
Hanna Klein, a barista at Emerald City Coffee in Lakeview, said the cafe relied on CTA commuters for most of its business. With so many people working from home because of the pandemic, many of its customers stopped visiting.

Hanna Klein, a barista at the Lakeview cafe, said hours have been cut by about 50 percent since mid-March. The cafe has also already laid off many of its staffers.

Before the pandemic, Emerald City Coffee would have long lines of Red Line commuters reaching outside and along the block. With many of those commuters now working from home, Emerald City took a huge hit in sales, Klein said.

“It’s a bummer and I’m sad to see this place potentially go,” said Klein, who’s worked there for the last five years.

Klein said construction on a nearby seven-story apartment building at Sheridan Road and Dakin Street has brought a bump in sales from its workers, but nothing has been enough to sustain the business.

“We’ve been upping our sales every month, but still haven’t hit the benchmarks we need to hit,” Klein said. “So we’re really struggling and raising money to make it through this.”

Donations to the shop’s GoFundMe will help Emerald City Cafe stay open in Lakeview beyond October, Klein said. But if the cafe closes, the funds raised will be doled out to its baristas.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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