EDGEWATER — Daniel Barat was coming up on two years of owning Rewired Cafe when he learned the Edgewater storefront the business called home was being redeveloped.
But being forced to move locations has allowed Barat to rethink his business concept — and hopefully make it coronavirus-proof.
After nearly two years on Berwyn Avenue, Rewired Cafe has moved to 1100 W. Thorndale Ave. and rebranded as Rewired Pizza Cafe and Bar. It opened last week.
Whereas the old version of Rewired served coffeehouse fare, the new Rewired is a hybrid business. It has coffee service in the mornings and serves pizza and cocktails the rest of the day.
Coffee and pizza work well for takeout orders, which is ideal for an eatery that opened during an indoor dining ban, Barat said.
“I think this is the most sustainable route of business,” he said. “This has probably been the most challenging opening of any restaurant I’ve ever ran, worked at or managed.”
Barat opened the original Rewired Cafe in Lakeview in 2017. He expanded into Edgewater in January 2019, opening steps from the Red Line at 1107 W. Berwyn Ave. The Lakeview location closed in October 2019.
Earlier this year, Barat learned the building his business rented in was sold in advance of a planned redevelopment. Rewired Cafe’s neighbor, Steep Theater, also lost its home on Berwyn and is looking for a new space.
Barat was looking for a home for Rewired when he was told about the space at 1100 W. Thorndale Ave., which housed a pizzeria named Veranda until October 2019.
The space came with room for cafe seating, high-top tables near the bar, a patio and a full kitchen. It allowed Barat to expand his business into dinner and bar service.
The pizza offerings are unique, too.
Rewired chef Jesus Escobedo has dreamed up a fried chicken pizza (with chicken, bell peppers, cheddar and ranch), an al pastor pizza (pork, pineapple, pickled onions and green salsa) and onion soup pizza (caramelized onions, white sauce and parmesan).
The cafe also has a full menu of salads, appetizers, sandwiches and pastries, plus coffee, beer, wine and cocktails.
Barat signed the lease on Thorndale in August and began building out his business just as coronavirus cases started to climb in the city.
The plan was for 125 seats plus the patio. During a training session for the restaurant service, the indoor dining ban was announced, Barat said.
He had to halt the service training and let his 12 staffers know most would not be working at the opening of the business.
“The worst thing is, this is the second time this year” he has had to lay off staff, Barat said. “And there’s not a lot of solutions.”
Barat hopes to-go coffee orders and pizza delivery will carry Rewired through the winter, which is likely to be a grueling period for the service industry in Chicago.
Relocating in Barat’s home neighborhood of Edgewater was also strategic, he said, as the neighbors are serious about supporting local business.
“Edgewater has so much support for small businesses,” Barat said. “It was important that, if we moved, we stay [in Edgewater] and be here for our customers.”
Rewired Pizza Cafe and Bar is open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday. For more information, click here.
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