EDGEWATER — Metropolis Coffee Company is temporarily closing its Edgewater cafe and hoping to return to normal when the worst of the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.
The coffee shop at 1039 W. Granville Ave. closed Friday with plans to reopen April 26. The down time will hopefully save the business precious funds while allowing it to reposition for a return to normalcy post-coronavirus, Metropolis co-owner Tony Dreyfuss said.
“I know we can make it to summer, but only if we’re really careful,” Dreyfuss said.
The temporary closure comes as coronavirus business restrictions are being lifted after a brutal year for the food and drink industry. Numerous restaurants that decided to close through the winter are reopening, as the city has recently allowed indoor dining at 40 percent of a business’ capacity.
Metropolis has been open in various forms since the early days of the pandemic, but the cafe has not had a profitable day since the pandemic swept into Chicago last year, Dreyfuss said.
In hindsight, Dreyfuss said it may have been more prudent to follow other restaurants’ leads and close for the winter. With the pandemic still gripping the city, Dreyfuss made the painful decision to temporarily shut down now and save money until more normal operations are feasible, he said.
The plan is to revamp Metropolis to once again host indoor seating and full service, including a revised menu. That will require an overhaul from the shop’s setup.
“This is the hardest decision we’ve ever made, by far,” he said. “It’s not like there’s a road map for this.”
Metropolis, opened in 2003, closed March 16 as the pandemic hit Chicago. The neighborhood favorite cafe reopened essentially as a takeout window, with its entrance acting as an ordering window and its exit as a pickup station.
As the weather turned colder, the takeout window didn’t work as well, Dreyfuss said. Metropolis put up a temporarily wall that sectioned off about half of the coffee shop. A plexiglass window was installed in the partition, allowing customers to come inside the space and order.
The idea was to keep customers and employees as safe as possible, but the operation didn’t work business-wise, Dreyfuss said.
“It had the feeling of going to Lincoln Towing or something,” he said. “It just didn’t work.”
Metropolis’ Avondale roastery will remain open, Dreyfuss said. His cafe employees will be offered their old jobs once the business reopens.
Dreyfuss chose the late April reopening date as his best guess as to when life will start returning to normal in Chicago. His employees should be able to receive the vaccine by then, and hopefully much of the customer base, too, he said.
The city’s tentative timeline for vaccinations would see Phase 1C start in late March. During that phase, essential workers and Chicagoans with underlying health conditions can receive shots.
Metropolis’ commitment to its employees and the community is what has kept the cafe open through the pandemic, Dreyfuss said. A return to normalcy will hopefully benefit neighborhood spots like Metropolis, which was a lively and popular community gathering place before the pandemic.
“It definitely feels like we’re turning a corner,” Dreyfuss said. “I think it bodes well for shops like ours.”
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