AVONDALE — When the coronavirus pandemic hit last spring, the owners of Avondale Coffee Club shut down the neighborhood coffee shop and “checked out,” leaving their employees in the lurch.
The move left general manager Kati Paiz disheartened, so she made a pledge to the employees under her: “I told them, ‘I promise if there’s an opportunity for me to take over the cafe, you’ll have your jobs back.'”
Six months later, Paiz has fulfilled that promise. She and her fiance, Adam Paronto, have taken over the coffee shop at 3185 N. Elston Ave. and hired back laid off employees. They celebrated a grand reopening earlier this month, on March 6.
“It felt like a sense of duty. We have to bring this back to a community that appreciated it,” Paiz said.
The new Avondale Coffee Club doesn’t appear too different, but the couple has made some notable changes since taking over.
While they kept the Avondale Coffee Club name so as not to confused neighbors, they added “by Reprise Roasters,” the suburban coffee roastery they run.
They’re now offering a full lineup of their sustainably-sourced coffee, which they roast out of a facility in Libertyville and source from farms in Nicaragua and Colombia. The old Avondale Coffee Club only offered some of the couple’s blends.
Pour-over coffee, which has become harder to find at city coffee shops because it’s time-consuming to make, is the shop’s new speciality, Paiz said.
The couple has also brought on a new baked goods provider: Bennison’s Bakery. The Evanston bakery drops off a small assortment of fresh baked goods daily.
Paiz said they’ve only made slight changes to the cafe’s interior, which is full of mid-century modern furniture. Their overall goal, she said, is to uphold the spirt of the original Avondale Coffee Club, which became a go-to spot in a short time. The previous owners opened the coffee shop in 2018.
“Parents would bring their kids to story hours in Spanish led by a mom in Avondale,” Paiz said. “When you start meeting people like that, it ends up being kind of a community center. It’s not just a business anymore. It’s not about trying to make money, it’s truly about bringing people together. That’s what Adam and I really wanted to do.”
Avondale Coffee Club is the couple’s second coffee shop. They also run a coffee shop in Evanston named after their roastery.
But reopening the Avondale cafe is a personal project for the couple, who recently moved to the neighborhood.
“We just care about people, we care about our community, we care about sourcing — we pay premium prices for our coffee so that farmers who grow our coffee get paid a livable wage. We care about people over profits,” Paiz said. “We’re just really happy to be back.”
Avondale Coffee Club is now open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.