ENGLEWOOD — Six months after a pandemic-imposed hiatus, Kusyana Cafe is welcoming patrons back with fresh cups of coffee and warm smiles.
The nonprofit coffee shop, 825 W. 69th St. in Englewood, officially reopened March 29. While it’s operating on an abbreviated schedule, owner Phil Sipka told Block Club that he’s happy to be back in business.
“The pandemic affected us greatly, in a lot of crazy ways, good and bad. Luckily we’ve had kind of a diversified stream of income since we also roast coffee. So roasting has been up, but the cafe has been much harder,” Sipka said. “I always tell people that food services is kind of like a freight train in that it takes a lot to start it, and a lot to stop it.”
Thankfully the cafe received a lot of support from the community, which — coupled with city grants — helped Kusanya stay afloat, said Sipka, who opened the cafe in 2013. Being a “more mature organization” also helped.
“Had this happened in our second or third year, I think it would’ve had a bigger impact on us. We probably wouldn’t have survived,” he said.
The hiatus allowed Sipka and his team time to streamline the menu, adding more “grab-and-go” options while cutting other offerings to save costs. A couple of old sandwiches will leave the menu to make room for new ones, and a new chopped kale salad will also be added.
While events like community yoga are still on pause for now, Kusanya’s future as a gathering place for friends and neighbors is for the community to decide, Sipka said.
“How we move forward and how the community reacts is up to the neighborhood. The board and I are pretty excited about the large outdoor garden we’ve been developing for three years now, called ‘The Canvas,’ and it’s finally coming to fruition,” he said, adding that they were able to host the Englewood Jazz Fest there last fall.
For now, the Kusanya team is working to reconnect with neighbors, letting them know the coffee shop is open again.
“We plan to start back hosting events as soon as we can. A lot of things are up to the neighbors themselves to report back, in conjunction with what the city allows us to do,” Sipka said.
Kusanya Cafe is open from 7 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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