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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Loba Pastry + Cafe In Lakeview Closes For Now As Owner Fundraises To Open Nearby Location This Fall

Loba's new cafe at 1800 W. Addison St., a couple of blocks north of its longtime home, will have a larger kitchen and more seating for customers.

Valeria Taylor, owner of Loba Pastry + Cafe, which closed Wednesday in preparation for its move to a new location.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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LAKEVIEW — Valeria Taylor and her team at Loba Pastry + Coffee spent most of Wednesday busy with orders and saying “see you soon” to their regular customers.

The cafe and bakery, which opened at 3422 N. Lincoln Ave. in 2016, closed that location for good Wednesday and plans to relocate a few blocks north.

The move to 1800 W. Addison St. is “bittersweet,” Taylor said. On one hand, the business can grow in a space that’s being built out specifically to Loba’s needs and can retain its foothold in the neighborhood. But it also means saying goodbye to the community for the next several weeks while trying to financially support the move and finish construction.

“It’s a clean slate,” Taylor said. “It’s an empty space that used to be a dry cleaners, so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make it kitchen-safe.”

Taylor is eyeing mid-September to relaunch Loba on Addison Street but the transition has been a challenge. She was denied three times for loans she expected her five-year-old business would have been eligible for.

“I’ve been paying double rent since June for these two spaces, and I really thought that it would be easy to get a loan because I’ve been a successful business for five years now and made it this far through the pandemic,” Taylor said. “But I just got denied for the third time for this loan, and I’m incredibly frustrated.”

Financial institutions have been looking at 2020 cash flow when approving loans, but Loba’s revenue was down that year due to the pandemic, Taylor said. She’s also been told her business is “too small” to receive the financial aid.

“There are so many factors working against me, so even though I have pretty good credit, I’m still a risky candidate for a loan because of my background and who I am,” Taylor said.

To support the moving costs — and continue paying her employees until the cafe reopens — Taylor launched a GoFundMe to raise at least $25,000. As of Thursday, more than $16,000 had been raised.

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Loba Pastry + Cafe closed its old storefront at 3422 N. Lincoln Ave. on Wednesday.

Taylor moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to Florida in 2004, then came to Chicago in 2010 when she started interning as a pasty chef at a local restaurant.

“It was my dream job, but I had to quit because it did not pay enough for me to survive,” Taylor said.

She tried working a 9-to-5 job in the suburbs for a while, but quickly realized she hated office work and wanted to get back into the pastry business.

That’s when she started volunteering her weekends at Bad Wolf, the cafe that existed in Loba’s location before Taylor took over in 2015.

“I walked into the store working for free and then walked out with the business. That’s what the old owner said to me,” Taylor said. “I didn’t intend to eventually take over, but that’s what happened.”

Since then, Loba has become an anchor in the Lakeview community, which is why it was important for Taylor to find a new home for the cafe still in the neighborhood. Taylor said she’s built a strong bond with her customers and seen many of them start families, eventually bringing their children into the cafe.

“It broke my heart when I said I wouldn’t renew this lease, because I didn’t think I would go on if I couldn’t find a place in the neighborhood,” Taylor said. “But I’m very excited I found a place nearby and to start this new chapter in my dream kitchen where there’s more room to grow.”

Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Loba Pastry + Cafe’s new location at 1800 W. Addison will open in September at the earliest.

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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