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Edgewater’s Mama K’s Cafe Closes, Leaving Another Vacancy On A Struggling Bryn Mawr Avenue

Mama K's Cafe opened in 2019, taking over the Zanzibar spot that had been on Bryn Mawr Avenue for more than a decade. It's the third popular business in the historic district to shutter in less than a year.

Mama K's Cafe, 1036 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., closed permanently Jan. 24.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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EDGEWATER — Mama K’s Cafe has closed on Bryn Mawr Avenue, making it the third popular business in the historic district to shutter in less than a year.

The cafe at 1036 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. closed for good on Monday, according to a note in the store’s window. Mama K’s closure ends a 13-year run of having a cafe in the corner storefront at Bryn Mawr and Kenmore avenues and is another loss for an ailing commercial district.

Mama K’s opened in 2019 when owners Mahir and Haris Krijestorac took over the shop that housed Zanzibar. The brothers worked at Zanzibar, which had an 11-year run on Bryn Mawr Avenue and closed in early summer 2019.

Like Zanzibar, Mama K’s was a neighborhood cafe serving coffee, traditional European pastries, brunch items and ice cream. The business was named for a member of the owners’ family who had 20 years of catering experience under her belt.

“We would like to thank you for your loyalty and support,” a note in Mama K’s front window reads. The business owners could not be reached for comment this week.

Mama K’s is just the latest closure to hit the Bryn Mawr Historic District.

Just across the street from Mama K’s, Italian dinner spot Francesca’s closed earlier this month after 21 years. The local chain restaurant was credited with help revive the Bryn Mawr historic district when it opened in 2000.

Zanzibar Cafe (pictured) closed in 2019, but former workers at the cafe reopened the spot as Mama K’s that same year.

Nookies closed its popular brunch location on Bryn Mawr in early 2021 after 11 years in the neighborhood. The owners of neighboring pHlour planned to open a restaurant in the Nookies space, but the concept never got off the ground.

In early December, Starbucks confirmed the temporary closure of its cafe at 1070 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. The coffee shop will reopen next month, according to Ald. Harry Oterman (48th).

Osterman has opened a new ward office at 1040 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. in an effort to help revitalize the commercial district. The office is working with the chamber to attract businesses to the area and a community meeting on the topic will be held, Osterman said in an email to constituents.

The closures have come while the CTA is undergoing a massive rebuild of the Red Line on the Far North Side, a project that is disrupted businesses near the rail corridor.

A revitalized Red Line will have positive benefits on the local economy, but work needs to be done now to help the Bryn Mawr commercial district, Osterman said.

“Bryn Mawr is the center of our Edgewater community and a strong, revitalized Bryn Mawr business corridor has a positive impact on our whole community,” he said in the email.

“I am confident that when the new Bryn Mawr CTA station opens, it will have a transformative effect on the business corridor. But the important revitalization work building towards that day needs to start now.”

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