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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Carnitas Uruapan Opening Little Village Restaurant, Sputnik Coffee Launching Flagship Cafe Thanks To City Grant

Another grantee, Esperanza Health, is using its $4.2 million grant to build a sprawling neighborhood health campus in Brighton Park.

Carnitas Uruapan and Sputnik Coffee are two Southwest Side businesses planning to use their community development grant to rehab old buildings into new businesses.
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SOUTHWEST SIDE — A Pilsen restaurant, a Brighton Park health center and a Back of the Yards coffeehouse and roastery are among Southwest Side institutions getting city grants.

Twenty-six businesses and nonprofits got grants of up to $7.25 million from the city’s Community Development Grant program, officials announced Monday. In all, the city is providing the groups with $33.5 million.

A grant of $1,184,300 is going to Carnitas Uruapan, a beloved Pilsen restaurant. The money will be used to open a spot in Little Village inside the old La Concordia building at 3801 W. 26th St.

“It was unbelievable news to us,” owner Marcos Carbajal said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The La Concordia building at 3801 W. 26th St., in Little Village where Carnitas Uruapan looks to open its restaurant next year, as seen on Aug. 9, 2021.

Carbajal said he plans to maintain the 1920s art deco style of the building’s exterior, including the large sign, and possibly have a mural painted on the Hamlin Avenue side. He plans to open one side of the building to have an expansive sidewalk cafe he hopes will inspire other businesses in the corridor to do the same.

With such a large space, the top floors will be converted into six to eight multifamily units above the restaurant, Carbajal said.

Carbajal also received $250,000 for the project in last year’s round of Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grants.

Sputnik Coffee in Back of the Yards will use its $1.2 million grant to similarly revitalize an old building for its new flagship cafe a few blocks northwest in Brighton Park.

Co-owner Vova Kagan said he and his co-owner and brother, Greesha Kagan, applied for the grant to ease the financial burden of having to “gut rehab” a warehouse at 4743 S. Talman Ave.

“We either pay more to fix it than build from scratch, or you demo it,” he said. “This lets the community keep a landmark building.”

Vova Kagan said the space will house a commercial roastery, a large cafe and a conference room that neighborhood organizations or entrepreneurs can rent time to use.

“Our goal is to become a community hub,” he said.

Credit: Chicago Department of Planning and Development
The new community health campus is coming to 4720 S. California Ave. in Brighton Park.

Esperanza Health is receiving the third-largest grant out of the 26 awardees.

The $4.2 million it’s receiving will go toward building “a 43,000-square-foot neighborhood health campus with medical and behavioral health services, senior programming, a family medicine residency program with Rush University and indoor and outdoor spaces for health, learning and recreation” at 4720 S. California Ave. in Brighton Park.

“This is the single-largest award we have ever received for a capital project at Esperanza,” Heidi Ortolaza-Alvear, vice president of strategy and business development, said in a statement Tuesday. “This funding is going to ensure that Esperanza can finally move forward with this project and deliver a transformational health hub for lower-income residents of Chicago’s Southwest side.”

The project is expected to break ground in October and open in 2023 to serve an additional 23,000 patients a year and offer more than 80,000 patient visits, according to Esperanza leaders.

The other projects on the Southwest Side receiving funding:

  • 5 Rabbit Cervecería, 1901 S. Sangamon St. in Pilsen: $250,000 to “open a small-batch brewery and full-service restaurant that will celebrate Latin culture and cuisine,” according to the city.
  • Back of the Yards Algae Sciences Food Facility, 1400 W. 46th St.: $250,000 “to produce vegan dairy products and plant-based meat using innovative ingredients.”
  • Blue Tin Productions, 3055 W. 63rd St. in Chicago Lawn: $1.75 million to “construct an apparel-manufacturing cooperative run by immigrant, refugee, and women of color workers with a co-working space and community room on the first floor.”
  • PODER Learning Center, 3357 W. 55th St. in Gage Park: $2.75 million to “create an immigrant integration and job training center with English and workforce development and a community plaza.”

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