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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Family-Run Coffeehouse Opening This Month On Pilsen’s 18th Street: ‘This Is Home’

Mother-and-son duo Gaby Franco and Jose Franco Jr. are expanding their Garfield Ridge coffeeshop business to Pilsen, the family's home neighborhood.

Gaby Franco and Jose Franco Jr., the mother-and-son duo behind A Cup of Joe Coffeehouse, outside the Pilsen location at 1307 W. 18th St. March 31, 2023.
Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — A new coffeehouse is coming to Pilsen’s 18th Street business corridor.

A Cup of Joe Coffeehouse, run by mother-and-son Gaby Franco and Jose Franco Jr., is opening sometime this month at 1307 W. 18th St.

The 18th Street location is the second A Cup of Joe outpost. The Francos opened their first store in 2019 at 6806 W. Archer Ave. in Garfield Ridge.

The two said navigating the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns taught them a lot as business owners. When the opportunity came up to expand A Cup of Joe, opening in Pilsen seemed like a natural fit, they said.

Both are Pilsen natives and said having a business on the neighborhood’s iconic and bustling 18th Street is overwhelming.

“I grew up across the street from this shop, I used to do my laundry in this shop,” Gaby Franco said. “This is home, literally.”

The coffeehouse serves a variety of drinks, including coffee roasted and provided by Intelligentsia. They also offer in-house made café de olla and horchata, and specialty drinks like a red velvet latte or a mazapan latte — made with the sweet, peanut butter-flavored Mexican candy.

Customers can expect a similar lineup of sandwiches and dishes at the Pilsen location, as well as pastries from popular shops Jennivee’s Bakery in Lakeview and pHlour Bakery in Edgewater.

The Pilsen location is a bit smaller than A Cup of Joe in Garfield Ridge, but the owners said there will still be some indoor seating with enough room to eventually host open mic nights and display art.

Since announcing the Pilsen opening, the owners said they’ve gotten really positive feedback from friends, family and the community.

“It’s been really welcoming already, the amount of support that we’ve gotten,” Gaby Franco said. “We’re always trying to cultivate culture, and you know, we just want to make sure that people know that we take pride in what we’re putting out.”

Jose Franco Sr. — Gaby Franco’s husband and Jose Franco Jr.’s dad who handles the coffeehouse’s marketing and social media — said the significance of opening a family-run business in Pilsen against the landscape of gentrification shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I think it’s awesome to be able to be originally from the community and to have a Brown-owned business opening,” Jose Franco Sr. said. “Change is good, I welcome change, but to be able to come back home and say, ‘You know what? We’re from here.’ And now, we have our roots planted further and deeper.”

Gaby Franco also said she hopes the coffeehouse can show kids growing up in Pilsen that people who went to the same neighborhood schools as them and persevered through similar challenges can be business owners.

“We understand the community and the culture — you know, we’re ‘old’ Pilsen,” she said.

Follow their social media accounts for more about A Cup of Joe’s opening date and hours.

Anyone interested in hearing about job opportunities can reach out via email.

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