ROGERS PARK — Sol Cafe, a Far North Side coffee shop that sought to end a “cafe desert” on Howard Street, is closing this weekend.
Sol Cafe, 1615 W. Howard St., will close Sunday after more than 10 years in operation, co-founder Mars Terrazas confirmed.
The cafe has been a stalwart business in a Howard Street corridor that has been battered by the pandemic and issues of crime and violence. Sol Cafe also struggled with those issues, Terrazas said.
Sol Cafe suffered water damage in its storefront after record rainfall in early July. Before that, a shooting earlier this summer left a bullet hole in the large storefront windows that look out onto Howard Street, Terrazas said. In September, another shooting shattered three storefront windowpanes and caused interior damage.
The incidents happened after business hours. No one was hurt, but the close calls rattled the staff. Combined with the recent flood damage, it was enough to make the tough decision to close, Terrazas said.
“If it was earlier it could have been any one of us,” Terrazas said. “It was kind of terrifying to see where my staff and I would stand [in the cafe] and see a bullet hole … it was just, can we continue to do this?”
A GoFundMe has been launched to help the employees who are losing their jobs.
Sol Cafe was opened in December 2012 by Simone Freeman, a Chicago native who ran a popular Washington D.C. coffee stand while in college. In opening on Howard Street, Freeman told DNAinfo Chicago she wanted to help fill a need in a “cafe desert.”
The business grew in popularity and developed a following among Rogers Park neighbors. In November 2022, Freeman sold the cafe to Terrazas and their husband, who were employees of the shop.
The couple helped the business bounce back from the pandemic and recently expanded its hours to provide dinner service at the neighboring Howard Street Brewing Company.
Terrazas was a customer before becoming an employee and later an owner. Like many neighbors, they know the benefit Sol Cafe brought to the North of Howard area, making the decision to close especially difficult, Terrazas said.
“It’s sad to not be able to employ our friends anymore,” Terrazas said. “To see this space we kept for the community but also for ourselves, for the community to have a place to go, it’s a bummer to say the least.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve the community,” Terrazas said.
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