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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Urban Essentials Brings New Black-Owned Coffee Shop To Austin

Owner Robbie Wilkerson and his daughter, Destiny, said their West Side cafe aims to be a positive, healthy space in the community.

The interior of Urban Essentials Coffee Café, which soft launched earlier this summer.
Trey Arline/Block Club Chicago
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AUSTIN — A Black-, family-owned coffee shop has opened in Austin’s Soul City Corridor.

Urban Essentials Coffee Cafe, located at 5300 W. Chicago Ave., soft opened on Juneteenth and plans to host a grand opening the first week of August. It features cafe staples like coffee, cappuccinos, blended drinks and tea as well as cakes, muffins and food such as sandwiches and wraps.

Owner Robbie Wilkerson and his 22-year-old daughter, Destiny, said the cafe aims to bring something positive to the community and provide healthier options. The shop’s space was previously vacant for two years, and he hopes it encourages growth among other West Side businesses and brings people together with events like open mic nights.

“All these building vacancies to me says there’s not a lot of money circulating within the community,” Robbie Wilkerson said. “I’m one man, but it is my effort to create a new economic drive to our community. We hope we can inspire others to build, as well.”

Wilkerson and his daughter both grew up three blocks from the shop’s locations. He also works as the youth director for the Westside Health Authority, and hopes the coffee shop will create a legacy for his daughter, who is a student at College of DuPage and has worked as a server at Cooper’s Hawk. Destiny Wilkerson manages the cafe’s five employees.

The Wilkersons spent $65,000 to get Urban Essential up and running, they said. They got the idea to open the coffee shop in Austin after meeting with Malcom Crawford, executive director of the Austin African American Business Networking Association, and started building out the space in December.

Ahead of its grand opening, Destiny and Robbie Wilkerson will be working to upgrade lighting and make other improvements. Mayor Brandon Johnson and other city officials plan to attend the grand opening, Robbie Wilkerson said.

But the shop has already seen early success with a steady stream of customers from nearby nonprofits and their church community, they said.

“With any new business, you get nervous and you want it to go well,” Destiny Wilkerson said. “But it’s been going well and we’re excited to see it come together.”

The cafe is open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.

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