The owner behind McKinley Park's Consume Vintage, 3452 S. Western Ave., is opening a cafe in the building nextdoor. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
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MCKINLEY PARK — For Andrés Merlos, being a small business owner runs in the family. His parents used to own restaurants, and his father still runs an antique restoration business. 

Now, a couple years after opening a vintage clothing shop, Merlos plans to open a coffee shop in the building next door. 

Cafe Consume, 3452 S. Western Ave., will open in early 2024, Merlos said. It’s been a work in progress ever since he bought the building during the pandemic. 

Merlos and his father are doing a lot of the renovations themselves, he said. They’re trying to give the space a classic vibe, with stools from the ’60s Merlos picked up in Michigan, a handcrafted wooden bar and an open view into the kitchen. His espresso machine was passed down from his parents’ old restaurant. 

“Everything’s been built by us,” he said.

Merlos plans to turn the empty space next door into an outdoor seating area where bands can play live music, he said. 

“Just a place to chill, listen to the music and kind of take yourself out of Western [Avenue] and everything that goes on,” he said. 

The owner behind McKinley Park’s Consume Vintage, 3452 S. Western Ave., is opening a cafe in the building nextdoor. Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago

Merlos opened Consume Vintage in late 2019. The McKinley Park resident said he’s been into selling vintage clothes since college. 

“I would meet people up at the library to sell dope clothes. That was my thing,” he said. 

Merlos and his mother love “the hunt” — checking out flea markets and estate sales for good pieces. 

“I think everybody has a different eye when it comes to vintage, and what we try to curate is nostalgia, a love for authenticity,” he said. “Like, if you grew up loving classic rock that your dad put you on to, a vintage rock band T-shirt will remind you of that time hanging out with your father. That’s what we sell.”

While Merlos finishes up work at the cafe over the next several months, he’s getting ready for the holiday shopping season at the vintage shop, he said. 

Consume Vintage is open noon-7 p.m. Friday-Tuesday.

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