Javier Haro, owner of the Little Village-based culinary school Food He.ro, opened a cafe upstairs of the school. Credit: Provided

LITTLE VILLAGE — Southwest Side neighbors have a new place to grab coffee and pastries, work remotely and meet up with friends.

Javier Haro opened 26th Street Cafe, 3331 W. 26th St., last week. It’s located on the second floor of Haro’s culinary school and food incubator Food He.ro, which he opened last year.

Haro said he was able to open the coffee shop with a grant from the city. He was awarded the $400,000 grant through the Early-Stage Food Incubator program within the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The grant is intended to “help expand, enhance and restore the food industry using an equity and community-based approach,” according to the city. The program focuses on food incubators working in areas facing “the greatest food insecurity and those with emerging food corridors.”

RELATED: Little Village Native Opening Food He.ro Culinary School And Food Incubator In The Neighborhood

26th Street Cafe serves as an extension of Haro’s food incubator program, where local entrepreneurs can get support for their burgeoning culinary businesses, he said. He’ll be able to meet with business owners in the space and offer them a venue in which to test their concept through pop-up events.

“When you come here, we’ll have coaches or food consultants that can help you flesh out that idea you have or help answer some questions to provide resources, how you can take that business to another level,” Haro said.

Most of the food sold in the cafe is made on-site from current or past Food He.ro students, Haro said. Everything else is sourced from local entrepreneurs, he said.

A Little Village native, Haro said he realized a couple months ago the second floor of his culinary school was being “under-utilized,” so he set out to find a way to make it more functional. That’s when he came across the food incubator grant that made the cafe possible, Haro said.

“When you look at the landscape here in Little Village, we don’t have cafes or coffee shops, so I always had that in the back of my mind,” he said.

26th Street Cafe is open to the public 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

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