MCKINLEY PARK — As workers hustled to install speakers and other finishing touches before the Jazzy Bean Cafe's debut, owner Elena Olivos exuded optimism.
In fact, she stood in the cafe's "positive corner," peppered with signs bearing inspirational quotes and quips, while explaining her vision for the space at 2022 W. 35th St. The 32-year-old McKinley Park native wants to see it bustling with families and students, jazz trios and java lovers.
"We don't have that many prominent locations that show what this area is all about," Olivos said. "I want to keep it like the neighborhood is. Just come in and be part of the family."
The cafe's grand opening is slated for 6-9 p.m. Thursday.
Technically, it's a grand reopening. Olivos took over the La Cocina de Nana Mema's in 2010, rebranding the space the Jazzy Bean, but keeping La Cocina's recipes. That effort sputtered, and Olivos decided to close shop for about a year.
On Thursday, Jazzy Bean makes its comeback with mural-covered walls, free WiFi, plush seats and an overhauled menu filled with Mexican and American breakfast favorites, from steak and eggs to chilaquiles.
The cafe's lunch menu features tortas, tingas, tacos, burritos, deli sandwiches, burgers and homemade soups. On weekends, the kitchen will crank out homemade tamales and pozole and menudo soups, available in sizes up to a half-gallon.
Many of the dishes are named with nod to the neighborhood. There's the Ninth District, McKinley and 35th Street deli sandwiches, the Ventura cheeseburger and the Cellular Field of Greens. Also new is the cafe's liquor license, which means patrons can now choose beer, wine and coffee liqueur drinks in addition to sipping espresso and lattes.
As Olivos surveyed the kitchen, where the smell of sauteed onions and chipotle pepper permeated, she said she's hoping to create a space where patrons can linger for longer. The cafe will be a chance, she said, to unite the McKinley Park neighborhood where she's lived her whole life.
"I had the option to buy a house or buy this. I chose this," she said. "I'd be a failure if I didn't try."
Beginning Nov. 1, The Jazzy Bean will be open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.