PILSEN — It’s been nearly two decades for Café Jumping Bean and owner Eleazar Delgado said his only regret is not collecting all the artsy T-Shirts the café has made over the years.
“I’d beat them [T-shirts] up so badly, I’d end up donating them to the Salvation Army,” he said laughing.
Delgado, 44, was just 26 when he first opened the café at 1439 W. 18th St. At that time, in an area dominated by tacos, he said he felt compelled to open a coffee place with sandwiches.
“My thing is, I grew up on sandwiches," he said. “So I said, we’re gonna offer something you can’t get in this neighborhood. People thought I was crazy.”
When he first opened shop, Delgado was both owner and solo employee.
Now he has 14 employees, six of which work full time.
“It’s your 19th birthday! All you guys are turning 19,” a woman calls out to Delgado and his staff behind the counter.
That woman is Esmirna Garcia, 29, who has been coming to Café Jumping Bean since she was a high school freshman at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
Garcia, a Pilsen resident, said she figures she’s in the café almost every day of the week.
“Everyone knows you by your name,” she said. “And they know, no matter what I order, I will always ask for a jalapeno on the side.”
Art dots the walls of the café, which rotates different local artists every five weeks. Artist Guillermo Delgado, Delgado’s brother, painted the tops of the café’s 10 tables and also designed the T-shirts worn by employees.
Café Jumping Bean’s sandwiches are piled high with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. Most of the veggies come from the International Produce Market at 2404 S. Wolcott in Pilsen.
In addition to sandwiches, the café also serves salads, pizza on house-made focaccia bread, and liquados, milkshake-like treats that come in banana, strawberry, mango or chocolate.
Happy to make it to 19 years, Delgado said he’s looking forward to the café’s 20th anniversary next year.
“Luckily I’ve been able to say it’s been good every year. It’s been a good ride,” he said.