WICKER PARK — When Dash Patel was forced to shutter a tiny concession he'd been renting inside the Damen Blue Line "L" Stop, the future of the space was unknown — save for the fact the CTA was on the hunt for higher-paying tenants and longer term leases.
Enter Darko Arandjelovic.
Arandjelovic, 36, the owner of Division Street's Caffe Streets, will be expanding his reach to the Damen and California Blue Line "L" stops with a new venture called "Cafe Transit."
Cafe Transit signed a 10-year-lease through 2023 for an 80 square-foot space inside the Damen "L " at 1558 N. Damen Ave. in Wicker Park and a 199 square-foot space inside the California Blue Line "L" Stop at 2211 N. California Ave. in Logan Square, the CTA announced Wednesday.
Cafe Transit is a joint venture run by Arandjelovic and partners Brent Norsman, an architect and owner of Copenhagen Cycles, and Kevin Heisner.
"The CTA liked the idea we were all local [and] already own businesses in Wicker Park," Arandjelovic said.
Another local business owner, Tim Gillengerten — owner of Transit Tees, which specializes in CTA-themed shirts and messenger bags — will be doing the branding for the new cafe, Arandjelovic said.
"We are excited. It is super awesome because it combines all of our talents," Arandjelovic said of the partnership.
Calling the Damen space "an 80 square-feet challenge," Arandjelovic said he hopes Cafe Transit can be open by the summer. One thing that needs to be worked out, though, is figuring out how to fit the equipment needed to serve coffee and food to commuters.
The coffee served at Cafe Transit will come from Metric Coffee Roasters, a nascent separate venture in the works between Arandjelovic and a private partner.
Metric Coffee Roasters will be a "fully new wholesale coffee roasting company " that will roast coffee beans locally, using a refurbished 1961 roaster from Germany, Arandjelovic said.
In addition to Cafe Transit's two coming locations, the CTA announced two other concession contracts Wednesday: Dunkin Donuts will open at the Kimball Brown Line stop and The Bageler and His Wife will open up shop at the Belmont Blue Line stop.
All three Blue Line leases are 10 years in length, through 2023, while the Kimball location is a 15-year lease, ending 2028.
The CTA estimates $825,000 in revenue from the initial term of all four leases.