WICKER PARK — Ready or not, Red E Coffee is open.
The newest player in the neighborhood's crowded java scene plans to open at 10 a.m. Thursday for a "soft opening," co-owner Adam Banks said.
Located less than one block south of the bustling Milwaukee, Damen and North intersection at 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave., Red E will be offering free coffee through 7 p.m. Thursday.
In a news release, Banks said, “We are so happy to have our health inspections done! We are ready to get our doors open, we have spent so much time building out the store and perfecting our blends and roasts."
Located in the former space of the short-lived BuckWick Organix, Red E Coffee can seat about 40 people at tables and a counter and features eclectic art like a motorcycle made out of straw, and Art-0-Mat machines that will sell small pieces of art for $5.
An art gallery component of the cafe is expected to open in about three weeks, with Banks and co-owner John Grbac on the hunt for local artists interested in displaying their works.
For Red E's opening weekend, house blend coffee will be free Thursday and $1 (the "buck cup"), through the weekend, while coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos are priced at $3, with pour-overs beginning at $2.50.
The coffee is roasted locally by Greg Stivers, who has a roasting company on the city's West Side, Banks said.
"We are trying to be a high quality value cup of coffee. Starbucks is easily $5 and we are a dollar or two cheaper on most of our drinks. Our business model is like Trader Joe's — high quality, save some money," Banks said.
In addition to coffee, the shop will feature a rotating selection of pastries and sandwiches from Delightful Pastries.
Red E Coffee Shop, 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave. After its soft opening Thursday, hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Ph: 773-698-8218. For updates, visit its Facebook page or follow Red E on Twitter @red_e-coffee.