LAKEVIEW — Don't look for a chair in Bad Wolf Coffee — but feel free to chat with the barista.
Lakeview's newest indie coffee place opened last week, and owner Jonathan Ory wanted to make sure the shop didn't fall into a routine of people plopping down with laptops.
Solution: No chairs. That way, visitors stand and are more likely to engage with him and each other, Ory said.
Ory and a friend even custom built a standing table in hopes of encouraging a social environment.
"I see people hunched over computers, just using the WiFi," he said. "It's depressing to me. I'd much rather have a lively environment. If someone’s here, I’d like to engage, talk about music, art, the Bears, the Blackhawks — anything."
And Ory has a colorful background lot to talk about. The 31-year-old — and long-time "Dr. Who" fan — previously was a chef at high-end restaurants like Wicker Park's Schwa and New York's Momofuku Ko. Before that, he's worked at a Korean restaurant, a Filipino restaurant, a sushi place. Before all that, he was employed at an indie record store.
For years, he's worked 18 hour days in the kitchen. With the birth of his son 16 months ago and a baby girl on the way, Ory wanted to venture out on his own to gain more flexibility.
Hence, Bad Wolf Coffee.
The shop at 3422 N. Lincoln Ave. is right near the Paulina Brown Line "L" stop. He currently runs it alone, starting at 3 a.m. to bake pastries and closing shop after the last commuters come home from work. He plans to eventually hire employees so that he can spend time with his kids.
He serves Counter Culture coffee, and the pastry selection can vary day-to-day. Most of the options right now are basic "rustic," homey goods like blueberry muffins, cheddar biscuits and tarte tatin.
Later on, Ory plans to introduce more personal, interesting flavors indicative of his experimental past. A simple kouign amann, a buttery croissant-like cake, may soon become a kouign amann with honey, chamomile and goat's butter flavors, he said.
As for the lack of chairs, Ory has suggestions: Bring your latte to the park, or order the four-ounce cortado, an espresso cut with warm milk — it leaves just enough time for a quick chat with the barista at the bar.
"I don’t think a coffee shop should be people just camping out and doing work," he said, "It’s more fun to be a social hub."