CHATHAM — The owners of Flecks Coffee are busy preparing for its official grand opening this weekend even though the cafe has been serving customers since last month.
The three-day event runs Friday through Sunday. A VIP reception will be held from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, when a "coffee tasting" of several brands will be held.
Normal hours for the cafe, 343 E. 79th St., are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Credit cards are accepted and prices for coffee and espressos range from $1.80 for a small to $3.25 for a large. Iced drinks and smoothies are also sold.
Flecks Coffee so far has been well received by the community, according to Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association.
"A cafe in Chatham was in great demand," Kelly said. "One thing I like about the place is that it offers free Wi-Fi and the owners were willing to work with [the association] from day one."
Zuli Turner, who owns the cafe with her mother, Olga Turner, said besides free Wi-Fi the establishment also offers a relaxed and quiet atmosphere for customers while they enjoy high-end coffee and healthy sandwiches.
"I do not consider McDonald's or Starbucks competitors because we serve different items," Zuli said. "There's more here than coffee and pastries. We also sell salads and breakfast items like waffles."
There are two McDonald's and one Starbucks in Chatham.
The idea to open the cafe came after Olga Turner attended an entrepreneur training program last year in Portland, Ore., Zuli Turner said.
"It was a week of intense training for potential coffee shop owners where you learned the best ways to pour coffee and taste coffee," Zuli Turner said. "The name Flecks came from that training because it means 'premier' and that is the type of business we run."
Zuli Turner, who is single and lives in Hyde Park, is originally from New York but moved to Chicago in 2000 to accept a job as a financial analyst for a fortune 500 company.
Five blocks away from Flecks Coffee at 520 E. 79th St. is Young Achievers Academy Inc., a daycare center owned by the Turners.
Customers visiting Flecks Coffee for the first time Wednesday said they planned to return often.
"The coffee was excellent and the triple chocolate muffin was good, too, although I am used to my muffins being a little more moist," said Wendell Ewing, 70.
"I live in Hyde Park but come to Chatham a lot, and I was driving past when I saw this place. It looked like a clean place to grab a cup of coffee, so I pulled over to check it out and I'm glad I did. Their customer service is top shelf."
Asjhra Harper, 25, is a graduate student at DePaul University and lives in Chatham.
"This is actually my second time coming here. I brought my laptop with me this time to do some work while I eat," Harper said. "As you can see, I had a salad and it's is all gone. I can really get used to this place."
An older crowd is why Brian Ray, 54, said he planned to become a regular customer.
"There's a more older folks and an educated crowd that comes here. I can't stand when all those teenagers come inside McDonald's [next door] making all that noise," Ray said. "I don't have to worry about that here."
Joi Thigpen, 27, said she preferred to shop in her own neighborhood, especially at black-owned businesses.
"I live up the street so I have to come this way anyway. Might as well do business here, too," said Thigpen, who works at a Chicago food processing company. "I have lived in Chatham my whole life. I graduated from Martha Ruggles Elementary [across the street], and I get my hair and nails done down the street at the beauty shop. What can I say? I am a home girl."