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Serving Work-At-Home Telecommuters is Goal of New Wicker Park Coffee Shop

By Alisa Hauser | February 25, 2014 8:56am
 Ready Coffee at 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave. has closed. A new tech-savy coffee shop concept from the same ownership will be coming soon.
Ready Coffee at 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave. has closed. A new tech-savy coffee shop concept from the same ownership will be coming soon.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — Less than eight months after opening, a Wicker Park coffee shop just south of the neighborhood's main hub has closed, but it plans to reopen in March with more comfortable seating, longer hours of operation and more events.

Ready Coffee at 1562 N. Milwaukee Ave. was closed as of Monday. The cafe plans to reopen in the second week of March with a new name, and "a very different concept," said Alyona Udartseva, a spokeswoman for the cafe.

"It will be more focused on building an inspiring environment for people that work from home," Udartseva said.

The cafe will also introduce a print center, where any patron can print up to three pages with the purchase of a coffee, Udartseva said.

Additionally, there will be white boards on the wall to attract study groups.

Popular events like $2 yoga, which attracts about 15 people on Saturdays, will be offered on Sundays, too. Udartseva said the cafe would host nightly board games where people could bring their own games or use games provided by the cafe.

The cafe will be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Ready Coffee was managed by John Grbac, a local resident, who will be involved with the rebranding efforts with Udartseva.

"The same group of people that opened it decided to close it down. The Ready Coffee entity is moving on, but we will be reopening, remodeling and rebranding," Grbac said Monday.

Grbac said he was going to bring in desks with built-in electrical outlets to court the work-from-home crowd and was considering the idea of desk rental.

Syed Azhar, a local businessman, partnered with Grbac and New York-based investor Adam Banks to create the Ready Coffee concept after BuckWick Organix grocer, a convenience store also owned by Azhar, closed.  

Buckwick Organix still had several years left on its 13-year lease when it closed in January 2013, which prompted Azhar to seek new partners and concepts for the storefront. Reached by phone, Banks said he sold his interest in the cafe to Azhar.

Azar said that the closure of Ready Coffee and decision to buy the rights to the cafe from Banks was "nobody's fault."

"This year is killing every business on Milwaukee [Avenue]. This is the worst weather in 35 years.  All businesses are affected," Azhar said.

To help diversify its menu offerings, Ready Cafe recently added crepes. When the new cafe opens, there will be salad bar, too.

The cafe's grand reopening is scheduled for the first week of April, Udartseva said.