PORTAGE PARK — Regulus Coffee House Co. is trying to reopen its cafe in the Irving-Austin Business District — and is asking coffee lovers to help.
Regulus owner Brent Bogseth said he had no choice but to close up shop at 6032 W. Irving Park Road in December after an unsuccessful holiday season followed a slow summer and fall.
"We had to prioritize, regroup and explore what's what," Bogseth said, a task made more urgent by the Feb. 19 birth of Bogseth's son, Gage.
Regulus, beloved by many Portage Park residents for its laid-back vibe in a neighborhood with few hip spots, continued to sell its roasted coffee online and at community events and maintained an active presence on Facebook — often fielding pleas to reopen from former patrons.
"It's supposed to be challenging — that is what makes it fun," Bogseth said.
To get the lights back on and coffee brewing again, Regulus will host a fundraiser April 5 at the Patio Theater featuring bands, burlesque and object manipulation, such as juggling. In addition to plenty of coffee, beer from Portage Park's Lake Effect Brewing will be on tap.
"We hope to have our ideas come to life and showcase what's in store for the future of Regulus Coffee House Co.," Bogseth said.
Bogseth has also set up an online fundraising page with a goal of $7,500.
"Every dollar will help with the upgrades we would like to see done to Regulus Coffee House Co.," Bogseth said.
A second chance at life for Regulus will mean more life — and jobs — for the area around Austin Avenue and Irving Park Road, Bogseth said, adding that he is still leasing the cafe's original location.
A reopened Regulus would not offer as large of a food menu as it once did, Bogseth said.
"We will continue to do what we did and embrace to the fullest our love of community, concocting coffee and the local art scene," Bogseth said.
Along with Joe and Melissa Basilone, the owners of Thrift & Thrive, and Demetri Kouvalis, the owner of the Patio Theater, Bogseth founded the Irving-Austin Business District in an effort to bring new life to the far western edge of Portage Park.
That effort has been complicated by the string of setbacks suffered by the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, including a broken air-conditioning system last summer, a faulty heating system this winter as well as water damage caused by the harsh winter.
"All we know is that entertainment foot traffic just about halted," Bogseth said of the problems at the Patio.
Tickets for the fundraiser are $15, or $25 for artisans who want to set up a table of their work to sell. Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the first act starting at 7 p.m. and entertainment ending at 1 a.m.