EDGEWATER — The owner of Pizzeria Aroma said he's taking over a nearby cafe with plans to turn it into a coffee shop, and he said he might open a bagel bakery next door to it sometime next year.
Pizzeria Aroma owner Jim Dababneh announced Friday in a post on his pizzeria's Facebook page that he had acquired Coffee Chicago, 5256 N. Broadway, with plans to transform it into Chicago Grind.
He told DNAinfo over the weekend that his plan is to renovate the coffee shop sometime between now and the end of June, when he aims for Chicago Grind to open. The cafe will sell coffee and tea drinks, sandwiches, bagels, salads, smoothies, pastries and more.
Dababneh said he'll be running Chicago Grind alongside his wife of 13 years, Reem Dababneh.
Coffee Chicago will continue to operate as normal until the makeover begins in coming weeks, according to Dababneh.
But he's not just stopping with Chicago Grind.
He's also leased a small commercial space adjoining Coffee Chicago and said he's considering putting a retail and wholesale bagel bakery there in 2015. Dababneh is also awaiting word from Weiss Memorial Hospital in Uptown about his bid to open a coffee kiosk and snack bar in the hospital lobby.
He anticipates new stress and pressures will accompany his new ventures, but said he's eager for the challenge, which he sees as an opportunity to prove himself "hero or zero ... champ or chump."
Pizzeria Aroma opened in 1999. Dababneh, who has a background in radio journalism and corporate sales, bought it in 2002 with help from a father who put his house up as collateral for a loan — to help a son who lacked a day's experience in the restaurant industry.
It's an unpretentious neighborhood favorite, known for good pizza, an expansive selection of pasta, reasonable prices and engaging customer service spearheaded by Dababneh. He can be found there on a typical day taking calls and orders or serving customers.
Dababneh has two sons, ages 6 and 9. They're the reasons he's waited so long to open a second business, he said.
The 38-year-old father wanted to spend as much time as possible with them in their early years.
But "this is the time to build for their future" he said, rather than "take it easy and play more golf."
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