UPTOWN — Just days before Starbucks plans to close on Wilson Avenue, a growing local coffee chain is announcing plans to open about two blocks north.
Bow Truss Coffee Roasters founder Philip Tadros said he plans to open a shop in "about three to four months" at 4756 N. Clark St.
"It's a big corner with not really much around," said Tadros adding he sees the corner as a future "hub" for the neighborhood. "Bow Truss is excited to bring community to this intersection."
The location was previously a shoe store, which moved a few blocks west on Lawrence Avenue a few months ago. The building is in the middle of a significant rehab, according to Uptown Update.
Tadros, 36, has eight Bow Truss coffee shops in Chicago, and the brand is considered one of the biggest indie coffee chains in the city. But in 2005 he was only beginning to build his java empire with the opening of Dollop Coffee nearby at 4181 N. Clarendon Ave.
Tadros lived above the shop for five years before selling it to focus on Doejo, his marketing company, which is responsible for helping launch over 500 startups and holds a majority stake in Bow Truss.
When he saw Dollop's new owners growing the business, Tadros said he decided to get back into coffee. He opened his first Bow Truss in 2012 after launching Noble Tree, Kickstand, and State Farm's Next Door cafes. Two years later he raised $300,000 in a week online for a new Bow Truss roasting facility.
Tadros, who dropped out of Columbia College Chicago at the age of 19 while studying marketing and advertisement, said he was excited to return to the neighborhood for this venture and was planning more.
"We are actually negotiating two leases near Dollop right now," he said.
Tadros said he was not concerned about competition with Dollop because the cafe chain is a different concept than Bow Truss.
"We are roasters, and we take sourcing and preparing very seriously. The original Dollop, I love, but it's a different business. They resell a commercially affordable Metropolis brand and make sandwiches," he said. "It's a different business model that happens to also sell coffee."
Tadros has been tight-lipped about recent fundraising to grow the Bow Truss brand, but said that many of his biggest investors are real estate developers who want a Bow Truss in their building — which explains why so many Bow Truss coffee shops are arriving with changes to their surrounding neighborhoods.
"I love having real estate developers as partners and investors because they really understand all that goes into building something great, and it helps with a retail-focused expansion" he said. "It just makes sense we work together."
By the end of the year, Bow Truss plans to double its number of cafes across the city, Tadros said. Some have taken the aggressive expansion plans as a sign that Bow Truss will be a "gentrifier" in developing neighborhoods, for which the brand has faced pushback.
While some Pilsen residents stamped a new Bow Truss in their neighborhood with signs condemning the brand, saying "This Is What Gentrification Looks Like," Tadros said most communities have been welcoming.
"Everything's changing. It's OK to change," Tadros said earlier this week. "I don't want to be a part of displacing anybody. That's dramatic, and I wouldn't want that ever. But everything's in motion. We're alive, you know?"
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