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Capital One Cafe Banking On Neighbors' Advice For Lakeview, Lincoln Park

By Ariel Cheung | July 20, 2016 6:28am
 Capital One Cafes will expand to the Southport Corridor and the New City development.
Capital One Cafes Coming To Lakeview, Lincoln Park
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LAKEVIEW — Savvy employees who work remotely know that the best coffee shops are those with electrical outlets aplenty.

Chicago's Capital One Cafe has more than a dozen.

The Gold Coast bank-cafe hybrid, 21 E. Chestnut St., has been around since 2007 under the ING Direct brand. Capital One bought it out in 2013 and rebranded the handful of cafes nationwide.

Aside from Boston, Capital One has refrained from opening more than one cafe per city. But over the next six months, the bank will expand to two additional cafes in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, adding a tasty option for non-traditional bankers on the North Side.

Lincoln Park's Capital One Cafe will open on the first floor of the New City complex underneath Dick's Sporting Goods. The Southport Corridor will get a cafe at 3435 N. Southport Ave., replacing Aveda Salon and Newport Bar and Grill, which closed Sunday.

Indira Aveda Salon and Spa is moving down the street to the former TG Nail Salon, 3337 N. Southport Ave., spa employee Brigette Mire said. The salon will expand to two floors and will have a full service nail bar and a spa, she said.

"It's huge and beautiful," Mire said of the new salon. Still, "if we didn't have to move, we wouldn't have."

The Capital One Cafe in Gold Coast has a conference room, lounge and a seating section for busy coffee-drinkers. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

The Capital One Cafes are open to everyone, even those without a Capital One banking account. Employees will discuss banking options, but only if customers ask about them, said Antonio Wilson, who oversees operations at the Gold Coast cafe.

"We're reactive to what the customers want," he said. "If the customer wants to have a conversation about our financial products, we have that conversation on their terms."

The openness is in line with Capital One's banking philosophy, spokesman Mike Friedman said. The bank similarly offers services like the CreditWise credit score tracker and smartphone budgeting app LevelMoney.

There aren't any bank tellers at the cafes, but two "smart ATMs" have some expanded capabilities, Wilson said. While anyone can spend time in the cafe, those who pay with Capital One cards get half off coffee.

Capital One Cafes organize workshops and activities for customers, although no one has to have a Capital One account to use the cafe's services. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

As with all the cafes, Peet's Coffee will supply the java, while baked goods will come from local suppliers.

Capital One will have some stiff competition in neighborhoods with scores of coffee options. In Lakeview, for example, nearby cafes include Julius Meinl, Southport Grocery and Cafe, Starbucks, Cafe Tola and Two-Hearted Queen.

As in Boston, each Chicago cafe will draw from its neighborhood's character for the interior design, Wilson said. They will also have communities meeting rooms, which will be available to nonprofit organizations for free and can hold about a dozen people.

Each Capital One Cafe will be modeled with the character of its neighborhood in mind. The Gold Coast location, pictured above, has been open since 2007. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

"So much of what we want to be is authentic to the neighborhood," spokeswoman Laura DiLello said. "In Boston, we wanted to be part of the fabric of the different neighborhoods." As a result, the Capital One Cafe in Back Bay is far different from the one in Harvard Square.

While construction dates haven't been set, Capital One has started applying for permits and expects to open the Lincoln Park shop by the end of 2016. The Lakeview cafe should open in early 2017, Wilson said.

That should give the company enough time to work with neighbors and community leaders to design cafes that fit their well-defined neighborhoods, Friedman said.

"It would be very pretentious of us to say we're going to XYZ neighborhood, and that neighborhood needs to adapt to our way of doing things," he said. "We take a very humble approach. We want to know who we should be meeting with, so the cafe can take on the personality of the people who live there."

Getting to know them well enough to offer banking options suited to their needs is just the icing on the cake, Friedman said.

"Nobody here is motivated by a sales quota," he said. "There's no catch."

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