WOODLAWN — Build Coffee is raising money to bring back a community-minded café to Experimental Station in Woodlawn.
In what is quickly becoming a tradition, several University of Chicago graduates are trying to open a coffee shop in the Woodlawn art and community center at 6100 S. Blackstone Ave.
Hannah Nyhart, a former editor at the South Side Weekly, said she and her collaborators are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise $12,000 and hope to open by October.
She said the idea for the coffee shop is similar to what she liked about the Weekly in that it filled a specific gap in the community discourse that in the past she said she would have looked to fill with a pitch for a long form piece of journalism.
“But instead I found a room that was surrounded by good and exciting work, and I didn't want it to stand empty when I thought we could build a big joyful thing there,” Nyhart said.
The former journalist will likely be in good company as Experimental Station becomes increasingly full of journalism projects like the Invisible Institute and City Bureau.
Build Coffee imagines the space full of books customers have brought in to trade for a cup of coffee and a space for community meetings or bands to play free concerts.
“Food-wise, we're definitely getting creative with that very basic kitchen,” Nyhart said. “We want to be able to feed people without falling into the trap of that sort of classic sad-cafe fare.”
She said the café will service coffee from local roaster HalfWit, pastries from Pleasant House and will try to source its ingredients as much as possible from the 61st Street Farmers Market.
“We'll be pulling in market products where we can, for soup additions, toast toppings and a couple housemade breakfasts — the idea is to have a small menu that nourishes — food that feels good,” Nyhart said.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because it has almost become a tradition for the space on the eastern side of Experimental Station.
Until 2010, the space was the home of Backstory Café, which was also heavy on books, locally sourced food and also run by former U. of C. students.
After Backstory closed, B’Gabs Goodies ran a raw food and vegan deli out of the space until moving up to 57th Street in 2014 and the space has sat empty since.
Build Coffee is currently selling coffee at a stand at the 61st Street Farmers Market, which is every Saturday on the north side of Experimental Station.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: