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Buzz: Killer Espresso Leaving Wicker Park For Logan Square This Spring

By Alisa Hauser | March 6, 2017 2:39pm

The building at 1644 N. Damen Ave. where Buzz: Killer Espresso has been located since Jan. 2010. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

WICKER PARK —  The vintage house that has been home to Buzz: Killer Espresso, will be demolished this spring and replaced by a new modern building.

The 7-year-old neighborhood coffee shop which underwent an expansion in 2013 is not dead, however. Owners Stefan Hersh and Agnes Otworowski will be opening a cafe in Logan Square, they announced Monday. 

Located at 1644 N. Damen Ave., Buzz: Killer Espresso opened in January 2010 just north of the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection along a strip of Damen that both Wicker Park and Bucktown boosters lay claim.

"For a long time now we have been anxious to expand our range of offerings. The cafe in Wicker Park faced logistical challenges that made such expansion too impractical to seriously contemplate. We looked for alternate locations for a couple of years before settling on a terrific space at 2779 N. Milwaukee Ave., just south of Diversey, with frontage on both Milwaukee and Diversey," Hersh and Otworowski, who serve as Buzz Killer Espresso's co-owner and general manager, respectively, said on Monday.

Hersh and Otworowski called the changes "bittersweet."

Agnes Otworwski and Stefan Hersh, co-owners of Buzz Killer Espresso, said that their new second-level addition "changes the whole vibe" of their coffee shop. Plenty of natural lighting, over twice the amount of seating, a second bathroom and better acoustics are among the highlights of the renovation. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

"On the one hand, we will miss our friends and loyal regulars in Wicker Park and will be truly sorry to leave the energy of one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the city. On the other hand, we are energized about the new space and the growth potential in Logan Square and all that we will be able to offer in the new cafe," the partners said.

Along with the new cafe, Hersh said that Buzz: Coffee Roasters is developing a roastery and commercial kitchen on the northwest side that will serve as a production facility to deliver food and coffee for the new Logan Square Cafe, wholesale accounts and a new catering business.

The exact dates are still pending but the opening is slated for this year, Hersh said. 

News of the building's impending demolition was shared earlier this month at the Wicker Park Committee's monthly meeting.

Ed Tamminga, chairman of the neighborhood group's preservation and development subcommittee, said the group voted last month to support a zoning change needed to build the new storefront.

"The building is not historic and the replacement building is a two-story commercial property that fits in with the street," Tamminga said.

Sara Barnes, a zoning lawyer for building owner Don Glisovich, shared renderings of what the new building will look like, by architect John Henna.

Rendering of proposed new building to replace the 1644 N. Damen building. [Hanna Architects, Inc.]

If everything goes as planned, Barnes said the demolition of the old building and construction of the new storefront would begin this spring.

On Monday, Glisovich said that the house at 1644 N. Damen Ave. is more than 100-years-old and not functional.

"The bathrooms aren't handicapped [accessible] and there are stairs at the front to walk up to it, not ADA compliant either," he said.

Glisovich described Buzz: Killer Espresso as "wonderful tenants for many years who just wanted to move on to bigger and better things."

"I go there many times a week and will still go to their Logan Square store," Glisovich said.

Glisovich said he cannot say what tenant has been brought on to replace the cafe, neighbored by a Nike Running store and Marine Layer, a boutique that opened in 2014.

"I guarantee it won't be running shoes; it will be something very cool," he said.