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TV Star Marcus Lemonis To Help Replace Nixed Bow Truss With New Cafe

By Alisa Hauser | March 30, 2017 3:09pm | Updated on March 30, 2017 5:25pm
 Marcus Lemonis will help open Red Beard Coffee Traders at 1948 W. North Avenue.
Marcus Lemonis will help open Red Beard Coffee Traders at 1948 W. North Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK — A Bow Truss that never opened will instead become the first Red Beard Coffee Traders in the city, says owner Marcus Lemonis.

Lemonis, who has partnered on the concept with the founder of the California-based coffee company, said he hopes to expand to up to 15 locations within a year.

Lemonis' Blue Bell, Pa.-based ML Food Group owns the new cafe, which will be run by Steve Sims, a subject of a June episode of Lemonis' "The Profit," Eater reported on Wednesday.

A business mogul and reality TV star, Lemonis helps struggling business owners by investing in their enterprises for a share of the profits. 

On Thursday, Lemonis told DNAinfo that Sims, who is part of Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders chain in Southern California, will be bringing Red Beard Coffee Traders and a roastery to Chicago in partnership with ML Food Group.

The cafe, at 1948 W. North Ave., will specialize in high-end specialty coffee.

"He's one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He's so into this [coffee] space, he's warm and transparent and honest and the kind of people that you and I want to do business with," Lemonis said of Sims whom also has "a long red beard."

"We have a goal to open in 75 days," Lemonis said of the North Avenue location.

In December, Bow Truss' owner Phil Tadros was finalizing a deal to sell a majority stake in Bow Truss Coffee Roasters to Lemonis. But then in February, Tadros sued Lemonis after the deal fell apart.

When asked if Red Beard would be taking over other struggling Bow Truss outposts, Lemonis said "I don't anticipate that."

He said the Wicker Park location was a unique circumstance. "The landlord reached out to me to see if I could do anything," Lemonis said.

A broker representing the landlord Tefik Mehmeti was not immediately available for comment.

Asked to comment on the replacement for Bow Truss, Tadros said, "I would never discourage anyone from trying to do something good like opening up a coffee shop. So to the guys at Bodie leaf I wish them well."

Announced last March and first scheduled to replace a dentist office by the end of last year, the site has been a graffiti-marred silent construction zone for the past month.

Initially hoping to open in mid-January, Bow Truss was delayed to mid-March, Tadros told DNAinfo in December. But that was before Tadros was forced to temporarily shut down all Bow Truss locations after employees walked off the job in January.

Neighbors said they are surprised to see another cafe at such an already caffeine-saturated area with a half dozen cafes nearby and a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts next door to the future Red Beard.

"To be honest about it, we were wondering why another one is opening up. We've got La Colombe, Buzz and Wormhole, and even Tom's, they sell shoes but they also have a coffee shop," said Jackie Kregnik, a florist at Asrai Garden, across the street from the storefront.

In addition to the spots mentioned by Kregnik, the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection is also home to the just opened Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea Bar at 1620 N. Milwaukee Ave.; the recently expanded Starbuck's at 2001 W. North Ave.; Cafe Robey Upstairs, on the second floor of The Robey at 2018 W. North Ave.; and Bru at 1562 N. Milwaukee.

When asked how Red Beard will distinguish itself from the pack, Lemonis said "There is going to be way more there than coffee" and referred further questions to Sims.

Sims did not return a request for comment.