LAKEVIEW — More than anything, Daniel Barat wants to be a good neighbor.
That's why within weeks of opening Lakeview Rewired Cafe at 3508 N. Broadway, Barat was selling baked goods made fresh at Lakeview Kitchen and Market down the street. Each Monday, Graham Crackers Comics down at 3162 N. Broadway hosts a pop-up comic shop inside the quaint, garden-level cafe.
To the untrained eye, it might not be apparent that there was any change at all in the restaurant. But Barat is hoping that once customers venture in to the revamped Rewired, they'll notice a big change.
"A million places serve Metropolis coffee and have breakfast sandwiches," the first-time business owner said. "But it's about the warm welcome when you come in, and knowing the names of the people who come in every day and what they drink — that emotional connection with our guests."
Barat, a native of Flint, Mich., "never thought" he'd own a coffee shop, but felt the opportunity too good to pass up when the storefront became available.
"It was a great deal and the timing was good, so let's try it out," he said.
Before Barat and business partner Jimmie Swaggerty moved in, the building was Wired Coffee House, owned by husband-and-wife duo Antony van Zyl and Antonia Connor. The couple also opened a second Wired location in Evanston and recently opened the smash hit Midnight Mac and Cheeserie and adjacent breakfast cafe Nibbles and Nosh in Rogers Park.
The Broadway cafe has a long history slinging cups of joe; it was Senem's Coffee & Tea House before Wired opened in May 2015. A decade ago, it was Tech Shield Computer Service.
Barat and Swaggerty know there's a lot at stake, and they're hoping that the combination of community engagement — like hosting "RuPaul's Drag Race" watch parties, acoustic guitarists and charity days when a portion of Rewired sales will be donated — and tasty treats will be enough to lure customers to the new cafe.
The small garden-level cafe had a quick makeover before reopening as Rewired Cafe in early June. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
"I could make no money on this whatsoever, but if it breaks even and we're giving back — and maybe I can pay my rent — then I'm completely happy," Barat said.
The Uptown resident got his start in front-of-house operations at restaurants in River North, which gave him plenty of connections to reach out for the quick turnaround of Rewired Cafe, he said.
"People were here until midnight, painting every day and cleaning, helping with the [ordering] system," Barat said. "I said, like, we're going to stick with what I know: I know Metropolis is great, and I didn't have time to test other coffees."
A 12-ounce cup of coffee at Rewired is $2.75, with the same size of hot tea costing $3.
Central to its mission to be a good neighbor, Rewired Cafe sells products made at Lakeview Kitchen and Market, including these Velvet Desserts pain au chocolate. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]
Espresso drinks range from a $1.75 Americano to a $4.50 large mocha. The cafe also has frappes made with green tea, banana caramel and horchata for $3.50-$5.50 and iced drinks between $2.50-$4.75.
For breakfast, Rewired has breakfast sandwiches and quiche for $4-$6. Lunch offerings include grilled cheese with bacon, a BLT and a sriracha chicken salad sandwich served on ciabatta. All are served on bread from West Town Bakery.
"Literally everything aside from the Pelligrino and the Mexican coke is sourced from" Chicago, Barat said.
Sumptuous desserts from Maggie O'Brien of Velvet Dessert and Lakeview Kitchen and Market are up for grabs, like a deluxe mini s'mores pie, packets of macarons, pain au chocolate and croissants.
"I don't think anyone's pastries are as good as Maggie's," Barat said. "They're incredible."
Local art is also on display, and fans of Wired's printing services will find similar options at Rewired.