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The New Alley Opens: Look Inside The Reborn Punk Rock Shop, Cafe

By Ariel Cheung | August 5, 2017 10:26am | Updated on August 7, 2017 8:34am
 The Alley is back with coffee and a select line of apparel and accessories that made it so well-known as a staple of punk culture in Lakeview.
The Alley: 1776 Opens This Weekend On Clark Street
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LAKEVIEW — The Alley 1776 opened Saturday afternoon, with all the beloved punk apparel its longtime customers have been missing since the original shop closed in early 2016.

Now a coffee shop with a second-floor pop-up version of The Alley carrying its best-selling T-shirts, belt buckles, leather jackets and accessories, The Alley 1776 will be open starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at 3223 N. Clark St.

The soft opening festivities begin with a smattering of giveaways over the next month, including free tickets to Riot Fest.

"The last time I did this, I was 10 years younger, and I had a staff of 100 people," said longtime owner of The Alley Mark Thomas. "But I'm excited. It's everything I hoped for."

RELATED: Punk Isn't Dead In Lakeivew: The Alley Opening Cafe, Shop Near Old Location

Starting Monday, the shop will be giving out free samples of Dark Matter Coffee to entice new customers, part of its focus on becoming a coffee shop with sandwiches and a menu carefully crafted by Thomas' business partner, Michael Markellos of Philly's Best.

Markellos said he wants to work with nearby restaurants to create a rotating menu offering a range of cuisines, including some food that can be ordered from the Belmont Avenue restaurants and delivered to The Alley within 15 minutes.

The two have been friends for 25 years, and Thomas has tried to tempt Markellos into a few projects. But when the pair saw the former carpet store at 3223 N. Clark St., neither could say no to the vision they instantly shared.

Upstairs, Thomas has curated the best of what The Alley sold online and in its 39 years in Lakeview. Jewelry, incense, belt buckles, T-shirts and other accessories line the shelves, while a showroom selection of leather jackets can be tried on before they're ordered and delivered to customers.

Thomas said it's going to be up to customers to determine how long the new version of The Alley lasts.

"All my customers who love me, they're going to have to stop loving me from a distance and they've got to come down here," Thomas said. "Have a cup of coffee or a sandwich, buy a T-shirt.

"People are going to have to start showing their local retailers love. And if they don't, it'll be an Amazon world and the neighborhood will be empty."