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Owners of Successful UK Coffee Houses Purchase Edgewater’s Chicago Grind Cafe

After opening the Edgewater coffee cafe Chicago Grind at 5256 N. Broadway a little over four years ago, owner Jim Dababneh has sold the business to United Kingdom-based Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.

Regular customers of Chicago Grind will not see a big change initially as the name will stay the same and they will be retaining the current staff according to Ashley Lopez who is one of the founders and partners of London’s popular Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. Most food selections will stay the same, however Chicago’s Halfwit Coffee Roasters will now be served at the cafe with two house blends on drip everyday.

With 20 cafes throughout the UK, Lopez brings her first US stores to Chicago. There are currently three other locations in Chicago that have opened in the last year including 800 W Diversey, 555 W Madison and 190 S LaSalle .

“We opened our first coffee shop in London in 2010, and then we began to open organically in some key areas throughout the city,” said Lopez. “We believe coffee shops are hubs of communities, and each of our stores reflects the communities that we are in. Each location has a different look and nothing is cookie cutter.”

Lopez, who was born and raised in the Chicago suburb of Elgin, moved to the UK to pursue a Master’s Degree. So it was an easy decision to start her first US stores in Chicago, a city she knows well and where many good friends and family still live. As Lopez scouted neighborhoods to open new locations, Edgewater stuck out as a great opportunity.

“We are really excited about being in Edgewater and have already been impressed how warm and welcoming everyone has been to us,” Lopez added. “The diversity of the area is really interesting. You have all different walks of life and I think it’s really cool to have all these people with different backgrounds sharing a space. You feel the community here and that is something I have always been really passionate about.”

Dababneh, who also owns Pizzeria Aroma at 1125 W Berwyn, explained that he needed to focus on the pizza restaurant which is expecting a move to a much bigger location nearby at 5350 N Broadway. He said that he decided to list Chicago Grind for sale by owner back in May because the new restaurant required a lot of capital, time and energy to make it successful.

“I am very pleased with the Chicago Grind experience. It gave me an opportunity to do a project with my wife,” said Dababneh. “Obviously you’re going to miss the relationships that you develop in retail. There are lot of good people coming in and out of that coffee shop and I’m going to miss the staff. We have a very good crew there. I ensured that all of the staff would be retained. Obviously I’ll miss my free extra hot skim lattes in the morning but ill be happy to support the new owners.”

Dababneh will hand over the reins of Chicago Grind to Lopez on February 1.


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