July 6th marked the grand opening of an exciting new venture on Chicago’s West Side. Talon Coffee is a non-profit, artisanal coffee shop created to support local college-preparatory high school, Chicago Hope Academy.
Talon is housed in a building dating back to 1896 that was initially slated for demolition by the city. Chicago Hope Academy founder, Bob Muzikowski saw the potential for the location to serve as an additional funding source for the school ($300 covers a student’s monthly tuition). At the same time, Talon manager, Henry Foote explains, the founding group envisioned a new cultural locus that would function not only as a gathering place for community members but a destination that would attract Chicagoans from other neighborhoods to enjoy all that the coffee shop has to offer. The original space has been transformed into a welcoming, beautiful, communal environment designed for relaxation, fellowship, and of course… great coffee. Foote notes, “The purpose of Talon is to use the universal language of coffee to create a sense of community in a neighborhood where there is no community center.”
Talon also provides jobs for community members; current employees include a Chicago Hope high school student, a parent, and a teacher’s wife. Foote is studying restaurant management at Cornell and has taken a year off from his program to take on this project. Under his leadership, students will be able to gain experience in the hospitality industry that can supplement future educational and professional goals.
Future plans include hosting Alcoholics Anonymous meetings two mornings and two evenings a week in the basement of the coffee shop. (The nearest AA meeting location is a 15-20 minute drive, making it difficult for many community members to attend). Talon would also like to open the space up to local artists looking for new venues to show their work; artists will be able to host openings and sell their pieces directly from the location. Tastings educating the public about the world of coffee are also in the works.
But back to the basics –Talon boasts a gorgeous, wooden Prohibition-era bar, a simple, charming menu of various Intelligentsia coffees and childhood staples, like the “giant donut” and “milk and Oreos.” Plenty of natural light, comfy leather couches, and small tables scattered throughout the main room make you want to settle down with a book or a laptop and stay all day.
So come support this fantastic little spot with big dreams –the pocket change that pays for your cup of coffee is giving hope and changing lives.
Talon Coffee is located at 2431 W. Roosevelt and is open Monday –Saturday from 6:30AM -3:00PM. Artists interested in showing work in the space, please contact Henry Foote at at 312-945-6856 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.