Chicago Coffee Shops Breaking Social and Economic Ground on the South Side

Cafes on the city's South Side are more than just businesses. They also provide important spaces for community building and economic development in neighborhoods that have been historically overlooked.

1 minute read

July 8, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By Camille Fink


Caffeine

baranq / Shutterstock

Cafes on Chicago's South Side play an important role in neighborhoods beyond just offering coffee and food. They provide safe and accessible places for residents in areas where these "third spaces" are few and far between.

Adam Lukach writes that Dion and Colette Tasker Steele opened Heritage Cafe with a vision of a communal space that would foster community. "The Tasker Steeles are part of a long history of Black business owners who have prioritized growth within their local communities more than their bottom line. They are also an example of residents and entrepreneurs using coffee shops and cafes as vehicles to rejuvenate their communities."

These business owners often face challenges getting their businesses off the ground in areas where investment is low. Residents have also expressed concerns about the gentrification that can come with new businesses, and building trust is key, notes Lukach. "That 'community building' approach to hospitality can be found among many entrepreneurs — Black or non-Black — in Black neighborhoods on the South Side, [Bernard] Loyd said."

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