For nearly a decade downtown Skokie has wanted two things: A new CTA station at Oakton Street and Skokie Boulevard and a coffee shop.
While the above is a slight exaggeration, it does paint a bigger picture of what’s being done to transform downtown Skokie into an attractive destination not only for shoppers and diners, but also for new coffee drinking commuters.
With the train already in place, the village sought after two major coffee sellers– Starbucks and Caribou – but never reached an agreement on the location. Both businesses wanted to build their stores at the traffic circle where the ‘kiss-n-ride’ drop off / pick up currently sits. It would have been similar to the Starbucks at the Skokie Swift.
Now, 40-year-old Craig Hahn is looking to fill that void, but at a different location. The Skokie resident is currently in the process of opening a coffee shop at 4904 Oakton St., or right next door to Annie's Pancake House.
“I've not had one person say this is a bad idea,” said Hahn regarding his prospective coffee shop. "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time."
Hahn was present with his daughter during Oakton Stop’s first run on April 30. The former Chicago stock broker said the new train station was the primary reason he chose his location; but it wasn't always his first choice.
"I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing this – being in the board of trade – when I first thought of the area," Hahn said. "Puppy Lovers was my first choice, but it was cost prohibitive and it wasn't in the TIF district."
Hahn was referring to the odd shaped blue vacant building across the street from the Oakton Stop on Skokie Boulevard. He said he chose that location because the store's taxes would have gone to School District 69, which is where his kids currently attend school.
However, the village offers $50,000 and at times, a $100,000 for most people looking to open a new store in downtown Skokie. In many cases, the money is used to complete indoor renovations, a cost usually associated with opening a new business. Hahn said the train station and TIF funding played a key role when reconsidering his location.
"The Roost Cafe"
While the name isn't official, Hahn said he is thinking of calling his store the Roost Cafe. And while there's bakery shops and diners that sell coffee, Hahn said there's little competition for what he's trying to do in the area.
One of his ideas include having a walkup window for customers for the morning commute during 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., he said.
"If you just want a cup of coffee and a bagel and pastry, you can do that," he said. "It'd be kind of like the Doughnut Hole in Chicago."
In the meantime, the store isn't official, and Hahn said he is currently seeking some capital or possibly a business partner.
"I have my business plan 95 percent done," he said. "I’m trying to take my time and do it right. My objective is to start by late Fall."
Read more: Skokie may look like a completely different shopping town come two years. Check the site on Wednesday as we report how many new jobs will be created from the upcoming Touhy Marketplace, XSport Fitness and more.