It’s the end of the school year and while students are away for summer, a number of establishments in Rogers Park and Edgewater in their first year of operation are open for business.
The most recent addition is Tekkeez Tech repair, a Chicago-based repair franchise.
It has been in operation since March 13, but only officially opened its doors on April 28 in an event that featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Alderman Harry Osterman, 48th, a store blessing from Sister Jean, games and discounts.
Owner and Loyola alum Chavez Carter, class of 2016, first entered the technology industry three years ago while he was still an undergraduate student. As a recent graduate, Carter says the support he has received from his alma mater is overwhelming.
“I’m truly grateful to be in the position I’m in today, and to be able to say I’m from Loyola and now I’ve opened a shop [near] Loyola’s campus,” Carter said.
Carter’s Edgewater store is currently the only Tekkeez store in operation.
The other location, not owned by Carter and formerly in Lincoln Park, closed down when management of the building it was housed in changed. Tekkeez Tech Repair is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and to 4 p.m. on weekends at 6204 N. Broadway St.
A Chicago-themed gift store called ChiTown Magpie also opened its doors in March.
Last year, the 6443 N. Sheridan Road retail space was occupied by a Loyola Goods Chicago pop-up shop, but the owner decided not to continue business in December. That’s when the owner of ChiTown Magpie, Sara Blackstone, heard of the vacancy.
Blackstone said Loyola granted her use of the space as an opportunity to continue a similar kind of business as the pop-up shop that was there before. She opened ChiTown Magpie on March 4. Today her store hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Most of the products Blackstone sells are made in Chicago. She said she is trying to get as many contributing Rogers Park artists as possible.
“Rogers Park is a very artistic community, so we want to provide an opportunity for these artists to have a space where they can sell their work five days a week,” Blackstone said.
The artists are paid on a commission basis. Blackstone finds artists at local art shows and through Etsy, the online sales platform.
She said she has even had artists walk into the store and offer their work. She’s optimistic for the future of the store; she says there will always be a need for the kind of items she sells and that ChiTown Magpie is here to stay.
The Granada Center saw its previous cafe occupant, Café Descartes, close in 2016, but Caffé ArrivaDolce plans to become a permanent fixture at 6451 N. Sheridan Road.
Co-owner Jill Gross chose Rogers Park partly because she has a son who is graduating from Loyola this May and also because she wanted to be near a university and an El stop, and the Sheridan Road location fulfilled both.
Gross wants for the cafe to become an integral part of the community and knows that in order to do so, “you can’t survive on just being a coffee shop.” She said cafes need to provide things like meals, sweets and pastries as well as serve drinks, although the drinks will always be most important.
“Drinks will lead the way … espresso drinks especially,” Gross said.
Since opening in Rogers Park, co-owner Amy Touchette has taken over their first location in Highland Park. She said her experience at the first location helped her streamline the process of settling into the niche Loyola community.
Caffé ArrivaDolce is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. It currently is not open on Sundays, but is looking to expand store hours as well as provide outdoor seating as early as the end of this month.
Bulldog Ale House is another chain that has made Rogers Park its home. It opened at 6606 N. Sheridan Road, one block north of the Lake Shore Campus, on Jan. 11. It’s currently the only Chicago location and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The alehouse has been open for four months and has already become part of the fabric of Loyola, according to floor manager Edwin Perez. Daily food and drink specials attract a crowd of students and faculty alike.
Bulldog is not the only chain business to open near Loyola recently. But Perez and ArrivaDolce’s Gross see the influx of chain stores as a good thing.
“I don’t look at it as gentrification. I look at it as progress,” Perez said.
As a Rogers Park resident of 20 years, he has seen the area slowly change. Gross believes chain stores are indicators of a growing neighborhood. She said it’s nice to see places that weren’t as lively 30 years ago become more vibrant, and if the past year is any indication, Rogers Park could see even more growth this year.