Rogers Park Honey Berry Cafe Closes Causing Employees to Reveal Unsatisfactory Work Environment 

Honey Berry Cafe closed this month after only 4 months of being open.

Honey Berry Cafe, a breakfast and lunch restaurant located just outside Loyola’s campus at 6606 N. Sheridan Road, closed its doors in January after four months of business. 

Honey Berry Cafe replaced Bulldog Ale House in September. Both restaurants are run by the same umbrella company, WeEat Hospitality, The Phoenix previously reported.

Honey Berry was known for its pancake breakfasts but also served omelets, sandwiches, waffles and cocktails. The cafe was open from 7am to 3pm on weekends and from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, according to their website

Andres Sanchez, a 21-year-old former employee of both Honey Berry Cafe and Bulldog Ale House, said he anticipated Honey Berry closing in the few months he worked there because of the deteriorating food quality and expensive menu items.

Along with other previous Bulldog’s employees, Sanchez said he transferred to Honey Berry immediately after Bulldog’s closed, which led many employees to become close friends even after their employment.

Sanchez said he worked at Honey Berry from its opening until he chose to quit a month before it closed down. 

Sanchez said even after only a couple months working at Honey Berry, he felt exhausted from the pressure management and higher-ups put on workers, often forcing employees to work eight to nine hour shifts without breaks.

The Illinois Department of Labor requires employers to provide workers with at least a 20-minute meal break for every 7.5 hours worked, according to the One Day Rest in Seven Act. Employers who violate rest requirements under the ODRSISA may be guilty of a petty offense and fined $25 to $100.

WeEat Hospitality didn’t respond to The Phoenix’s requests for comment.

Initially, Sanchez said he thought a breakfast restaurant would be a good addition to the Rogers Park area after Bulldog’s closed, but he said the quality of the food quickly declined.

“The food was good at the beginning, but their quality just went down because they couldn’t afford the workers,” Sanchez said.

Employees at the Rogers Park Honey Berry completed their training at the downtown Honey Berry location at 901 S. State St., according to Sanchez. He said there was a noticeable difference between the working conditions downtown and the quality of food and service.

When Sanchez trained at the downtown location, workers were permitted to take short breaks to sit down during long shifts, but at the Rogers Park location breaks were often not given, according to Sanchez.

Honey Berry has 14 locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Texas, according to their website.

Sanchez said he believes the reason for the difference in quality between locations was because Honey Berry was too expensive for college students in Rogers Park compared to patrons of the downtown location, leading to slow business and lower quality food. 

“It was too much even for non-college students,” Sanchez said. “Just because Rogers Park isn’t like a downtown area, as well, where you’re willing to spend that much for a good view.”

Theodore Grassman, a third-year student at Loyola and employee at Honey Berry, said he was unaware the cafe had closed until a friend alerted him when he returned back to school from winter break, expecting to also return to work.

Grassman said he worked at Honey Berry the entire time it was open. 

Honey Berry managers never informed him the business planned to and had closed while he was home for the holidays, according to Grassman. He said he chose not to contact his employers at Honey Berry when he realized the cafe had closed because he didn’t want to continue working for Honey Berry.

“It wasn’t the best place to work,” Grassman said. “I’m not incredibly unhappy about it closing down and no longer working there.”

Sanchez said when Bulldog Ale House closed, he didn’t receive any notice until he went into work on the day the restaurant closed and things were being moved out. 

Grassman said the constant pressure from management and the strict environment of the cafe made him feel exhausted from working there.

Despite stern management, Grassman said Honey Berry employees developed camaraderie among each other since they were all going through the same thing, 

Sanchez said when he first began at Honey Berry, he was missing a paycheck from his time at Bulldog’s. Knowing both restaurants were owned by the same umbrella company, Sanchez said he went to his manager at Honey Berry to help him troubleshoot. The manager refused to help and threatened to cut his work hours, according to Sanchez. 

There hasn’t been an announcement about what will replace Honey Berry Cafe.

Featured Image by Daphne Kraushaar / The Phoenix

Julia Pentasuglio

Julia Pentasuglio