Almost exactly nine months since it was first hit with anti-gentrification graffiti, vandals have again struck the Bow Truss Coffee Roasters in Pilsen, and owner Phil Tadros wants those responsible to come forward. It's unknown if the same parties responsible for defacing the coffee shop's facade earlier this year are back it again. However the messages are more direct this time around, as a sticker affixed to the shop's window read: "White people out of Pilsen!"
"I know Chicago is known to be segregated, but I don't really live in that frame of mind," Tadros said. "I don't really see that, I don't really accept that as reality because people are people. I think [that mentality] is just small. I think it's a sad mental place to stay."
That bigoted message is misplaced, Tadros reasoned, who said he's not sure if the messages targets his staff or customers. His family's from Jordan, and Tadros — a Chicagoan — said his company has a diverse staff consisting of different ethnicities.
There have been five incidents of vandalism over the last two-to-three weeks with the latest happening Sunday night/Monday morning. The stickers resemble the Chicago flag with different messages including "Pilsen still doesn't want you." A door was also tagged with "Pilsen is not for sale!" Bow Truss' sales don't seem to show that the community doesn't want them, as they continue to grow in Pilsen, Tadros added. Pilsen is known as a community with Mexican roots that's been changing in recent years.
"Maybe it's my ignorance, but I guess I'm having a hard time believing that we're a negative thing," he said.
It's not clear if the signs are a type of performance art, someone venting that their community is being forced to change or a genuine attempt to start a conversation. If it's the latter, Tadros says the messages are failures. When vandals (or conversation starters) hit the Pilsen store in January, Tadros kept the signs in the store, hoping they would give his customers and staff something to talk about. This time, the stickers border on offensive and won't be kept. Tadros wonders if other business in Pilsen have also been a target.
Meanwhile, his company continues to grow in and outside Chicago. A new shop with demographics radically different from Pilsen will open in a few weeks in Beverly Hills, Calif.