The walls maybe papered up on Lincoln Avenue, but Val Taylor assures that Loba Pastry + Coffee will open Thursday morning inside the former Bad Wolf Coffee space. Taylor is a former pastry cook at Bad Wolf, and she said her baking skills have grown since working for pastry genius Jonathan Ory who last year took his show to Charleston, S.C. She's teamed up with Coyote DeGroot, the owner of vintage eyeglass frame boutique Labrabbit Optics.
"There's always a lot of pressure starting a new project. I am a little nervous!" Taylor wrote via email. "Bad Wolf had a lot of regular costumers, [and] I am excited to hear their feedback. I've kept in touch with Jonathan. I consider him a dear friend even though he is bad at returning texts, it's cool, I know he is busy killing it in Charleston."
The pair, who bring different skills to the table, want to continue the lively rapport Bad Wolf held with their customers. DeGroot is bringing the business acumen, while Taylor's experience at Bad Wolf and Blackbird will buoy the pastries and coffee. Unlike Bad Wolf, Taylor will be a lone wolf at Loba, handling baking, barista and day to day operations. DeGroot said they'll eventually bring on more staff. Ory also worked by himself until the final six months when Taylor joined the team.
Taylor will offer a rotating selection of five pastries daily, with more of a focus on savory. Bad Wolf's customers came to love Ory's caneles and Taylor wouldn't commit to resurrecting them, but she didn't seal that door: "As far as caneles go, I still have the copper molds," she said. "I'll put them to good use once I figure out what to put in them."
One controversial element from Bad Wolf was the no WiFi policy, something Loba will discontinue. DeGroot called Internet "a basic human right."
"A little emailing never hurt anyone," he said. "Anyone bringing in a fax machine will be promptly turned away, however."
Loba will bypass local coffee roasters and head to the left coast for its beans. They'll pour java from Supersonic, based in Berkley, Calif. and Sightglass, based in San Francisco. DeGroot also boasted about Kyoto-style cold-drip iced coffee apparatus. "It looks like something out of high school chemistry class, but the resulting coffee is incredibly silky and delicious."
There's also a tea program headlined by New York-based In Pursuit of Tea, and they'll open up with about a dozen teas. "There are a lot of misunderstandings about what tea is, and about what it can taste like, so this is a huge area of opportunity," DeGroot said. "There isn't really a cool place to drink tea in Chicago, and we want to be that place."
Loba, which means she-wolf in Spanish, may take a few cues from its predecessor, but DeGroot and Taylor are working hard to make it their own. "We're creating something uniquely ours; not a sequel," DeGroot said.
Loba Coffee + Pastry, 3422 N. Lincoln Ave., (773) 456-9266. Open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; closed on Tuesday.