The coffeeshop from TV host Marcus Lemonis finally opened Monday morning in Wicker Park. Red Beard Coffee Traders was the subject of Lemonis’s TV show The Profit and opened its doors at 1948 W. North Avenue inside a space that was once earmarked for Bow Truss Coffee. Bow Truss founder Phil Tadros hoped to partner with Lemonis.
The partnership never got off the ground and lawsuits were filed, and accusations were made. Lemonis took over the North Avenue space from Bow Truss and set out to open a coffeeshop with a new partner. He recruited Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders out of Southern California and had the company’s founder and other team members appear on his CNBC reality television show. They’ve rebranded for the Midwest and serve their own coffee roasts, pastries. and smoothies.
Lemonis said they’ve signed leases for more stores. He wouldn’t disclose any addresses, but said they could open 12 more Red Beards over the course of the next 12 months in Chicago and the suburbs. The coffeeshop made the opening announcement via Facebook. Chicago Pipeline founder and ex-DNAinfo reporter Alisa Hauser first noticed the opening. They’ve got room for 30 seats with two coffee bars. They still have to put up some art, but they’ve gone for an industrial feel with unfinished concrete piping and more. They also have free WiFi.
Lemonis believes Red Beard will be successful in Chicago’s competitive coffee climate: “We are literally the people that source the coffee of many places you may know in Chicago,” Lemonis said.
Bodhi’s Steve Sims is running the Chicago operation for Lemonis. Sims farms coffee from Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, Panama, “literally anywhere that grows coffee.” They have a Probat coffee roaster on site, and will eventually roast coffee for the shop, Sims said. For now, they’re bringing in roasts from California. They only use specialty coffees.
“It’s nothing but the best in the cafe,” said Sims, who runs four Bodhi Leaf cafes in California.
Meanwhile, the Bow Truss at 406 N. Wells Street in River North recently closed. That leaves only one Bow Truss location, 190 S. LaSalle Street in the Loop, left open. Tadros said that the closing was planned, as the Wells Street building is soon to be gutted. That location is where former Bow Truss workers assembled outside and held a news conference in February to announce they were suing Tadros over last wages.
When told Bow Truss is only down to one shop, Lemonis deadpanned: “Hopefully he’s still paying his bills.”
Regardless of Bow Truss’s future, the crowded Wicker Park/Bucktown coffee scene (Wormhole, Gallery Cafe, Filter, Haven Lounge, Starbucks, and Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea, Goddess & Grocer, Le Colombe ) has a new addition. The first Red Beard Coffee Traders is now open.
Red Beard Coffee Traders, 1948 W. North Avenue, (714) 633-2326, open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily