This isn’t a fluff piece—but it kind of is—as XO Marshmallow Cafe’s owners say they’re targeting the first week of June to open at 6977 N. Sheridan Road in Rogers Park. It’s Chicago’s first dedicated marshmallow cafe, using recipes co-owner Kat Connor began perfecting while a student at Marquette University law school.
And yes, besides the marshmallows, they’ll also have a full-service espresso bar with drinks topped with fresh-made marshmallow fluff. “It’s going to be super creamy on top of the drinks,” Connor said.
Connor partnered with Lindzi Shanks on XO, initially selling gourmet marshmallows online in flavors like champagne, salted caramel, and coffee Kahlua. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign—they raised more than $6,500 to seal the deal for their plans to open the cafe—they’ll also offer limited edition flavors like strawberry and Nutella. They also want do seasonal varieties like passion fruit in the summer and pumpkin spice in the fall. A Butterbeer flavor might be in the works to appease Harry Potter fans. There are Rice Krispie treats and house-made Whoopie Pies, too.
A big draw should be a make-your-own s’mores bar. Patrons will be able to pick their marshmallow, chocolate, and Graham cracker, then watch XO’s staff melt the middle with a handheld blow torch. There’s also a giant pink neon lettering in cursive inside the store reading, “I love you s’more.” They switched it from “we want s’more.”
“We have delicious, nostalgic, wonderfully-Instagramable treats,” Shanks said.
OMG our @kickstarter is officially FULLY FUNDED, meaning Chicago...you are getting a freaking MARSHMALLOW CAFE!! And we thought we'd celebrate some s'more By smushing our delicious champagne marshmallow between a couple of our favorite @goglazed mini donuts! But the Kickstarter isn't over yet! We are doing a reach goal of $10k. If we reach that goal, we will release another marshmallow flavor...passion fruit! #xomarshmallow #madewithlove #mashmallowcafe #smorelove
The 700-square-foot space, which will have seating for about 15 or 16, is near the beach which the duo hopes make them a popular destination for families with small children. There’s also potential for outdoor seating. XO could also have mass appeal for adults — and children — who are intrigued by the boozier options. Don’t worry, the alcohol gets burned off during cooking so it’s all right for children. The coffee will come from Two Brothers Coffee Roasters, which makes more than beer.
Shanks, who majored in psychology in college, runs an online store, Trendy Sparrow, which first sold the marshmallows. The duo, which also scored a pop-up store at Block 37, have more plans including opening more locations. They’re looking forward to working with a delivery service to help Loyola and Northwestern university students who need a sweet pick-me up while studying, and even joked about eventually opening a bar that would serve alcoholic drinks.
They’re also working on recipes to satisfy different diets, but it’s not easy. Connor talked about making a vegan marshmallow but it’s hard to retain the marshmallow’s shape without the aid of gelatin: “We’re close,” she said.
Come back later in the coming weeks for more details, including an opening date.