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New West Rogers Park Cafe, Opening Tomorrow, Hopes to Make Kosher Food Cool

Bond Coffee Collective owners hope to buck stereotypes of kosher food with a cozy vibe, light bites, and plenty of caffeine

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Bond Coffee Collective opens tomorrow in West Rogers Park.
Bond Coffee Collective [Official Photo]

A new cafe from the owners of popular Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea opens in West Rogers Park on Thursday. Bond Coffee Collective from co-founders Max Dayan and Michael Schultz is designed to function as a gathering place for families and communities, and will abide by strict rules of kashrut, or Jewish dietary laws. It’s slated to open tomorrow at 7555 N. California Avenue with coffee drinks, smoothies, and light bites.

The space seats about 40, according to Schultz, and has a substantial patio as well as a drive-thru window. Dayan and Schultz both have children and appreciate the sometimes long struggle of getting kids in and out of the car to get something to eat, so they streamlined the process. The cozy, playful space features a refurbished payphone booth (a foreign concept to some younger diners), fireplace, and decorative plants. Schultz said he plans to include oversize Jenga and Connect 4, as well as an outdoor fire pit where customers can roast marshmallows.

The shop’s drink offerings include classic coffee and espresso drinks featuring local roaster Passion House Coffee, as well as draft cold brew and Rishi iced tea. The drink menu also includes specialty drinks, like a color-changing “Purple Matcha Potion” (sweet matcha, butterfly pea flower tea, coconut milk). Four smoothies are also available, such as the “Berry Oat” (blueberry, strawberry, almond milk, agave nectar).

Light food options include a selection of six toasts, including an avocado multigrain toast with strawberry, mango, Thai basil, balsamic, and chia seeds, and a take on a tofu bahn mi with marinated tofu, ginger soy aioli, and pickled vegetables. Diners can also expect pastries, a few salads, and a sizable choice of bowls, like a tropical acai bowl (pineapple, mango, acai, banana, coconut, chia seeds, flax seeds). The full food and drink menu is available below.

The cafe is named for co-founder Max Dayan’s mother, Bonnie.
The Gauge Collective

Everything about Bond Coffee Collective is personal for its owners. The shop is named for Dayan’s mother Bonnie, and as a tribute to her ability to bring people together and cultivate community. The shop sits around the corner from the former home of Schultz’s Grandpa Irv, who was also his hero. He wants to give customers the joy and love he experienced with his grandfather in his youth, and pass that legacy on to his children. He also wants to buck negative stereotypes about kosher food: it’s expensive, it’s unhealthy, it doesn’t taste good. “Everybody told me it was impossible,” Schultz said. “We’re disrupting misconceptions that something kosher can’t be cool.”

The shop will abide by the rules of Chalav Yisrael (sometimes pronounced Cholov Yisroel), a term from Jewish liturgy that refers to all dairy products and the conditions required for them to be considered kosher — namely, the animals that produce milk and supervision during milking by a mashgiach, a religious Jew who insures the kashrut status of an establishment.

The number of people who adhere to such stringent rules is small, and Schultz said he initially didn’t think the the effort and financial investment was worth it. A conversation with a rabbi friend, however, changed his attitude about what it means to run a truly inclusive cafe. “I looked at him with nine children, telling him that he can’t take his children there,” he said. “I want people to be able to wake up and say to their children, ‘Go there, I have no concerns.’ It’s at the highest level of certification.”

Schultz also stressed the value of celebrating difference as political clashes over race and immigration continue in Washington D.C. “In a world where things are so polarized, this is a celebration of diversity through coffee and tea and food, which is the only way I know how to do it,” he said. “As citizens of this planet sometimes we just need a little reminder that it’s diversity that makes us beautiful and makes the world interesting. Bond is our little nod to that.”

The Chicago metro area is home to about 291,800 Jews, according to the latest numbers from the Jewish Data Bank (the last survey was in 2010), and the Chicago Rabbinic Council catalogues the region’s kosher establishments online. Around 24,000 Jews live in West Rogers Park and the neighborhood has a rich religious and cultural history, chronicled in the documentary Driving West Rogers Park: Chicago’s Once and Future Jewish Neighborhood.

Bond Coffee Collective is from the owners of popular mini-chain Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, which operates locations in Bucktown, Fulton Market, and Millennium Park, as well as Minnesota and California. The brand has plans to expand to Oak Park, Vernon Hills, and Milwaukee.

The cafe opens tomorrow in West Rogers Park.

Bond Coffee Collective, 7555 N. California Avenue, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday; closed Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.