Foxtrot Market, the chain that started six years ago to deliver beer and wine to customers at home, is now leaning harder into the hospitality portion of its business. It’s opening a new flagship cafe on August 6 in Old Town at the busy North Avenue and Wells Street intersection. And this location isn’t just about bags of chips and snacks — it features a full menu and more than 80 seats.
The Old Town location, 1562 N. Wells Street, is counter service. It seats 50 indoors and another 34 outside scattered among two patios — one on Wells and another in back. That’s near Chicago’s popular Second City comedy club and infamous late-night bar Old Town Ale House.
Foxtrot co-founder Mike LaVitola described the food as a “healthy-ish brunch menu” with items like breakfast tacos, toasts, sandwiches, and overnight oats. Foxtrot’s executive chef Brad Alexander, who worked for Rosebud Restaurants, created the menu. It has smoothies, boozy slushies, and more to drink.
Old Town will give Foxtrot its eighth location. The others offer draft beer, sandwiches, and even CBD beverages at stores in neighborhoods including Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview. The company is also perched for national expansion — a Dallas location, its first outside the Chicago market, opened in June.
When LaVitola and co-founder Taylor Bloom began Foxtrot, it was driven by eCommerce. Customers would order beer and wine using a smartphone app. The first stores reflected that, as the smaller locations essentially served as mini-warehouses for deliveries with packaged snacks. While online sales still represent about half of Foxtrot’s business, LaVitola said they found their customers also wanted coffee and food. LaVitola grew enamored with breakfast tacos while spending time in Austin, Texas. The morning tacos made an ideal trial balloon for food. The Old Town location will serve espresso, with Metric Coffee providing the beans.
“We have customers coming in every day for coffee, picking up wine on their way homes,” LaVitola said. “With our new locations, we really want to be that old-school corner store place where people come in every day.”
One of the star items for LaVitola is a bagel sandwich (the bagels are from Once Upon a Bagel in suburban Highland Park). “The Fox Trap” features baked eggs, Hook’s cheddar, avocado, baby kale, and zhoug, on an everything bagel.
Foxtrot plans to open a second Dallas location this year and few more in Chicago. Going forward, the Old Town store, with its expanded seating and menu, will be the template used for new stores. Some food items will make their ways to existing locations, too. Customers can order wine by the glass or buy a bottle off the shelf to enjoy on premises. The cafe has two draft lines for beer with selections from Hopewell Brewing.
Retailers, like Lululemon, Crate and Barrel, and Restoration Hardware, are relying on restaurants to bring more customers to their stores. Online sales have eaten into on-site business. LaVitola acknowledged that retailers are “doing everything to drive traffic to stores.” But Foxtrot isn’t in the same position as those stores. He believes that food and drink are integral to the market’s growth: “It’s about leading with our coffee program and building a menu around that.”
For the Old Town neighborhood, Foxtrot is picking up the slack left when Le Pain Quotidien closed at the end of 2018. In previous lives, the space housed Boston Market and Pizza Hut. Take a look at the menu below.