Chicago is ready to once again embrace the concept of the all-day cafe. Or at least that is what the owners of the millennial-friendly Edie’s All Day Cafe & Bar are hoping as they prepare to expand to a second location in River North, inside the former 3 Greens Market. Next spring, the owners hope to revive the space near the East Bank Club, from coffee in the morning to wine and charcuterie at night.
“We borrowed our inspiration from Australian cafe culture,” says co-owner Matt Matros. “Landlords love us because it’s a simple operation and there’s no late-night bar.”
“It lends itself to spending time throughout the day,” adds his co-owner Arturo Gomez. Gomez was a founding partner — along with Billy Dec — at Rockit Ranch Productions and helped shape the company’s various nightlight endeavors.
Edie’s actually evolved from Matros’s previous cafe venture, Limitless Coffee and Tea in Fulton Market, which specialized in colorful, Instagram-friendly lattes that especially appealed to young women. Matros has since closed the cafe and sold the wholesale sparkling water and coffee operation to Keurig Dr Pepper.
Though some of Limitless’ health claims were disputed by coffee experts, the cafe’s success, and the clientele it attracted, surprised Matros — it was a change from his previous business, Protein Bar, which he says was more male dominated. When Gomez joined him to transform the River North Limitless location into Edie’s, they decided to lean into what they describe as the brand’s “feminine tone” and name the new spot after Gomez’s stylish and opinionated 5-year-old daughter. They kept the pretty coffee drinks, added salads, wraps, and wine, and served them in a bright, airy space with lots of plants. Gomez’s daughter continues to contribute her thoughts about the design and pastry selections.
For the new location, chef Chris Dunstatter (694 Wine and Spirits) will expand the menu with a focus on charcuterie and wine to bring in more business at dinnertime. Patrick Cullen, who worked with Gomez at Rockit Ranch, will run the bar program, while Emma Ballison handles coffee.
The new Edie’s will take over roughly half the space formerly occupied by 3 Greens Market, the enormous all-day spot from Hogsalt Hospitality that contained multitudes: a cafe, a burger joint, a hot food bar, and a putting green. “The putting green is gone,” says Matros. “8,400 square feet for a stand-alone cafe was big. The putting green was a prime example of wasted space.” Edie’s will be a comparatively small 4,200 square feet, including a kitchen.
The all-day cafe is nothing new — workers have been camping out at Starbucks for decades now — but Gomez and Matros consider Edie’s part of a larger movement of more upscale all-day spots, including Beatrix and the upcoming Cafe Sophie, that are designed to accommodate not just those who want to linger with their laptops, but also to appeal to the growing number of people who would rather socialize earlier in the day rather than late at night: coffee with a friend, or an early drink or dinner with a date.
This is, they think, a good time to expand. The first year of the pandemic killed the cafe business, but since the the city opened up again with the arrival of the vaccines, there are plenty of workers whose offices are still closed who are getting restless working from home and want a change of scenery.
They’re not concerned about finding enough staff to keep two cafes open all day every day — or at least not as concerned as they were during the summer. “We’ve had much less applications than we did in March 2019,” Matros says. “Less people want to stay in the service industry. But we’ve been lucky so far.” Gomez attributes Edie’s good fortune with staff retention to its veteran professionals who are able to train the young first-timers, usually college students.
In the future, they hope to expand with more Edie’s locations: they believe that all-day cafes will become a part of the routine of ordinary Chicagoans. “It’s a place to go for a first date, a first interview, a catch-up, to bring your laptop and work,” says Gomez. “There’s always a reason to go there.”
Edie’s All Day Cafe & Bar Hubbard Street, 354 W. Hubbard Street, Scheduled to open late spring 2022.