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A Ukrainian Coffee Brand Will Unveil Its First U.S. Cafe in Chicago

Soloway Coffee’s sleek new cafe is the first phase of an international expansion

The exterior of a coffee shop. Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

A Ukrainian coffee company that helped bring Third Wave culture to its home country is preparing to make its U.S. debut in January by opening its first cafe in Lincoln Park.

Soloway Coffee, a sleek and minimalistic third place from ambitious founders and spouses Artur and Iriyna Yuzvik, is slated to launch in late January at 2275 N. Lincoln Avenue. The wedge-shaped corner cafe, which previously housed an outpost of health-focused chain Real Good Stuff, represents the beginning of a new American story for a couple that acknowledges their habit of choosing the difficult path.

While they could have opened a bare-bones space a mere two months after signing their lease, for example, the duo instead opted to invest in design and equipment that represent their dedication to the industry. Even their wedding rings, adorned with tiny gold coffee beans, are a testament to their focus.

A rendering of a modern coffee shop.
The cafe seats 23 inside.
Soloway Coffee
A rendering of a modern coffee shop.
Design renderings emphasize a minimalistic style.
Soloway Coffee

“We are the family that always takes risks,” Artur Yuzvik says. “We make a family dinner, a family decision, we decide anything — it’s the hard way... We believe that no matter where you have your locations, people deserve quality. It’s more than a profession, it’s more than just a business. We never put income before any of those other things.”

The couple met in 2015 in their shared hometown of Ternopil, Ukraine, and by the next year, they’d founded a coffee roastery in the city. They’ve since opened two cafes in Ternopil under the name Karma Kava, where they were among the first in town to offer specialty drip brews and oversaw a dramatic leap in the country’s coffee culture overall. The cafes also developed a following for its ingredients made on-site, including flavored syrups.

“[In] Ukraine, every drink is special,” Artur Yuzvik says. “The same thing is going to happen here. For [example], pistachio paste. You can buy it anywhere, but we decided to go the hard way, buy equipment, and make it fresh.”

In addition to coffee and single-origin espresso (made with beans flown in regularly from the roastery in Ukraine), and teas from Chicago-based Spirit Tea, Soloway will serve baked goods from buzzy local carb maestro Dan the Baker. The team also promises a few sandwiches, breakfast items like oatmeal, and a station with taps for still and sparkling water. As parents of a 1-year-old, the couple is eager to make families with children feel welcome with options for those too young for the hard stuff, like a “babyccino” — steamed milk with a little bit of flavoring or cacao.

A rendering of a wooden banquette inside a minimalistic cafe space.
Mirrors add depth to the wedge-shaped cafe.
Soloway Coffee
A counter and grab-and-go case inside a cafe.
The cafe will offer grab-and-go items and baked goods from Dan the Baker.
Soloway Coffee

The 23-seat shop bears a monochromatic design that juxtaposes natural wood against textured white walls and exposed Chicago brick. When the weather cooperates, there’s an outdoor patio that could seat up to 60 and a walk-up window for quick pickup. At this point, the construction phase is complete, and the team is hoping to open its doors on Saturday, January 20, should city approvals come through as expected. The couple is raring to go, with a third Ukrainian cafe underway, and plans to expand throughout Europe and the U.S. In the next five years, they’re looking to open 10 locations, they say.

Soloway joins a growing number of new Ukrainian-owned restaurants in Chicago, including Anelya in Avondale and Lawn Burger in West Town. Running parallel to the excitement of a new Chicago cafe, however, is the ongoing war in Ukraine. The family was in the Dominican Republic when the Russian military invaded in February 2022, while Iriyna Yuzvik was five months pregnant. It’s an emotional issue, they say, but one they don’t discuss much in public.

“You have to be Ukrainian to understand what is going on,” Iriyna Yuzvik says in Ukrainian, which her husband translates into English. “We don’t wish any other nation in the world to feel what we are feeling because it’s getting worse and worse.”

“We don’t want people to feel sorry for us,” Artur Yuzvik adds. “We help the Ukrainian army and donate to kids and families, but we don’t say it in public — it’s between me and my wife. We always hope for the best. We don’t need any credit for being Ukrainians.”

Soloway Coffee, 2275 N. Lincoln Avenue, Scheduled to open in January.