Four women have teamed up to open a new specialty coffee and tea shop in the space that once housed Grumpy’s at the Arcade Building, 1 Riverside Road in downtown Riverside.
Urban Leaf and Bean Café could open as soon as Christmas, co-owner Valerie Presto told the Landmark. Building contractors are in the process of applying for permits to commence the build-out of the shop, she said.
The shop will sell coffee made from beans roasted in small batches every couple of days, teas hand-blended by Presto herself, and smoothies. In addition, the shop will sell deli sandwiches and pastries made by the women themselves, said Presto.
“We want to go back to the nice mom-and-pop ways, where customers can be comfortable,” said Presto. At places like Starbucks you’re just a number. Here we’re friends and family.”
Coffee beans from Hawaii will be roasted by staff every few days, said Presto, because that’s the way to serve it at its freshest.
“After three days, coffee starts to lose its flavor, so every three days we’ll start making a new batch,” Presto said.
Presto, a former Berwyn resident who lives in Chicago, is joined in the venture by her daughter, Christina, a Forest Park resident; her friend, Dannette Massarello, of Brookfield; and Yvonne Agnello-Adams, a Lombard resident who has been active for many years with the Brookfield Jaycees.
According to Presto, the other women are the bakers, although everyone will chip in on the various parts of the operation. Presto’s specialty is blending tea, something she says she’s been doing for the past three years. Her organic tea ingredients come from an Oregon-based grower.
In designing the interior of the shop, Presto said the plan was to let the building’s historic character shine through. The walls will feature exposed brick and, of course, the windows will retain their stained glass. Presto said they initially hoped to keep the original 1871-era ceiling, but its condition was just too far gone.
She’s had her eye on the site for a while.
“I’ve been going past there for years,” she said. “I love Riverside and think it’s a wonderful family, quaint little town. I saw them doing the tuck-pointing [last fall] and envisioned this spot for what we wanted to do.”
Urban Leaf and Bean was incorporated on Nov. 18, according to Illinois Secretary of State records. Plans are in the works for a website.
Presto and others were on hand to meet future customers outside their future home at the corner of Riverside Road and East Quincy Street at Friday night’s Holiday Stroll in downtown Riverside.
“We want to meet the town,” Presto said.
The opening of the coffee shop would be the second business to open up on the ground floor of the historic Arcade Building, which was purchased from a Minnesota bank by Giuseppe Zappani, a suburban roofing contractor, in August 2010.
In addition to the ground-floor businesses, there are three office tenants on the second floor of the building.
Roadblock for pop-up pizza stand
Meanwhile, a third potential ground-floor business for the Arcade building – a pop-up pizza vendor – will not be opening for the time being after the Cook County Health Department nixed the plan.
Primo Pizza and Catering, which was a hit with residents this summer at the Riverside Farmers Market, approached the village about opening a pop-up business, one that would be open just a day or two each week in one of the vacant storefronts of the Arcade Building on East Quincy Street.
The plan was to rent space inside and to have the brick pizza oven outside. But with the interior space unfinished, the plan did not pass muster with the Cook County Health Department, which does all restaurant inspections for the village, said Village Manager Peter Scalera, who is still working with Primo Pizza on the pop-up concept.
If they can get the Arcade Building space in a condition acceptable to the health department, Primo could be open there in the spring. Scalera said the business has also not ruled out other spaces in Riverside, such as the vacant storefront next to Arcade Jewelers or the former home of Mi Casita Restaurant on East Burlington Street.