After a 14-year run at 8836 Brookfield Ave., Loca Mocha Café has packed up and moved about 100 feet south.
The coffee shop christened its new space on Oct. 19, ending the Loca Mocha era on Brookfield Avenue. While the plan initially called for the Brookfield Avenue location to remain under the same ownership, that changed when Maria Verduzco’s longtime business partner Silvia Mancilla, moved to south Florida.
Mancilla discovered a space for a Deep South edition of Loca Mocha in the Port Everglades area, and the shop opened in July.
“Silvia thought it would be a while before she found something and that we’d do both [Brookfield locations], with smaller hours at the train station,” Verduzco said.
But with Mancilla away in Florida, the plan is now to operate the train station Loca Mocha seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Verduzco, is trying to expand the weekday hours until 5 p.m. in order to retain her teenage customers who came into the Brookfield avenue shop after classes at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
While a couple of prior attempts to run a coffee shop at the train station didn’t work out for others, Loca Mocha’s shop at the station is far more ambitious. All of the products the shop sold across the tracks are back, including the pastries from Kay’s Bakery in Forest Park.
There’s also an ADA-accessible bathroom that customers can use, which also invites people to linger as they did on Brookfield Avenue.
Verduzco is bringing all of the coffee shop’s furniture across the tracks to the train station (some sofas are being upholstered and should be in place soon), hoping to recreate the cozy atmosphere of the Brookfield Avenue store amid the commuters rushing to and from their trains.
Leaving the old location was difficult, Verduzco said.
“It was very emotional, because it was 14 years,” she said.
But Loca Mocha’s group of morning regulars, some of whom stay for an hour or more each morning, helped them move and then started coming into the train station starting early last week to see if the doors were open, bringing their own coffee from home just in case they weren’t.
“It’s going to be strange,” said longtime regular Larry Baron. “Loca Mocha was a warm place. It’s sad, but things change.”
Verduzco is also meeting a lot of new people who didn’t make it to the north side of the tracks before catching their trains to the Loop.
The only complaint she’s hearing from customers, Verduzco said, is that sound echoes through the station. Commuters have told her they didn’t realize just how much echo there’d be. Before the coffee shop arrived, commuters waiting inside would just look at their phones or read quietly.
Café eyed for former coffee shop
While Loca Mocha has vacated the storefront at 8836 Brookfield Ave., the space shouldn’t be vacant for long.
In early November, Gosia’s Café is expected to open in that spot, says business owner Margaret Glimco.
“It was my dream for 15 years,” said Glimco, who said the name “Gosia” is a nickname for Margaret in Polish. “In the last two years I’ve been looking around to find a good spot.”
When Glimco learned Loca Mocha was heading across the tracks, she found it. Glimco said she and Maria are friends and that her café isn’t meant to compete directly with Loca Mocha.
“I know that her regulars will probably go with her, and she’ll have the business on the south side of the tracks, which she’s never had before,” said Glimco, who added that her café will sell more than bakery food items.
Glimco said she hoped to be open Nov. 1, though the space needs to be equipped and redecorated. Signs in the window indicate Glimco is already hiring.
“I’m excited,” she said.