A Roomy Coffee Shop Unfurls Along the Chicago River Near Goose Island

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Nick and Nicole Novotny began experimenting and roasting coffee beans at home when they lived in Akron, Ohio. A move to Chicago — to Printer’s Row — led to a further refinement of those skills and the 2015 opening of Lincoln Park’s Printer’s Row Coffee, a roastery specializing in small-batch and single-origin coffee. At 750 square feet, it didn’t take long for them to outgrow the space.

After a two-year hunt for a location, followed by an eight-month buildout, a second Printer’s Row Coffee. opened on Saturday, June 1 at 1400 N. Kingsbury Street, along a stretch that includes a massive Whole Foods and Off Color Brewing’s Mousetrap taproom

Located in a building that was once used for cold storage, the 3,000-square-foot space was a blank slate when the couple took it over. “It was just the timber ceilings and brick walls,” says Nicole. “One of the perks of starting from scratch is being able to get everything the way you want it.”

At its newest location, Printer’s Row offers a menu very similar to its original, including light to medium roasts at the range the Novotnys say drinkers can best appreciate the unique flavor notes of single-origin coffees. Syrups are made in-house with seasonal flavors augmenting the favorites. Macadamia milk stands out on the list of non-dairy alternatives available for lattes and other drinks.

Local pastry providers are featured, including Downstate Donuts. “We used to work with them years ago and they recently brought back wholesale and we are excited to have them at the new place,” says Nicole who’s a big fan of their potato doughnuts. Traditional croissants and assorted danishes are from West Town’s Brite Donuts. Additional food items could be added later, says Nicole. “We are always down to change and see what people are interested in and go from there.”

For the design of the open room, half of which is the café and the other half production, the idea was to keep as much of the space’s original character as possible. Incorporating a neutral color palette, the design elements were kept to a minimum — a few plants here, some faded rugs over there — to add more later. It’s an open space with a counter with electrical outlets, and patio seating outside along Kingsbury.

“One of the things I think is so interesting is the way our first location has changed over time with all the character that filled it over the years we’ve been there,” says Nicole. “That is something we want to do in this new space. We want it to be something we can grow into over time as well.”

Finding vintage items and refurbishing them is another passion of Nick, who does the roasting and is a pharmacist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Nicole, a graphic designer. All of Printer’s Row’s ’70s-era seats originally came from a college in Colorado but ended up in Indiana where the couple found them online before refurbishing them. The merchandise shelving also was created from vintage materials.

Unlike their first location, which only has a handful of rail seats and a small patio, the newer location has plenty of seating. In addition to the two- and four-top tables in the center of the space, there is a central seating area outfitted with vintage sofa and chairs. The six bar stools at the bar offer a front-row seat to the coffee roasting process. East- and south-facing windows and a garage door that opens provide plenty of natural light during the day. Outside, there’s a 16-seat secluded patio.

“We really wanted to be able to offer space for people to enjoy their coffee and to engage with us and build connections in that physical space,” says Nicole. “The spirit of Printer’s Row is a pretty awesome and to now have in it two places is going to be cool.”

Printer’s Row Coffee Co., 1400 N. Kingsbury Street, open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

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