Enigma Cafe aims to be ‘student hangout’

Nathalie Tadena

Matt Spector/The Daily Northwestern

With the start of a new school year, Northwestern students can find another Evanston study venue at Enigma Cafe, a new coffee shop that opened this summer.

The cafe is located on 1620 Orrington Ave. in the space previously occupied by popular student study spot, Cafe Ambrosia. Like its predecessor, Enigma Cafe staff said they hope to attract college students and offers couches, coffee, food and free Wi-Fi.

“I thought it was a good location,” owner Ted Angelo told The Daily in May . “And I thought the students needed a place to hang and do homework, use the Internet, and eat and drink coffee.”

Angelo said the atmosphere would be “kind of chill and relaxed.”

Many students who were regular Cafe Ambrosia customers were surprised when the coffee shop closed on March 22.

“I felt like a stake went through my heart when it closed,” said Weinberg sophomore Stephanie Fang, adding that she frequented the coffee shop because it was close to her South campus dorm. “I really liked the atmosphere and the people who worked there.”

Fang said she went to Cafe Ambrosia three to four times a week last year and is excited to visit the new cafe this year.

“I definitely plan on studying at Enigma,” she said. “The service better be friendly because that’s what keeps students coming back.”

Though Cafe Ambrosia shut its doors after four years due to economic pressures, local business may be on the upturn. This summer, more businesses opened than closed in Evanston, said Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce.

But Enigma Cafe, which expects a student-based clientele, did not enjoy a lucrative summer, said Enigma employee Carol Karapournos.

“School’s been out, so business has been slow,” she said. “But things were slow even before we opened.”

Many former Ambrosia customers may not have been aware a new cafe had opened in its place, which may also explain poor business in the cafe’s first few months, Karapournos said.

Construction for Enigma Cafe began in late May. The new coffee shop features a main sitting area and new furniture. The cafe’s basement floor, which provides ample seating, has also been renovated but has yet to open for customers, Karapournos said. To better accommodate students, the cafe will soon extend its business hours from 8 a.m. to midnight, though it currently closes at 8 p.m. In addition to coffee and tea drinks, Enigma Cafe’s menu also boasts smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches.

But Karapournos said she hopes the start of the quarter, which began Tuesday, will help generate business from students looking for a convenient and quiet student cafe.

“It’s supposed to be a student hangout,” she said. “I’m hoping things pick up now.”

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