New Kafein owner considers expanding hours, food options

People sit at a table at Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave. New ownership at the cafe has tentative plans to add morning hours and a full menu.

Daily file photo by Ben Breuner

People sit at a table at Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave. New ownership at the cafe has tentative plans to add morning hours and a full menu.

Elena Sucharetza, Assistant City Editor

The newest owner of Evanston cafe Kafein has tentative plans to expand the business by adding morning hours and a more extensive food menu.

Peter Abraham took over the property in mid-August when the previous owner sold the cafe, said Paul Zalmezak, an Evanston economic development coordinator. Abraham is one of three owners to take over Kafein in the past four years, Zalmezak said.

Abraham said he bought Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave., thinking it would be a good investment given the popularity of the cafe among Northwestern students and the Evanston community. Although Abraham said he considers Kafein’s late-night hours to be the “bread and butter” of the establishment, he will likely attempt to open the cafe five to six hours in the morning, starting at 6 or 7 a.m. The cafe is currently open from noon to midnight on weekdays and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

A longer-term goal for Kafein includes operating the cafe as a restaurant, incorporating a full-service kitchen and offering a more extensive menu, Abraham said. Kafein currently serves soups and sandwiches, but Abraham said he hopes to both enhance the quality of these items and add more full meals to the menu.  

“We serve food now — but just soups and sandwiches — and I’ve worked on making that good-quality, wholesome food,” Abraham said. “If we were to open the kitchen, I would definitely open it in the morning as well. That would be a tall order, but it would be somewhat profitable.”

Zalmezak said the recent change of ownership was based on a personal business decision, and the frequency of changes to Kafein’s ownership does not reflect bad business practices.

“I don’t think the change in ownership reflects anything with the business model,” Zalmezak said. “(Kafein) did a decent business. They have good hours for students and studiers.”

In taking over the cafe, Abraham said he does not have any plans to make changes to the open mic nights Kafein is known for and encourages people to continue to attend on Monday nights.

“Open mic is not just playing instruments,” Abraham said. “It’s also poetry and it’s also anything that’s on your mind that you want to get out there.”

Any major changes to the cafe would take place in the next 12 to 18 months, Abraham said.

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Twitter: @elenasucharetza