Three Sisters Express Creativity ... and Espresso, Too!
Espresso Thy Art Café, owned by Rossana Reformado, Marissa McCormack and Virginia Castro, opened its doors in May in the space once occupied by Balingit Bakery. With their first summer behind them, the business is on its way. It’s a venture that would make their father, owner of Balingit Bakery, proud. Rossana, the resident artist, explained, “He wanted to retire and suggested I use the space as a gallery but I really wasn’t comfortable taking on a gallery. So we came up with the concept of a café that showcases the work of local artists. “
It seems the community has embraced the concept. Espresso Thy Art is holding its own despite being located just across the street from a rather formidable coffee competitor.
If you haven’t stopped by Espresso The Art, the environment is warm and inviting. You will find the café bustling with morning commuters or buzzing with moms and tots later in the day, yet you can always find a corner to relax. There are also local business types stopping by for lunch, and the ever-present wifi seekers with their head in a laptop.
“We really want people to feel at home. We become friends with our customers. And, it’s a great place to find out about events and happenings in the neighborhood!” says Marissa. In the warmer months the huge back patio boasts ample seating and a beautiful flower, herb and vegetable garden. It also features a playhouse popular with the youngsters. “We have customers from all over. I think they appreciate an independent, family owned business.” Marissa adds.
Take your shot, americano or latte (no drip coffee served here), and wander to the back of the space and you will find a wide array of local craftsmanship. Browse the unique photography, original paintings, jewelry, stationery and small collectibles. Now is an especially great time to visit and find something uniquely local for the holidays. Chances are you won’t find it anywhere else. The art rotates, so visit often for new inspiration.
Typically you’ll find Virginia working behind the counter and despite the tiny kitchen, they produce a variety of crepes, pastries, smoothies, teas and of course, the espresso, custom made from a special roast. “Depending on the season you’ll see some changes in the menu but we try to focus on the freshest, seasonal ingredients and start creating from there.” For those of you missing the Ensaymada, the Filipino pastry that made Balingit Bakery famous, the sisters have the secret family recipe and they’re not afraid to use it.
Always a good Northcenter neighbor, Espresso Thy Art has hosts a number of events including the recent Chicago Firefighter Calendar Preview benefiting the Ignite the Spirit Fund. The space is available for gatherings of all kinds. Giving back to the Northcenter community is an important aspect of the business. The sisters grew up here and are now raising their own families in the area. Visit www.espressotheyart.blogspot.com for the latest on events and happenings at the cafe.
Creative expression comes in many forms at Espresso Thy Art Café. Whether the art is on the wall, on the plate, or in a demitasse, it’s a comforting presence in Northcenter.
- John Belmont, contributing writer and Northcenter resident
Espresso Thy Art Café is located at 4019 N. Damen, (773) 248-1935