“We can’t wait to see people’s faces”

BEVERLY — After closing for nearly two months, a beloved South Side cafe will finally welcome waiting customers.

Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea reopens at 8 a.m. Saturday. Neighbors can visit the store at its new Beverly location, 1818 W. 99th St., for a cup of coffee, a bite to eat and live music. House music fans can stop by the cafe from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sundays for a live DJ set.

Husband and wife owners Kendall and Aisha Griffin said they were excited to “cross the finish line” and get back to business as usual. The couple closed their original location in Auburn Gresham last month and have spent the last few weeks preparing the new shop, which once housed the City Grange garden centre.

“We are delighted to be able to facilitate a fresh start and that some of our former clients are still supporting us,” said Aisha Griffin. “We are also delighted to meet new people. It’s weird being closed because that’s all we’ve been doing for the past two years. We can’t wait to see people’s faces and make them smile again.

Afro Joe’s opened in Auburn Gresham in October 2020. The store quickly became a popular destination for neighbors, serving matcha lemonades, cold beers and cheesecakes.

The owners have vowed to keep their business next door after being robbed twice in August. Neighbors flocked to the store to share their love and encouragement.

But the couple announced in March that they had to move after their landlord, who is the sister of one of the owners, refused to renew the shop’s lease. The shop’s last day at Auburn Gresham was April 10.

Despite the heartache of leaving the community, the Griffins said “everything fell into place” to open on 99th Street, a kind of homecoming for Kendall Griffin who grew up in the Beverly area.

Credit: Atavia Reed/Block Club Chicago
Owner Kendall Griffin stands outside Afro Joe’s new location, 1818 W. 99th Street.

Customers can expect the same love and energy at their Beverly store, Aisha Griffin said.

A few dishes have been removed from the menu, but a new dish has been added: the Beverly BLT. Surprise specials will be rolled out every week in June.

“We have guest chefs who are going to come and help us periodically throughout the month,” said Aisha Griffin. “Our baristas have some fun drinks up their sleeves for opening day.”

Neighbors from Auburn Gresham, Beverly and elsewhere have already stopped by to see what the cafe is up to, Aisha Griffin said. They can’t wait to “get back to it,” she says.

“We are thrilled to be able to return and hope our guests will be as proud of this space as they were of the Auburn Gresham space,” said Aisha Griffin. “We see the café as a sort of extension of our home, so that’s where we can entertain ourselves. To be able to get them back, we’re delighted.

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