This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Andy Peters, owner of TrueNorth Café an independent, healthy cafe that serves top-notch coffee & tea, proper eats, and blended drinks in a serene and community space where everyone is welcome at 5507 N Clark.
“Before I opened, I heard the phrase, ‘start before you’re ready’ and you have to do that, but looking back at it, it’s shocking how unready you are when you start.”
– Andy Peters
Listen to Episode 64 with Andy Peters!
Here are some references from Episode 64 that you may want to check out:
- Andy has always been entrepreneurial – even as a kid. This desire led him to study economics in college, and after working in an office out of college, he jumped on the opportunity to start a business instead of continuing office work.
- Andy opened the Andersonville location of TrueNorth in 2016, but moved to Chicago in 2013. He is originally from Berwyn, IL.
- The concept of the store was very focused at the beginning, only offering a small menu including salads and wraps. Over time that has expanded, and now Andy jokes it’s a smoothie shop disguised as a coffee shop. View the current menu here.
- The original name for the café was ProGo (Protein Chicago), which was softly received by friends and family, but outright rejected by Larry Vodak of Scout (5221 N Clark), who eventually helped Andy design the café. Instead, he started thinking of map and explorer names and landed on TrueNorth, which was fitting, considering the café already had several of the globes in place as decor.
- The menu is always changing with the seasons, however there’s often no big reason for the change, other then it accommodating what Andy feels like serving. This summer you can look forward to more prominent iced teas and cold brew smoothies.
- A typical day for Andy starts in a state of horror, as he often already has texts or calls of things going wrong in his shops. After dealing with those, he makes lists of what needs to get done and gets to work.
- Andy started the Andersonville cafe’s design by himself, but he knew that “Andersonville was a hard place to please design wise.” Andy kept finding himself shopping at Scout, and after trying to purchase a Remington table for the space, he was told be Larry that he was “designing it all wrong,” and walked up to the space to see what was what. Larry is responsible for finding the big wooden Harvest table (perfect for meetings!) in the back of TrueNorth and restoring it.
- As well as having a great menu, TrueNorth is also a great place for hosting private or community events, and they also offer different types of catering. View the catering menu here.
- Opening their second location in Hyde Park came with a different set of issues then their first in Andersonville, but it was much easier as they didn’t need to create a menu and already knew how to do things, like ordering food in bulk.
- TrueNorth also offers things like vitamins and protein powders, which has evolved along with the restaurant. They price these to beat Amazon’s price, to ensure you’re getting a great deal.
- They’re also starting to incorporate CBD oil into some of their coffee drinks and smoothies, as well as selling bottles.
- Andy talks about his experience on the The Chicago Mayoral Business Council and how it helped that he had experience working with for the city before, as well as the Illinois restaurant association before opening the café. He’s seen improvement on licensing issues, and is proud of those results.
- As to his own coffee and tea habits, Andy explains he drinks mostly black coffee or plain espresso drinks. Although he always has a coffee cup with him, he drinks it slowly throughout the day, so he doesn’t end up drinking too much of it.
- The coffee he sells at the café is Metropolis Coffee. He discovered it’s deliciousness first at a diner in Lincoln Park, Jam’n Honey, and later discovered it too used to headquarter in Andersonville, making it the best of both worlds.
- Many of TrueNorth’s other ingredients also come from places in Andersonville, as they try to shop local and support the other business of Andersonville, like Edgewater Produce and Phoenix Bean.
- If able to trade places with an Andersonville business for a day, Andy would pick something that he could curate, like Transistor (5224 N Clark), or somewhere that their product wouldn’t go bad, like Brownstone (5234 N Clark) . He definitely wouldn’t want to swap with a restaurant, claiming that a café is hard enough.