#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 41 with Al Liu of Colectivo Coffee

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Al Liu, vice president of coffee at Colectivo Coffee, located at 5425 N. Clark St. Colectivo is a Milwaukee-based coffee company that recently opened its largest cafe in Chicago yet. Colectivo Coffee provides house made coffee, tea, seasonal drinks, breakfast items and more to patrons. Colectivo is well-known for its bold designs and customizable approaches to its spaces.


Al Liu recording in Studio C at Transistor.

“Andersonville just based on my experience here really is the kind of neighborhood we like to be in, but is a great fit for our culture and our brand: very neighborhood oriented.”
– Al Liu

Listen to Episode 41 with Al Liu!

Here are some references from Episode 41 that you may want to check out:

  • Al is a Milwaukee native but he has lived around the country and in other countries as well. He started with Colectivo in 2000 and worked there for seven years as the Director of Culture and Communications when the company was called Alterra. In early 2008, Al moved to Seattle to work for Specialty Coffee Importer, Atlas. He did that for over eight years, then moved back to Milwaukee about 2.5 years ago to take on the role of Vice President of Coffee.
  • Al’s interests in coffee originated after serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia. He visited a friend who was working in coffee also in the Corps in Bolivia in 1999. Al got to see coffee getting picked and processed, and the rest is history.
  • Al’s main responsibility as a Vice President of Coffee is to actually buy the coffees that Colectivo roasts and sells. Most of their coffee comes from Latin America, namely Mexico, Peru and Brazil. The largest origin for Colectivo Coffee is in Indonesia in Sumatra, which is fair-trade and organic.
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Al with Roberto Salazar, the general manager of the Fair Trade cooperative Cooperativa Cafetalera La Labor Ocotepeque Limitada (COCAFELOL) in southwestern Honduras. He visited COCAFELOL and two other co-ops from which Colectivo sources last March, and in this photo you can see the ripe coffee cherries that he picked.


  • Colectivo Coffee has an extensive team working to coach employees on barista technique and new drink cultivation. For example, the grapefruit espresso drink was a part of their new cold-drink menu upon opening in late summer. View their cafe and food menu here.
Outside of Andersonville Colectivo

The Colectivo Andersonville location.

  • There are 13 Colectivo storefronts in the Milwaukee area and four locations so far in Chicago. Colectivo works with existing structures when it comes to designing their cafes. At their location at Clark and Rascher in Andersonville, the original “Cream City” bricks are used, which is a popular material in Wisconsin too. View all cafes here.
  • Al considers cafes to be ‘third spaces,’ or basically spaces where people can be comfortable, but not at home and not at work.
  • Colectivo was founded in 1993 by three men, Ward Fowler, his brother Lincoln Fowler and Paul Miller. The two brothers had a high-end speaker cabinet business and Paul had a business selling Milwaukee-themed clothing items and sheepskin lined slippers. The two businesses shared storage space in the same warehouse. They began talking to each other about how good coffee was hard to find in Milwaukee, so they made a plan and one year later opened the first retail Colectivo space in Milwaukee. Learn more here.  
  • By the time Al joined Colectivo in 2000, they had four stores. The main flagship store was where the roasting and packing happened. In 2002, Colectivo expanded to a lakefront location in Milwaukee in a building called The Pumping Station. The store in Andersonville is the 19th store.
Colectivo Graphic Bus

Colectivo gets it’s name from the “Colectivo” or bus found in Southern Mexico.

  • The name Colectivo is taken from the artful and funky buses used for transportation in Southern Mexico. “Anyone and everyone can join us on a coffee journey…anyone can get on the bus, so to speak, and have a coffee experience.”  The owners used this name because they also wanted to nod to the far-away regions in which these coffee beans originate.
  • Colectivo does not import coffee directly, but uses the services of green importers around the world. Some coffees are featured year-round, while smaller origins are highlighted for sometimes only a few months.
  • January, February and March are busier travel times for Al, as he visits locations like East Africa, Mexico and Central America with their different grow seasons.
  • Al says the most valuable thing he has learned working in coffee is the power of the human connection.
  • The Colectivo creative director, Kevin Callahan, is responsible for the artwork and creative designs you see on their merchandise. He has a studio art degree from the University of Milwaukee, and he used to draw everything by hand.
  • Al does credit Starbucks for pathing the way to specialty coffee in the Midwest, their first market outside of the Pacific Northwest. Al expects to see coffee markets pop up in developing countries and countries that typically haven’t seen specialty coffee consumption. Climate change is affecting coffee producers all over the world.
  • Al drinks his coffee black and had to train himself to do that. He likes to taste the unique characteristics of each coffee. Al likes his coffee via french press or coffee that’s brewed on a batch machine with a filter. The Chemex method he likes to use on occasion, as it recreates the pour-over method.  Al thinks he could even do a blind taste test!
  • If Al could trade places with any other business in the Andersonville neighborhood, he would trade with Reza’s, (5255 N Clark) because he loves the cuisine and the complex flavor profiles.
Latte Art Colectivo

Don’t miss Colectivo’s upcoming Latte Art Throwdown on Thursday, January 17!

Visit Colectivo Coffee on the following platforms:
Online: colectivocoffee.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ColectivoAndersonville
Instagram: @colectivocoffee
Twitter: @colectivocoffee

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 40 with Alderman Patrick O’Connor of the 40th Ward

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Alderman Patrick O’Connor. Elected in 1983, Alderman O’Connor has represented the residents of the north side of Chicago since the age of 28. As a lifelong Chicagoan, he has worked tirelessly over the years to serve the community and better the lives of his constituents. On the 40th Ward website it reads, “There’s no more local government than an aldermanic public servant, you are in and among your constituents. You live there, you grew up there, you see the people you serve every day and you feel honored to do your best for everyone.”


40th Ward Alderman O’Connor is this week’s guest on the podcast for our 40th episode!

“A neighborhood is not just a place that you live, it’s a place that you make livable.”
– Alderman O’Connor.

Listen to Episode 40 with 40th Ward Alderman, Patrick O’Connor!

Here are some references from Episode 40 that you may want to check out:

    • Alderman O’Connor is a lifelong resident of Chicago. He grew up on the north side and has five siblings, three of which still live five blocks from his house. His mom lived close as well until she passed away in the summer of 2018. He met his wife in grammar school and raised his own five children here, and they all live within a half mile of him.
    • He graduated from Mather High School and attended Loyola University for college and law school. He always wanted to be an attorney. When he decided to run for public office, he couldn’t think of a better place to be then the place he had known all his life

Alderman O’Connor speaks during the Andersonville for Equality Rally during Midsommarfest in 2017.

  • When Alderman O’Connor first started representing Andersonville, there was a Methadone clinic on Clark Street and he comments on how much the business population has changed over the years. Andersonville has gone from an area on the cusp to, if you look at Redfin, one of the top 10 places in the country to live. According to Alderman O’Connor, Andersonville has a good mix of new and long-time residents.
  • According to Alderman O’Connor, in Andersonville, the housing stock is great, schools are doing well and the business District is thriving. Andersonville has hit its stride and Alderman O’Connor thinks the biggest issue the neighborhood is now facing is trying to control the cost of being here, so folks can continue to be here. He believes in advocating for small business owners, and there are nearly 300 in Andersonville alone.
Copy of Transit Tees

Transit Tees Grand Opening in July 2017.

“Independent business are the hallmark of the district and I do my best to maintain the character of the neighborhood by working with the Chamber, landlords and the City of Chicago.”
– Alderman O’Connor

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Lost Larson Grand Opening in June 2018.

    • Alderman O’Connor served as the Chair on the Committee of Education Development for 20 years and was instrumental in bringing Northside College Preparatory School to the north side along with the Board of Education and Mayor Daley.  Northside College Prep was the first high school in over 20 years that was built on the north side. There was a need to create an option for residents so that they didn’t move from the neighborhood when looking for a good high school for their children.
    • Local schools in the 40th and 48th Ward have become “schools of choice” in this area, and Alderman O’Connor emphasizes the importance of capital improvements in schools. He referenced Amundsen High School at Lawrence and Damen. Enrollment at Amundsen High School is going up and “the principle there is a dynamo.” Alderman O’Connor says great school needs strong leadership and financial help from the City.

Alderman Harry Osterman (left) and Alderman O’Connor at the Aldermanic lunch in 2017.

  • The job of an Alderman has two parts: the first is to serve as the steward of the City’s services for the community and to obtain what is needed to maintain a quality of life that is acceptable and achievable for that community. The second role is to help inform and pass on public policy that relates to the entire City directly to the area constituents.
  • Alderman O’Connor also Chairs the Workforce Development Committee. This committee is responsible for maintaining fair labor standards. On the day the podcast was recorded, the Committee passed a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Local and earlier this year increased minimum wage and passed an ordinance for earned sick time.

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    Alderman O’Connor attended the Gus Giordano Dance School 65th Anniversary celebration earlier this year with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and school owner, Amy Giordano (second from right).

  • Alderman’s O’Connor helped build the West Ridge Nature Preserve which saved 20 acres of land from being developed. There is a lake in the park that is stocked with fish where people can catch Bluegills and Sunfish. Alderman O’Connor has a soft spot for the location, as he grew up a block west of Rosehill Cemetery and played by the lake when he was a kid. In the future they are looking to add a Natural Playground and Alderman O’Connor encourages everyone in the neighborhood to at least walk through it once. It is filled with incredible wildlife, like deer with full racks of horn. Check out the video here!
  • When asked to give advice for upcoming politicians, the Alderman mentions using modern technology as a communicative tool and not as a weapon saying, “When you weaponize those technologies, you take away their effectiveness.”
  • If Huey’s were still around, Alderman O’Connor would work there as he has always wanted to own a hot dog stand. Huey’s was a former business at 1507 W. Balmoral and beloved by many. It closed in 2014. If he ever wins the lottery, Alderman O’Connor is going to teach history and own a hot dog stand.
  • If given the chance to swap places with and Andersonville business, today he would choose to work at Replay Andersonville (5358 N. Clark) because he loves old video games. He wouldn’t make any money, but he would get better and better at those games.

Visit Alderman O’Connor and the 40th Ward on the following platforms:
Online: aldermanoconnor.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AldermanPatrickOConnor
Twitter: @40thWard
YouTube: AldermanOConnor

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Andersonville

NYE Photo


December 31, 2018 & January 1, 2019

Andies Restaurant
New Year’s Eve buffet: 6-10PM – $25.95  per person with Champagne included
New Year’s Day buffet: 11AM-8PM – $25.95  per person with Champagne included.

Bar Roma
New Year’s Eve: Seatings between 5-9PM with special dinner selections. View menu

Big Jones
New Year’s Eve Brunch: 9AM-3PM
New Year’s Eve Prix Fixe: 5-10PM

Fireside Restaurant
New Year’s Eve Bash: Drink packages from 10PM-1AM. Open until 5AM
New Year’s Day Brunch: 10am-3pm

Hamburger Mary’s
New Year’s Eve: 10th Anniversary and NYE Party – 8PM
Featuring the Blue Wave reCount down: “It’s not a political statement, we swear! Never mind that the Dem’s “blue wave” was the big story of 2018. Coincidence! We just wanna see everyone in their most dashing and/or elegant blue attire, sipping on Beto-Cocktails (Tito’s and blue Red Bull) and toasting the midnight (re)countdown!”

Lady Gregory’s
New Year’s Eve: NYE Party – 5pm
No cover, with DJ, party favors, Champagne toast
New Year’s Day:  80’s themed brunch: 10AM-2PM

Replay Andersonville/Elixir
New Year’s Day Brunch:

Vincent Restaurant
New Year’s Eve: Multiple Seatings
Purchase tickets in advance here 

5PM: Early to Bed Seating – $50 per person
4 course Chef’s Menu(Wine Pairings Additional) and special kids “half midnight” celebration
7PM : Just Our First Stop Seating – $75 per person
5 course Chef’s Menu (Wine Pairings Additional)
9:30PM: Kissing Vincent Seating – $85 per person
5 course Chef’s Menu (Wine Pairings Additional) with Midnight Champagne Celebration+

New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch – 11AM-3PM:
Chilaquiles Buffet with Bloody Mary Bar and Champagne Cocktails

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 39 with Scott Martin of Simon’s & SVEA

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Scott Martin owner of SVEA Restaurant at 5236 N. Clark and Simon’s Tavern at 5210 N. Clark. Since the Depression, Simon’s has anchored Clark Street just north of Foster and Scott has been an anchor of this community. His love for this neighborhood is effusive. You can see Scott walking his dog, greeting patrons at the restaurant and bar, waving hello off the rooftop connected to his apartment above Tilly’s or dressed up as a Viking multiple times a year, most famously during Midsommarfest.    


Scott Martin (right) in Transistor’s Studio C with podcast sound engineer Andy Miles.

“I’m lucky…I hope I never leave this neighborhood.”
– Scott Martin

Listen to Episode 39 with Scott!

Here are some references from Episode 39 that you may want to check out:

  • Scott kicks us off during this episode throwing it back to his memories of skating at Rainbo Ice Arena on Clark Street and growing up in his mother’s house. His mother was a secretary at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. His favorite memory is riding the WGN float at nine-years old with Ray Rayner and Chauncey the Duck!
  • SVEA means “Mother of Sweden.” The prior owner was Andersonville’s Kurt Mathiasson. Learn more about Kurt here. The restaurant has been called SVEA since the 1920s!

Scott inside of SVEA as shot for the 2018-19 Neighborhood Guide.

  • Scott’s favorite menu item at SVEA is the pickled herring, but he also mentions Lutefisk as a choice during the holidays. While not a super popular fish, Lutefisk was soaked in water to preserve the fish in Viking days. He also details the lineup for The Viking Breakfast which includes Swedish sausage, eggs, potatoes, toast, and Swedish Pancakes, and mentions SVEA’s delicious cheeseburger, a Swedish Meatball pressed between the bun. 

“Our cheeseburgers rule!”
– Scott Martin


The speakeasy door in the basement of Simon’s Tavern.

  • Simon’s was opened by Simon Lundberg in 1934. It’s the 4th oldest bar in Chicago and served as another meeting point for many of the parishioners of Ebenezer Lutheran. The basement of Simon’s is an old speakeasy! Scott talks about the door with the peephole in the basement. Check out a recent write-up on Simon’s in Umgås Magazine.

The wooden bar at Simon’s was built to look like that of a luxury ship’s.

  • The wood bar in Simon’s was designed to look like the bar of a luxury ship, as many patrons of Simon’s in the early days would never have been able to afford a trip on the boat.
  • Simon Lundburg also built a bank window (which you can still see today!) in Simon’s Tavern. Many people weren’t trusting of the banks post-recession, and Simon offered workers no fee when cashing their check, plus a free sandwich!

“I understood the privilege of owning the bar because it’s a really cool place, but the responsibility of owning this place has kept me sane.”
– Scott Martin

  • Most of the time when you visit Simon’s, you’ll notice that Scott likes to play Turner Classic Movies on the TVs. Anything else is just bad art.
  • The Swedish Glögg is a popular favorite, both hot and cold, at Simon’s! What’s in Glögg? Scott gives us a rundown on his ingredients, but he also talks about the tradition of wishing on the Pepparkakor cookie. Learn about the origins of Glögg here.

Tom and Scott Martin.

  • Scott and his father, Tom Martin, were recently honored for their contributions to the community at this year’s Swedish American Museum gala.
  • Many of the places that Scott wishes he could change places with for a day in Andersonville include the old delis Erikson’s and Wikstrom’s, and of course the old Swedish-owned bakeries. But in current day, he’d like to switch with Transistor (5224 N. Clark) and Calo Ristorante (5343 N. Clark).
  • In reminiscing about old Andersonville businesses Scott mentions that where Little Bad Wolf (1541 W. Bryn Mawr) is now, used to be an archery bar! The Calo Theatre, where Brown Elephant (5404 N. Clark) is now, used to be a bowling alley. Scott also mentions the Sip & Straw as the go-to ice cream place, so he’s glad George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N. Clark) is here now at least!

Scott dressed in his Viking attire during the 2017 install of the replica Water Tower.

“I’ve had nothing but a blast.”
– Scott Martin

Visit Simon’s Tavern and SVEA Restaurant on the following platforms:
Facebook: SVEA | Simon’s Tavern 

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 28 with Amanda Norcross of Norcross and Scott

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Amanda Norcross co-owner and shopkeeper of Norcross and Scott located at 1476 W. Berwyn. Inside the shop, you’ll find a an array of home goods, furniture and art including wire baskets from Bend Goods and slip cast porcelain objects by local artist and resident Laura Novy. Norcross and Scott also specializes in full service residential interior design, striving to create spaces which are well edited, thoughtfully designed, beautiful and functional. Visit Amanda and her team this week during Late Night Andersonville on December 7 and throughout the season.


(from left) Amanda Norcross with Joelle and Laura in Studio C of Transistor.

“The business owners in Andersonville approach their businesses with a level of passion and care and enthusiasm that resonates for us and makes us proud to be a member of this larger group of people doing very interesting things.”
– Amanda Norcross

Listen to Episode 38 with Amanda!

Here are some references from Episode 38 you may want to check out:

  • Amanda is originally from Petoskey, Michigan on Traverse Bay. She went to undergraduate school for Arts History in Colorado, and then came to Chicago in 1998 for her Masters in Architectural Preservation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Norcross and Scott opened in 2015. Amanda remembers opening in March on a 70 degree day. The storefront is filled with new and unusual items that also have a level of singularity to them, making the items unique to Norcross and Scott and not easy to find elsewhere in Chicago. View the online shop here.

Amanda helps customers at the storefront during Small Business Saturday 2018.

  • A big part of Norcross and Scott is their design arm. The first step to any new design relationship is meeting with the client in the space that is going to be reworked. With renovation, Amanda and her business partner Scott sit down with their draftswoman first to go over details. Check out featured design projects by Norcross and Scott.
Worthen Master Bdrm

Room designed by Norcross and Scott.

  • So far, Amanda’s favorite project of 2018 was redesigning a space for an older couple in the Museum Campus park south of the City overlooking the lake and the Field Museum. Amanda and her team were able to purchase all new furniture, lighting, wallpaper and more.
Museum Campus House Bathroom

A sneak peek of the bathroom at the work-in-progress at the “Museum Campus” home.

“What makes a dream project dreamy is when you have a client that trusts your vision and allows you to make suggestions that perhaps are outside their comfort zone.”
-Amanda Norcross

  • Products by Bend Goods out of California have been some of the best sellers for Norcross and Scott since opening, and Amanda attributes this to the clean lines found in their designs.
  • Amanda is inspired by product designers who are doing work on a very small scale, made by hand, and lasting for a lifetime. For example, Amanda references a lighting company called Allied Maker in New York. She also speaks to the furniture being created with wood and meta, and the work of Danish designer, Valentin Loellmann.
  • Amanda and her family love to travel. She sometimes will take her daughter on work trips or to help at the Architectural Digest Design Show in NYC. She also spends a good amount of time cheering on her son at basketball games doing the “Dab” move (until her son told her not to!) and Joelle mentions the “Floss” dance. (If we lost you here, we provided some helpful links!)  
  • Nocross and Scott’s social media, particularly their Instagram page, tries to show the different aspects of the job: design in progress, on location, and the storefront.
  • If given the opportunity to trade places with another business in Andersonville, Amanda would switch with lead bartender Brian Riester from Vincent (1475 W. Balmoral) in order to know how to make delicious cocktails and how to make everyone happy after work!
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Amanda and co-owner Scott Paterek.

“What is most fulfilling about our job is when we deliver something that alters people’s experience of their space. It has happened a couple of times, and it is magic. That is a good day that lasts a long long time.”
– Amanda Norcross

Visit Norcross and Scott on these platforms:
Online: norcrossandscott.com
Facebook: facebook.com/norcrossandscott
Instagram: @norcrossandscott
Twitter: @Norcross_Scott

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 37 with Lee Corrina Cano and Miguel Cano of The Coffee Studio

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Lee Corrina Cano and Miguel Cano owners of The Coffee Studio located at 5628 N. Clark. The Coffee Studio is a modern, independent espresso bar focused on expertly crafting delicious drinks and their mission is to create authentic, warm, comfortable experiences that make high-quality coffees and teas more approachable and accessible for everyone.

TCS owners Lee and Miguel Crop

Lee and Miguel in The Coffee Studio. Photo by Heidi Liddle.

“We love our neighborhood. We love our community. We love our store, our customers, our staff, and giving that up to try and open elsewhere has never been a priority for us.”
– Lee Corrina Cano

Listen to Episode 37 with Lee and Miguel!

Here are some references from Episode 27 that you may want to check out:

  • Lee and Miguel meet in graduate school at the IIT Institute of Design. Both have a background in design, and while they originally opened a design business together, they were interested instead in creating a business that was “bigger than themselves.”
  • Miguel grew up in Albany Park and his family owned an auto parts store, so he learned about small business operation from a young age.  
  • Prior to The Coffee Studio’s inception, Lee was taking classes at The French Pastry School and anticipating opening a chocolate shop called “The Chocolate Experiment” in which customers could design their own bar; however, both Lee and Miguel were also exploring craft coffee in Chicago at this point. For research, they started visiting Intelligentsia Coffee to learn the process, and ultimately decided they could create their own gourmet coffee experience for Chicago.
  • Lee and Miguel traveled to Seattle, Portland, and visited trade shows in preparation to opening. They immersed themselves in the “third wave of coffee,” and wanted to bring to Chicago high quality coffee without the high price tag.
  • The Coffee Studio is designed to invite conversation at their counter; it was designed with lower counters and put the espresso machine on a stage. Good design is timeless and elegant. New customers walk into The Coffee Studio today and think the design looks as if it could have been built this year.
  • The Coffee Studio has been open 11 years, but Lee and Miguel have lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. Where The Coffee Studio is now used to an abandoned laundromat. Even though The Coffee Studio celebrated 10 years last year, Lee still feels “like a scrappy startup.” The business is a constantly morphing organism. The menu has changed to include flatbreads, craft beers and wines, and craft coffee or tea cocktails. They also make their own ice cream at The Coffee Studio! View the full menu here.

One of The Coffee Studio’s made to order flatbreads.

  • In 2009, The Coffee Studio received a nod from Time Out Chicago’s Eat Out Awards for the “Proof that Evolution Exists” category. This was proof, in a way, that Lee and Miguel were doing something with coffee that was on the forefront of third wave coffee in Chicago.
  • Now, there are more independent coffee shops than ever in Chicago. There are also more chains, but now they look a little different. To maintain an “old school mom and pop shop” feel, Lee and Miguel hire locally and try to keep as much money circulating in the neighborhood as possible. For example, they treat their employees to gift cards from other neighborhood businesses for birthdays and anniversaries.
Coffee Studio_DSC_0223

One of The Coffee Studio’s barista’s prepping a Nitro Caramel Latte for the 2018 Sweetish Stroll.

  • Originally, Lee and Miguel imagined opening more than one location, but they reconsidered when thinking about only “growing for growth’s sake.” They want to make sure to keep The Coffee Studio at a sustainable size.
  • Miguel continues to do design work from home, but enjoys stopping by The Coffee Studio for the community interaction. He loves seeing the regulars there on a daily basis.
  • Lee appreciates how lucky they have been since opening with press opportunities and mentions a write-up in Bon Appetit Magazine in which they were named one of the Top 10 Boutique Coffee Shops in the country. Even recently, Food & Wine Magazine released Chef Iliana Regan’s Guide to Chicago, in which she mentions her love of The Coffee Studio. Writer Heidi Liddle captured the essence of The Coffee Studio in her recent essay as well. Read here.
  • Miguel advises young entrepreneurs to still remain frugal while following their passions. Lee also encourages “understanding the math” behind the business. They have even coached their staff on how best to set a budget, save money, and think conservatively.  
  • Both Lee and Miguel take their coffee black! But, The Coffee Studio does make their own syrups and sweet creations. “We want to meet people where they are.”  They will offer an excellent Cortado for the serious coffee drinks, but also offer a peppermint hot chocolate and other sweet creations for those with a different palette.
  • If allowed to trade places with another Andersonville business for a day, Lee first mentions Gethsemane Garden Center (5739 N. Clark) to be surrounded by plants all day, but would ultimately pick Norcross and Scott (1476 W. Berwyn). Miguel would love to switch places with Little Bad Wolf (1541 W. Bryn Mawr) because he loves music and appreciates their edgy environment. Miguel’s top playlist song would be Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On, and he’s even added it to some of playlists at The Coffee Studio! The music there is rotated daily.

Then: Miguel and Lee prep Mocha Mouse for the 2008 Andersonville Dessert Crawl.

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Now: Miguel and Lee outside of The Coffee Studio. Photo by Heidi Liddle.

Visit The Coffee Studio on these platforms:
Online: thecoffeestudio.com
Facebook: facebook.com/TheCoffeeStudioAndersonville
Instagram: @thecoffeestudio
Twitter: @thecoffeestudio

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 36 with Tim Gillengerten of Transit Tees

This week, we launch our holiday greetings from Andersonville! Plus, Laura, Sara, and Joelle do a roundup of all the great events this season, including this week’s Small Business Saturday and the return of the Holiday Trolley. View our Holiday Events calendar here.

Then, Laura and Joelle are joined by Tim Gillengerten, owner of Transit Tees, a Chicago themed merchandise store founded in 2001. With two locations in Wicker Park at 1371 N Milwaukee and here in Andersonville at 5226 N Clark, Transit Tees takes visuals from Chicago’s metropolitan landscapes and transforms them into fashionable artwork, clothing, magnets, housewares and more.


(from left) Shop keeper Chris and Tim at the front counter of Transit Tees Andersonville.

“The good thing is, I wake up everyday thinking about what I want to create, and what I want to make that day. I’m really excited to come to work every day.”
– Tim Gillengerten

Listen to Episode 36 with Tim Gillengerten!

Here are some references from Episode 36 that you may want to check out:

  • Tim grew up in Michigan but has lived in Chicago for 35 years. He used to oversee the Kraft Foods account in the Midwest and worked downtown a lot, having to ride the train daily. After being involved with the corporate world for a significant portion of his career, Tim said he needed a little more creativity in his life. He left his design firm in 2000 and opened Transit Tees in Wicker Park in 2001.
  • The first work of art Tim created involved combining all of the ‘inspected by’ labels from his travels over the years from various countries; he put them all together as a graphic on a t-shirt. The shirt was noticed by the Associate Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, who connected with Tim about selling it in the MCA store.
Made In Chicago Clothing

T-shirts in the Andersonville shop.

  • His next project included a line of neighborhood tees, which used redesigned and re-structured CTA map logo decks as the shirt designs. This type of work eventually landed Transit Tees a contract with the CTA as their official manufacturer.  Transit Tees are available for purchase here.
  • The Transit Tees store opened in Andersonville in July 2017. Prior, Transit Tees sold out of Andersonville Galleria (5247 N. Clark) and at local festivals like Midsommarfest. Tim recommends that if you have any products or art that you are looking to test out a market, places like street fests and the Galleria are perfect to refine product offerings.
  • Tim and Transit Tees has been working in Andersonville for over 10 years in other capacities as well. They helped design logos for Cheetah Gym (5248 N.Clark), Anteprima (5316 N. Clark ),  m. Henry (5707 N. Clark ), and other signature Andersonville businesses.
Chris making buttons

Chris is captured making buttons during a visit to the shop.

  • Tim’s favorite part about being the owner of a small locally-owned business is the everyday challenges he has to face. He loves the creative side of the business, but much of that work is delegated to other staff members. However, the is a huge reward in seeing his staff come up with an idea, and later sell the final product.
  • Laura references Episode 24 of the podcast with Todd Mack and how his employees also take an active creative roll in the shop. Tim understands that their at a big advantage when it comes to young employees helping to cultivate the creative direction of the business.
Aville Buttons

Andersonville buttons available at Transit Tees.

  • Tim estimates that 95% of what he sells in-store he and his staff have designed independently. Transit Tees also has printing presses, screen printing frames, sewing machines, button makers, and a vinyl cutting machine, allowing his team to craft 90% of the shop’s products in-house.

CTA magnets.

  • Transit Tee’s most popular products are the square train station magnets; they make all 150 train stations on the CTA map. Tim estimates they sell up to a few thousand each month. The magnets are available for purchase in-store or online.
  • Tim is also a huge fan of miniature or oversized graphics, and their CTA Loop graphic helped them even to land a feature with Apple’s marketing team!
  • This year alone, Tim and his staff at Transit Tees worked at 15 different street festivals, including Andersonville’s own Midsommarfest
  • Tim is excited about the upcoming One of a Kind Holiday Show at Merchandise Mart December 6-9. Including Transit Tees, he mentions that several Andersonville businesses are represented there.
Copy of Deck & Hand

Loop – The Elevated Card Game is now available for the holidays!

“I want to thank Andersonville Chamber of Commerce for welcoming us to the neighborhood, working with us, helping us in our first year. In general, the whole neighborhood has been amazing”
– Tim Gillengerten

Visit Transit Tees on these platforms:
Online: transittees.com
Facebook: facebook.com/TransitTees
Instagram: @TransitTees


Hey – those who have friends, all have those kind of friends that are hard to buy for or have everything or just say things like, “your friendship is all I need.” Here are some one-of-a-kind gifts for one-of-a-kind people – unless they are identical twins.

Chicago Market - Give the Gift of Co-op

Give the the Gift of Co-op from Chicago Market! This basket includes a Chicago Market Ownership share, a Chicago Market water bottle, tote bag and gift card. 


Stop into Kopi Cafe and pick up this Ganesh pendant in sterling silver with peridot and rhodolite stones by Roulette 18. Designed designed by Kopi’s own Rhonda Welbel and Lyn Pusztai, you won’t be able to find this item on Amazon.


Have an eco-conscious friend in your life or just want to do your part in saving the environment? Just say no to plastic straws and pick up this Pure Inventions Mason Jar with Metal Straw + Coconut Water Infusion Drops gift package at Revive Spa this holiday season. Did you know that straws do not biodegrade, are nearly impossible to recycle? In support of The Andersonville Chamber’s #sheddthestraw campaign along with the Shedd Aquarium, we are pleased to offer this unique gift.


Seeds Center offers a wide variety of classes for some “me-time” or quality social time new and old friends. Get a gift certificate for one of their scheduled classes or customize your own. The possibilities are endless.  Seeds Center is, in a variety of ways, a multi-experience and multi-inter-generational learning hub – made singularly with the vision of creating a more harmonious society.

Looking for the perfect gift for the person who has everything? Give your loved ones the gift of magic! Chicago Magic Lounge gift certificates are redeemable for tickets to any of our shows. Ticket prices range from $35.00 – $54.50 Wednesday through Saturday and $10 – $25 Sunday through Tuesday. Please visit our website for more information on each of our shows.

Stop in to Cassona Furniture and Home Accessories for a selection of beautiful vases, picture frames and bookends for the bibliophile in your life and take a sofa home for yourself while you’re there to watch all the games over winter break!


Give a year of theatre with Steep Theatre’s  Steep Pass! It is the year-round ticket to all things Steep and the perfect gift for any theatre-lover. Enjoy a reserved seat at each of Steep’s four plays in 2019, discounted tickets for friends and family, and the knowledge that your part of Chicago’s iconic storefront theatre scene.


Andersonville Antiques is a bevy of hidden gems and treasures including these Vintage Holiday Pins. Embellish a jacket or sweater with these lovely pieces or turn them into ornaments and hang them off your tree.

Can’t get enough of these giftable items? View all of the 2018 Andersonville Gift Guides, or visit our Holidays in Andersonville landing page.



In Andersonville, we try not to take things too seriously, unless it’s about shopping local! Here are gifts for the young and young at heart because we all know Adulting is hard.


Victrola Black Revised

Rattleback Records stocks all of your favorite records and the equipment on which to play them. Come pick up a Victrola Modern 3-Speed Bluetooth Turntable with 50 Watt Speakers. Available in White or Black Piano Finish.

Gather your friends and sit down to play LOOP: The Elevated Card Game. Ride the rails of the elevated trains in Chicago’s famous Loop! Match the line colors and stations to make your way around town. This fast-playing card game is perfect for 2-7 players aged 9+. Designed and produced by Transit Tees, LOOP is sure to take your next game night on a fun ride!

No green thumb necessary for these playful, elegant mobiles from designer Natalie Joy at Foyer Shop. Handmade from brass, their graceful movement, perfect balance, and subtle shine will brighten any space.

Give a gift certificate to That’s Weird, Grandma, Barrel of Monkeys’ original sketch show that’s written by kids, performed by grownups, and enjoyed by humans. Now in its eighteenth year! 

This adorable and ultra-soft Dance Puppy by Dasha Designs from Chicago Dance Supply is a great cuddle buddy! It has fluffy light brown fur, wears a pink tutu, and carries pink ballet shoes in its mouth. The perfect gift for any young dancer who likes to perform with their stuffed animals!

You’re never too old for chocolate! These chocolate sauces by Grown Up KidStuff are delicious and sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. You can find them at the Andersonville Galleria

Pick up a StudioUs art gift basket with gift certificate for the young creative in your life. With a flexible class schedule, students progress through projects that emphasize core art concepts including shape, balance, perspective, color mixing, shading, and tone, while advancing from basic line drawings and dry media to photorealistic paintings in watercolor and acrylic paint. 

Pusheen the Cat is hanging out at AlleyCat Comics waiting to be brought home for a snuggle. Get the complimentary tea-set and more! AlleyCat also has all your favorite comics and graphic novels from Superheroes to Supervillains.

Xmas tv

This 9″ LED Musical Train Motion Christmas Retro Television Set available at Brimfield plays Eight Different Christmas Songs!


Did you know that Replay Andersonville has video games that you can play for FREE? Come pick up some gift cards for your neighborhood hangout! There is an extensive rotating craft beer list, with 26 beers on tap and if you get a $100 in gift cards, you can get $25 for yourself!


Can’t get enough of these giftable items? View all of the 2018 Andersonville Gift Guides, or visit our Holidays in Andersonville landing page.



You don’t have to be a narcissist to care about yourself. Just don’t stare at your reflection until you die. Relax and recharge with the items on this list. You deserve it!


Grab a Andersonville Cryotherapy and Athletic Recovery Center holiday 4-Pack for $140. You’ll receive 4 Whole Body Cryotherapy Sessions and feel like a whole new person!

Nasty Pig brand Union Suits from Full Kit Gear are exceptional quality and are great for cuddling up in front of the fireplace on cold winter nights.

No need to be sour during the holidays! We have lemony-lemon flavored items available for your taste buds! Stop into CBD Kratom and pick up Chronic Candy’s 10mg terpene-rich CBD infused lollies, BeeZbeeCBD’s Terps Isolate in Lemon Diesel, and BeeZbeeCBD’s MCT sublingual oil in Lemon (that can be vaped too!) When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aid with CBD!

A bubble bath is never complete without a few fragrant candles burning. These handmade lavender candles from Adorn Candles are sure to relax you and can found at Andersonville Galleria.

Orange Shoe Personal Fitness in Andersonville caters to all. Customize your fitness plan for the new year with a $299 8-Pack Personal Training ($77 Savings) or $99 First Month Unlimited Small Group package. New clients only!

A gift certificate to see Celia at Prevent Chronic Pain and Therapeutic Massage promo is the perfect way to say I love you and get our of foot massages. Use code AVILLE Take 15% off your purchase of one or more paper or electronic gift certificates for your family, friends, employees and yourself. Each session includes 60 or 90 minutes of massage therapy plus assessment as needed. Gift certificates never expire and are always transferrable!

Let Ruby Ribbon change your bra game this holiday season. Your bra is not your friend, nor even a polite acquaintance. At best you put up with her. Your bra is uncomfortable, annoying and ugly. Your bra comes off within minutes of getting home (oftentimes even before you kiss your family hello) Boob Whisperer or Game Changer? One cami can change your life!

Be Yoga Andersonville gift card sale. Purchase $100 for a $120 gift card or $200 for a $250 gift card. All you need to practice yoga is a spine, and it doesn’t even have to be a good one. So come on in and see for yourself how much joy it gives them to teach and practice yoga.


Whether you wear it for comfort, warmth or fashion, this large, pleated square scarf from Akira in Andersonville has you covered. Well, your neck at least. The rest of their clothes show a little skin.

The Guesthouse Gift Certificate

Don’t have a guestroom for your in-laws? Why not book a stay at The Guesthouse Hotel.  The hotel continues to receive accolades and press for it’s spacious accommodations, attention to detail, and exceptional customer service curated by General Manager, Rick Verkler.


Pick up 60 Minute Massage Gift Card to the newly opened Aligned Modern Health in Andersonville. They are here to help you feel better from day one and do everything they can to get you feeling better in the most efficient manner possible.


Can’t get enough of these giftable items? View all of the 2018 Andersonville Gift Guides, or visit our Holidays in Andersonville landing page.