Dining NewsNov 01, 2012
Chronicle Coffee brews community engagement
Story: Christopher Reilly
Photos: Sara Friedman
Located just north of Grand Center where the old Blumeyer housing project once stood, a revitalized neighborhood of mixed-income housing has attracted new residents, breathing new life into the area. But, until now, businesses have been slow to follow. Enter Chronicle Coffee and its owner Jason Wilson, whose goal is to not only serve a great cup of coffee, but contribute to the neighborhood’s renaissance by providing a space for community engagement and civil discourse.
"Controlling the narrative" is the company’s tagline and its mission. Wilson says he hopes to teach the young black community about coffee and connect them with its African roots, taking them back to a time when people sat around drinking coffee and talking about social change and community affairs—exactly the role he envisions Chronicle serving. By staffing the coffee shop with neighbors, Wilson hopes to control the narrative of the neighborhood as it continues to develop, setting an example for other local businesses moving in.
HOME SWEET HOME
The decor of the shop envelops visitors in warm earth tones and coffee aromas. The walls are lined with enlarged sepia photographs chronicling Blumeyer through the years, giving the space the feel of a mini museum and emphasizing its ties to the neighborhood. A large round community table in the middle of the room accommodates six to eight people, and will also be host to regular coffee cuppings. Love seats and couches sprinkled throughout the rest of the space evoke a feeling of home.
While Chronicle serves a variety of drinks, from iced coffee to fruit smoothies, the focus is on freshly brewed fair-trade coffee—served up by Kaldi’s-trained baristas. Food options include urban-focused sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries, like sweet potato pie— all made under the direction of Chef Michael Belton and prepared by students at Beaumont High School through a unique internship program. As the company expands into other redeveloping neighborhoods, the students will be graduating and ready to fill the new Chronicle jobs that become available.
Chronicle Coffee opens Nov. 5 at 135 Blumeyer St., 314.324.9752, chroniclecoffee.com.
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