Thursday, October 23, 2014


Intelligentsia exits 1871 — what's taking the cafe's place?

Intelligentsia at 1871 - Crain's photo
Intelligentsia at 1871
Crain's photo
You won't be able to get your Intelligentsia fix at 1871 after Halloween.
The Chicago-based gourmet coffee shop is leaving the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart that's home to the city's best-known tech incubator. As the folks at 1871 consider a replacement, they're thinking about the potential beyond coffee, perhaps a Genius Bar.
Intelligentsia was beloved for its java, but its prices and speed of service seemed less than a perfect fit for a place full of young tech entrepreneurs with little money or time to spare. Barred from advertising in the Mart as a condition of its lease, Intelligentsia struggled to draw a clientele beyond the 1,000 or so people who pass through 1871 each day. Intelligentsia exercised an option to exit its lease, said Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871.
"It was purely a revenue thing," Mr. Tullman said.
A spokesman for Intelligentsia did not return a call for comment.
It's not clear whether another coffee shop will move into the space, which is a high-traffic location just inside the door of 1871.
 - Howard Tullman
Howard Tullman
With a new 25,000-foot expansion of 1871 recently completed, Mr. Tullman said, "We'll probably rethink the entire entryway.
"One of the things I want to do is see is if there could be a use beyond coffee – more food, different food – anything from Jamba Juice to Freshii. Who knows? The other thought is that location is fairly prominent, so one of the ideas we were talking about is potentially an Apple Genius Bar."
In the meantime, high-end coffee machines will be installed.

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