April 7, 2006

Istria Cafe opens second Hyde Park store

When summer is in full swing in Chicago, students will have another place for refreshment. Istria Cafe, located at the 57th Street Metra Station, is expanding in Hyde Park with an additional location opening this July in the new Hyde Park Art Center at 5020 South Cornell Avenue.

Co-owner Tim Schau did not give any details about further plans to expand, but mentioned that Hyde Park may see a third location open “when the time is right.”

Schau said the cafe has “found its home” in Hyde Park. He said Istria’s involvement in the community is a major selling point for the cafe over corporate options such as Starbucks and other national chains.

“National cafe chains have become fast food services, dealing in commodities,” he said. “At Istria, we take time to craft each drink.”

He said Istria employees often have time to develop relationships with their customers, who are also their neighbors and friends.

Schau also mentioned the appeal of their gelato, which is homemade in the store. Currently, the 57th Street location serves 12 different flavors of fresh gelato. At the new location, there will be an expanded selection of 24 flavors.

Other offerings at both branches of the Istria Cafe include espresso and tea beverages, panini sandwiches, and organic food. The store also provides wireless Internet service to customers.

The cafe’s name derives from the Istrian peninsula, which is located in the northeastern region of Italy and has a strong cafe and coffee culture, according to the store’s web site. In years past, all coffee coming into Western Europe came through the city of Trieste.

The world-famous coffee company, illy coffee, which Istria Cafe stocks, is still based in Trieste. Two of Istria’s three co-owners, Paul and Marc Pribaz, also have family ties to that region.