Posted on Leave a comment

Restaurant Design Right Now — and What’s Next


I cut class for the first time my senior year of high school. Third period, skipped out on dance. I wasn’t doing anything cool or particularly rebellious  – I was at brunch at Sweet Maple Cafe. 

I first heard about the place that would become the cause of my truancy on an episode of WTTW’s Check, Please, a show where three ordinary people put forth their favorite restaurants for recommendation and the other guests visited and then weighed in on their experience. I can’t remember what exactly drew my attention to Sweet Maple, but I can assume it had something to do with the proximity to my school and a lifelong love of pancakes. 

It’s been almost two decades since I graduated high school (the SAME high school, I may add, from which Michelle Obama graduated) and I no longer live in Chicago, but I return to Sweet Maple Cafe at least once a year. 

The cafe is a one-room store front space on Taylor Street – a one time Italian enclave that was also home to the ABLA public homes – that is often filled with a college-brochure style cross section of races, ages, and occupations. Now called the Tri-Taylor area, the neighborhood was a mix of people who were born and raised in the neighborhood, college students, medical professionals, and everybody else. 

“Unpretentious” is a loaded and overused term, especially when it comes to restaurants owned by black folks. But, owner Laurene Hynson wanted to create a space where people felt fully at home. There is an ease to the cooking, to the dining room, which is now outside due to Covid-19, that Hynson herself reflects. “I have no restaurant background at all and I kind of fell into the business.” She laughs. That was 22 years ago, so she’s clearly done something right. 





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *