A barista stands in Heritage Chicago, a hybrid bike shop and cafe. (Taylor Ervin/RedEye )
The ethos of Heritage Chicago, Lakeview's brand new bike/coffee shop, can be summed up in one word -- local. Owner Michael Salvatore, a fifth-generation Chicagoan, strongly believes in the power of locally sourced, family owned business.
His innovative shop, which officially opens Saturday at 2959 N. Lincoln Ave., is truly mom-n-pop. Salvatore lives in the space above the cafe with his wife Melissa and his newborn son Bennett. A baby monitor sits behind the counter just in case the little guy needs some attention while dad is busy brewing.
"I want to try to stay as local as possible," Salvatore said. "There is a problem in this country. There are people with amazing skill sets who can't use [them], and I think more and more people are conscious of that, so there's a movement to go back to local manufacturers and hyper local goods. "
Situated on biker- friendly Lincoln Avenue, the shop sells hand-crafted bicycles assembled on site with the help of the folks at West Town bikes and food including sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries delivered every morning from Southport Grocery just a few blocks away.
Everything from the counter and tables to the light fixtures are made from local reclaimed wood and repurposed bicycle rims, and the shop is fashion conscious too, offering clothing and accessories from local designers.
One key aspect of the shop, though, makes its home far away from the Windy City. Baristas will be pouring Manhattan-based Stumptown Coffee into patrons' mugs when the store officially opens Saturday.
"People give me grief about not using [Chicago-based] Metropolis or Intelligentsia as my coffee but that's because I had a relationship with Stumptown in New York, and I thought that Stumptown was fitting of my brand, and what I want to do here," he said. "No it's not local, but it's a great cup of coffee."
Salvatore cut his teeth in New York City helping to build an image around the successful East Village company Bowery Lane Bicycles. Salvatore says he drew inspiration from his work with Bowery which took a more fashion-centric approach to building bikes. He saw potential for growth, and he felt that he could shape a successful brand around the intersection of these two ventures of coffee and hand-made bicycles.
"My experience within the bike community kind of lead me to the idea that a cool, approachable atmosphere in combination with some coffee will get a lot of different people in the door," Salvatore said.
Chicago provided him with the opportunity to do what he wasn't able to in New York. He and his partners at Bowery differed in their vision for the future, so Salvatore jetted back to his hometown to open his own concept store with a heavy emphasis on community building and outreach projects.
But Salvatore sees Heritage Chicago as just the beginning. He hopes to expand the brand to other sites like Detroit and Los Angeles collaborating with local bicycle frame fabricators in those cities as his business grows.
Heritage Bicycles currently offers three different models, one of which is named "Daisy" after the cow that supposedly kicked over a lantern and ignited the great Chicago fire. Salvatore hopes to offer three more models by the end of the year including a cargo bike and a kid's tricycle.
"We are passionate about what we do," Salvatore said. "I think that once people come in a see who we are and who's behind the counter, they'll see something special. "