Downtown Evanston has launched a campaign to bring a 150-year-old Viennese coffee and pastry shop chain to the site of the former Borders store on Maple Avenue.

Downtown Evanston‘s Carolyn Dellutri says she “fell in love with” the recently opened Julius Meinl shop she visited on Southport in Chicago and she’s launched a Facebook campaign to try to bring one to Evanston.

The company has begun an expansion into North America with three shops now open on Chicago’s north side.

Dellutri says there was a big line at the Southport shop on a Saturday morning when she was there and she raved about her breakfast of “baked eggs with tomato, basil, goat cheese, spinach, mushroom and swiss.”

The shop also features live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, and, Dellutri said that as Downtown Evanston works to create an arts and entertainment district, “I feel this would be an excellent addition to the mix of nightlife.”

The city’s economic development manager, Nancy Radzevich, says she thinks it would be a great idea, too.

“Given their extended hours of service and offerings of food and pastries,” Radzevich says, “we believe this is an ideal location for such a unique, high end European coffee house.”

“This brand will appeal to the residents, Metra and CTA commuters, day-time work force and visitors, as well the ‘after movie’ crowd,” Radzevich added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Check the reviews on Yelp

    On Yelp, many commenters rave about this place, others complain (predictably) about the waitstaff service and offerings (also predictable). One unique complaint is that the Southport location discourages patrons with laptops by limiting wi-fi access.

  2. Meinl is not a coffee shop

    Meinl is not a coffee shop in the Kaffeine sense, rather it's an expensive, yuppified, Germanic transplant. As such it might find business from people who like that sort of thing. 

    The Southport location is hardly like Evanston at all, the area has condos which begin at $400K and a lot of 4,500 square foot single family homes which average $2MM. There is a ton of disposable income down there, along with a mindless sensitivity that equates fun with getting drunk and yelling at sports teams, buying BMW's, and eating nearly all meals in restaurants. 

    The boutiques feature $100 t-shirrts, and $150+ "custom" jeans. 

    My hunch is that Meinl will not find a customer base to justify the move up here….thankfully!

    1. Meinl is nice

      The Southport store is nice…maybe it is pretentious and 'Yuppified' ..I don't know what is wrong with being a 'Germanic transplant.' (Do you have a problem with the Volkswagen dealership on Chicago Ave.?)

      It would be nice to have Meinl there…it would be a nice place to stop before getting on Metra in the morning, even if it is expensive.  

      I don't see why Meinl would come here, though.  I am afraid that this campaign will be another  "bring Trader Joe's to   <insert location here>"

    2. Coffee house

      Winning Turtle, you don't seem to know too much about the coffee house (Kaffeehaus) culture which essentially started in Vienna (Austria) in the late 19th century.

      Meinl is one of the oldest coffee roasters dating back to 1862, which (successfully) attempted to open a coffee house in the Viennese style to Chicago. With the exception of the staff, the Meinl coffee houses are pretty authentic overall. I believe that I can fairly accurate judgement as I grew up in Vienna and spent many hours in various Viennese coffee houses.

      They have since opened two locations as well as a small patisserie, and from what I understand they are doing quite well.

      When you call Meinl a place for Yuppies, then you are obviously misunderstanding. Meinl's goal is to provide excellent food, coffee and pastries in their coffee houses. Quality comes with a price, and just because something costs more than Dunkin Donuts or Kaffeine, doesn't mean it's pretentious or for Yuppies.

      I personally think that it would a great idea for Meinl to open up here in Evanston, and I believe that the residents here would appreciate the services they would provide. Like I said, they offer a full menu including breakfast, great coffee etc. Their entrees are not much more expensive than a sandwich at Panera, so I doubt that price is an issue. You seem to be opinionated about the Southport neighborhood – there is another Meinl in Lincoln Square as well. Evanston has boutiques and stores as expensive as Southport, maybe you should consider moving?

      Now whether the location at Borders is suitable is an entirely different story, as the architecture of that building would somewhat clash with their other locations, and where you would normally find a traditional coffee house.

      I hope that explains a bit more.

      1. Maybe in Evanston but not there

        It sounds like it wants to imitate/copy the French [or other European] cafes where [I'm idealizing this alot] people sit outside in a relaxed mode [no management pushing them out] and discuss idea [philosophy and such].  Instead I'd suppose—if they open early—would be for Metra/CTA grab and run in the AM.

        Yes there are people in Evanston who would do this but not downtown or inside.  Maybe what I see at Main and Hinman, or possibly Noyes west of Sherman or off Central [on Central is much too busy].

        I assume prices and 'atmospher' would not be for or attract NU students.  We have a lot of coffee houses as it is.  Maybe too many as Enigma [same name both times ?] failed twice.


        In any event the city should not bribe them to come or in any form give them money  Recall the payments the city made to Borders to move [not asked for], pushed out Dave's Italian Kitchen [twice once for the David/Hinman building and the secondlong before development was done there], and had ages to plan/evaluation the whole Research Park idea [south and north of Church]. 

        Not a very good record.

  3. Expansion?

    The Southport store has been there for almost 10 years…and unless they have changed their strategy recently, Meinl doesn't seem to be in a hurry to expand.

    See this article from back in 2002:

    Thomas Meinl, the President of its exporting subsidiary, prefers a conservative approach by saying, "We are in no hurry to expand the coffee shop networks, for our goal is to increase coffee bean sales".

  4. This would be a great

    This would be a great addition to the neighborhood. I have been to the other locations as well as Southport with my children who live near them. They are always on our radar for breakfast and lunch.  There are always lines on nice days, especially for the outside seating.

  5. Kudos to City staff and Downtown Evanston

    Good for the City staff and Downtown Evanston for this effort.  Whether it works or not it's still a smart move because it shows all businesses that have an appealing character that, contrary to the old saw, Evanston is a place that is more than receptive to new business. Wally and his staff and Carolyn and the board of  Downtown Evanston deserve a hearty "Bravo"!

  6. Wally going to spread the love again or our money?

    Asking a business to move here is one thing, givng them our tax dollars is another.  I do not know any thing about this business, nor do I care, what i care about is Wally giving our money away when the city is over 888 million in debt and had a 8% effective tax increase last year.

    Will this be another million dollar deal with our money?

  7. Who cares

    as long as the city of Evanston doesn't provide any more of the taxpayers dollars. If Meini wants to come here, they must feel their is a profit to be had. If they need more incentives than a profit, they are not worth our time.

    Why don't they move to the shoping center at Dodge and Dempster. There is plenty of room there to expand. There is lots of parking. If they move to the old garden center and have a huge outdoor area for eating, drinking, and entertainment.

  8. Meinl

    Once again, it's the "1% taste" with the "99% pocketbook." Why would a so-called Kaffeehaus have any more chance of succeeding than a 38degree yogurt shop would? Pretentiousness, thy name is Evanston! (BTW, how come $2M for a parking lot but nothing for the South Branch Library???)

    1. Downtown place this might work

      If the idea is for 'central' downtown, what about the Chase Bank plaza ?  The plaza would be large enough and I think there is still enough room in the rotunda for in-door seating and food preparation.

      Problem of course is still parking space and wanting to pay parking rates down town for a 'casual' outdoor coffee cafe.

  9. Ridiculous objections

    Really? Most of you people are ridiculous. Who cares if they want to open or not, it's not like it's a "hooters" type restaurant that people had a problem with (which was also ridiculous).

    It's tax revenue for the city, filling a now vacant retail space, and providing more options of the citizens of our town.

    Not every business that opens has to cater to all. If you want a $1 coffee there's a place for that, if you want a $5 coffee there is another place for that.

    I personally have frequented Meinls and they are a high quality place to go once in a while for a nice time out.  Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.

    And btw, there are plenty of $400k condos and 2 million dollar homes in Evanston too. Haven't you noticed the "caution watch for cars" sign on the Sherman plaza parking garage is a BMW! This is the north shore people, lol.

  10. Why downtown?

    Why is Downtown Evanston so set on bringing in yet another coffee place? There are already at least three chain stores (Panera, Starbucks and Peet's), and many locally owned coffee shops (Unicorn, Kaffein, Cafe Mozart, Delbe's Cafe, Brothers K Too) in the Downtown area – do we really need another one to drain resources from these established businesses? Why not bring it to (dare I say it) Howard Street? Or Dempster-Dodge? Either of which could really use a shot in the arm.

    Of course, this would require the City to coordinate with the other Merchant Associations in town or to work with the Chamber of Commerce. Downtown Evanston isn't the only game in town. I wish Carolyn Dellutri would consider the interests of the entire community, including the home-grown businesses in her area, instead of just working to furthering the ends of Dowtown Evanston. But I guess that's not what she's paid for. 🙁

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