Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee plans to open its second Chicago-area cafe at the site of the former Radio Shack store in downtown Evanston.

In a request for a special use permit to be heard by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee on Wednesday, the company says it plans to operate from roughly 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

It plans to will feature coffee and bakery items to go early in the day and food and drink for in-cafe dining the rest of the day.

The 716 Church St. site in a Google Maps image from before the Radio Shack closed.

The Radio Shack store had anchored the southeast corner of Church Street and Sherman Avenue for a quarter century before closing last spring in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy filing. Before that the site was the long-term location of a drug store.

Colectivo, founded in 1993, currently has 13 cafes in the Milwaukee area, three in Madison, Wisconsin, and one in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Its name, pronounced co-lec-TEE-vo, is taken from the buses uses for public transportation across Latin America.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Yeesh

    Another coffee shop and bakery? Within a few blocks we have Starbucks, Unicorn Cafe, Panera, Patisserie Coralie, Peet’s, Cupitol, The Other Brother, the coffee shop and bakery in the Barnes and Noble, plus Einstein and Bennison’s, and Berry Pike a bit farther. Just that block alone has 3 or 4 other places for coffee and baked goods. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good coffee shop and/or bake shop, but good grief. I’m sure Unicorn, which already had to endure reduced sales hours because of the construction above them this past year, is livid.

    1. OTOH …

      Remember that Pret a Manger used to be on the northeast corner of the Church-Sherman intersection, where the Sprint store is now … so we’ve lost one coffee/sandwich shop at that intersection only to now gain one back.

      — Bill

      1. True, but of course they did

        True, but of course they did close after all, suggesting they didn’t have enough business to sustain, yes? 

    2. Bad idea

      I agree this is a bad idea. I think you forgot a couple, including the one on the east side of that block.  If they really want to move in, why don’t they take the Cosi space? Doesn’t it already have a kitchen? Or Five Guys? Or the quick turnover restaurant space to the east. Radio Shack seems like an expensive choice.

      1. Excellent location

        It’s a great idea. Enough with these negative comments. Want to bet Collectivo looked at those other spots and didn’t like them? Maybe they know what they want in a location and facility much, much, better than you do. Something also tells me they know what to consider as expensive, not you. All kinds of negatives associated with the spaces you mentioned, the Radio shack location is by far a better one. And who cares about all the other coffee shops, that’s ridiculous. Competition is good, those other shops either step up or close up. Collectivo operates a model much different then any of the other shops mentioned, very little similarity with those other places. Plus they have a history of renovating spaces with really strong design. They are going to activate and enliven that corner and make it a fantastic addition to downtown. Welcome Collectivo, you are going to do very well in downtown Evanston. Excellent choice of location and thanks for setting up shop on that specific corner.

    3. But, Northwestern…
      Don’t forget that Northwestern is just a few blocks away. 20,000 students need LOTS of coffee shops to study in… I’m sure Colectivo will do just fine!

    4. At least now local residents
      At least now local residents will be able to have a place to sit and enjoying their coffee when the Northwestern students are in town. Right now while they are here if you don’t get to Starbucks at 7 in the morning you will not find a seat.

  2. Um it was a just a few years

    Um it was a just a few years ago that we were complaining about this gorgeous building being torn down for a new construction mid rise. Seems like a coffee shop replacing a dinosaur of a store is darn good substitute.

    1. Corner Store

      OMG…all this makes me miss Huerbingers even more!  What a great place that was..and good burgers, durgstore supplies, place to hang with your friends…..Happy Days are gone!!!!  Where’s Big Al???

  3. People are going to be very

    People are going to be very happily surprised.  Collectivo baked goods and sandwiches are very tasty and high quality.  It’s going to be very popular and will truly raise the bar.


  4. Welcome, Colectivo!

    I’ve frequented Colectivo in Milwaukee for years, and was pleased to read here that my favorite coffee shop is opening just blocks from my apartment. Colectivo has great bakery from its Troubadour ovens in Milwaukee, and serves excellent breakfast and lunch sandwiches, made fresh – not shipped in, the way Starbucks does it. This is a good addition to downtown Evanston, IMHO.

    1. new place…busy corner

      It does sound appetizing……but I know I’ll never get there…again, too much of a parking hassle to consider.  But, great for the workers and the walkers in the downtown area.

    2. Great addition
      I love this place.. they have good coffee .. freshly roasted and dated so you know how fresh it is… they have pour over, nitro, and cold brew.. etc….. a great addition to the coffee scene here…
      They have their own direct to farmer fair trade program… and what really makes them unique is their visual art.. it is unique , creative and topical.. they use it for posters, mugs and coffee branding…

  5. What a great win for Evanston!

    I must join the small chorus of those who have actually visited and enjoyed a Colectivo (previously Alterra) location in Wisconsin. This is no cookie-cutter corporate chain like Pret or Starbucks. It’s much more than a coffeehouse. It’s a place you want to spend some time and treat yourself to things you won’t find elsewhere. Every single location I’ve visited is charming and unique. The food and beverage offerings are amazing and fresh! I honestly hope nobody stands in the way of this wonderful addition to our city and feel honored that they chose Evanston as their first suburban Chicago location!

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