New coffee shop to open in Old Irving
by BRIAN NADIG
When it opens in the early fall, a new cafe and bookstore will become the first commercial tenant in six years at an Old Irving Park landmark.
"I just love the building," said Daniel Speer, who along with Melinda Speer and Rafael Esparza own the Finom Coffee, Tea, Food and Books, 4202 W. Irving Park Road.
The coffeehouse will be located in the Whistle Stop Inn building, which was designated a Chicago landmark in 1990. The two-story frame building, which includes a second-floor apartment, is named after a tavern that once operated there.
The building was constructed as a grocery store in 1889 and is considered an example of the modest wood structures that were once common in outlying Chicago neighborhoods. One of the building’s more recent storefront tenants was the Irving Park Historical Society.
Speer said that the menu will feature several Hungarian dishes, as his wife Melinda is from Hungary. "Finom. It’s a Hungarian word. It means delicious," he said.
Plans call for the cafe to maintain the building’s historical character. Speer said that the coffee bar was constructed using wood from the 1890s. The wood came from a brewery in which extra wood apparently had been saved from the time the building was first constructed, he said.
The cafe also will sell a wide variety of used books. The hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends.