Cafe Jumping Bean is a thriving symbol of a revitalized community
Cafe Jumping Bean opened its doors January 3, 1994. This year marks its 20th anniversary in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
Owner Eleazar Delgado, 46, says he opened the shop to give Pilsen residents a place to hang out. Cafe Jumping Bean was the first coffee shop to open south of Division Street, in the city’s largely Latino neighborhood.
“We brought something different to the neighborhood,” Delgado says. “People would come in and ask for tacos. We don’t have tacos. We have sandwiches.”
Cafe Jumping Bean’s customers are as varied as the neighborhood that surrounds it. “You’ll see everybody from your grandparents who lived here all their lives with their grandkids, to all the new hipster kids that they’re talking about,” Delgado says.
Jorge Jimenez, the cafe’s morning manager, steams milk for a customer. Every staff member Delgado hires speaks Spanish—many customers do not speak English.
For the cafe’s anniversary, Delgado adorned the walls with artwork he’s collected over the past 20 years. Usually, local artists exhibit their work on the shop’s walls for five weeks at a time.
Jose Mendez says he was one of the first customers at Cafe Jumping Bean when he started coming in as a teenager. Now 36, Mendez has become one of the cafe’s regulars. “It feels like a family here,” he says.
“The door is open for everybody, that’s what it comes down to,” Delgado says, of the cafe’s place in a changing neighborhood. “We’re not going to keep anybody out because of your race or whatever, that’s just ridiculous.”
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