Heritage Outpost cafe closes after 8 years on Wilson Avenue and consolidates in another downtown location

UPTOWN – A bicycle-themed cafe has closed as it tries to consolidate and focus on its sister location in the neighborhood.

Heritage Outpost, 1325 W. Wilson Ave., permanently closed after hours Sunday, owner Michael Salvatore said. The closure caps eight years for a business that was the first in a series of spin-off cafes from Salvatore’s bike and coffee shop in Lakeview.

Heritage Bikes and Coffee opened in 2012 on Lincoln Avenue in Lakeview, offering Chicago-made bikes, cycling accessories and coffee drinks.

Salvatore then opened a series of bike-themed cafes named Heritage Outpost, with the first opening in late 2014 on Wilson Avenue. The café included a take-out showcase on Wilson Avenue and a lounge area with bikes on display as well as bike accessories for sale.

A second heritage outpost came to Uptown in 2016, opening in the newly remodeled Lawrence House, 1020 W. Lawrence Ave.

But the lingering effects of the pandemic and economic factors such as inflation and labor shortages caused Heritage Outpost to scale back operations, Salvatore said.

The Wilson Avenue store will close so the company can shift resources to the Lawrence Avenue location, Salvatore said. Salvatore also owns Larry’s bar in the Lawrence House complex.

“It just hasn’t returned to the pre-pandemic levels it needed,” he said. “It wasn’t really worth trying to run two sites with equipment and staff shortages. I didn’t want to do that to my team.

Heritage Outposts also recently decided to close sites in Fulton Market, River North and Downtown, Salvatore said.

Heritage Outpost is hampered by many of the same factors that continue to plague Chicago’s independent cafes, including labor shortages, inflation and loss of customers, Salvatore said.

Many Chicago cafes have closed or have been forced to downsize due to slowing sales and fewer employees. These businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic because much of the model provides a “third space” where neighbors and workers can meet.

Conditions force cafes to try new ideas and concepts to survive. Heritage’s flagship Lakeview location will soon launch a new lunch menu, Salvatore said.

Salvatore also opened new businesses. This includes the West Loop’s Froth Cafe, which markets itself as “a cocktail approach to coffee,” and The Bunker, a West Loop bar and restaurant.

“It’s just that the environment was in it,” Salvatore said. “As small business owners, we have to adapt. I see it as an opportunity. »

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