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“Get Ready for a Pick-Me-Up with Winnetka’s New Brew: Tala Coffee”

In the primary few days for Tala Coffee’s Winnetka location, customers expressed gratitude for the shop’s arrival within the Indian Hill district, said Joanna Tong, Tala’s marketing and operations director.

But perhaps none of them were as grateful as Tong and her team.

“It’s been awesome,” Tong said. “… Nobody wanted this greater than me, but it surely looks as if the community wanted something here for thus long.”

Tala Coffee Roasters opened its roastery in Libertyville in 2017. The Winnetka location is the business’s third cafe, joining the unique Highwood cafe, which opened in 2018 inside a former firehouse; and the Libertyville one, which opened in September contained in the company’s roastery.

Tala Coffee in Winnetka opened on Thursday, Nov. 30, on the corner of Green Bay Road and Winnetka Avenue.

Tala applied nearly three years ago to a Village of Winnetka request for proposals to enhance 93 Green Bay Road, an extended deserted property with a vacant constructing. As The Record previously reported, the Village chosen Tala from three finalists in 2022.

The event of the space, which included negotiations with the property owner, the Village of Winnetka, was “such an extended process,” said Tong, who added that she and her team put their hearts and souls into the space.

Tala has built its fame on its coffee (its motto is “Sweet, Beautiful Coffee”) and its core values, Tong said: quality, approachability, intentionality and connectivity. Those attributes are behind the coffee in addition to the cafe’s vibe, which offers plenty to charm customers while centering on serious coffee.

The cafe’s seasonal menu is evidence to that dynamic with a listing of holiday offerings, just like the Candy Cane Lane and gingerbread latte (with syrups made in-house), alongside its Ruca house mix, Finca Cerro Negro pour-overs and many more.

Tong said a customer once told her that they enjoyed Tala since the coffee roaster didn’t take itself too seriously. She liked that.

“We’re really good at making coffee but we’re excelling at things just like the Candy Cane Lane, too,” she said.

The Candy Cane Lane at Tala Coffee in Winnetka.

The cafe also serves pastries and breakfast bites courtesy of north-suburban bakeries, and Tong said soon the Winnetka location can have a more substantial food menu — a feature that might be unique to the placement.

The shop’s location is just a few blocks west from Latest Trier High School’s Winnetka campus. Tong and company expect to see plenty of scholars throughout the day once word spreads. But she said the coffee shop is a community hub, and to this point, she’s been blissful to see young families and neighbors come through.

Joe Jaskulski, a 10-year Winnetka resident, walked over to Tala on Monday morning, Dec. 4, to enjoy a coffee within the convenient location.

“It’s definitely nice they restored this abandoned facility,” he said. “It’s an incredible addition to the neighborhood and I hope they succeed.”

The cafe can seat about 60 inside at a combination of two-top window seats, four-top tables, large booths and stools along window bartops.

A key feature of the property will reveal itself when the weather turns. The vast outdoor space will feature tables and community seating in a cooperative with the Village of Winnetka, owner of the property since 2001.

The Village sought developers for the property — which once featured a Texaco gas station and repair shop — in 2018 and nonetheless in 2020 before naming three finalists in October 2021.

Tala worker Emory Orlando writes a customer’s name on a cup before preparing a beverage on Dec. 4.

Tala’s lease with the village has an initial term of 10 years with two additional 10-year options. The annual rent attributable to the Village of Winnetka is $4,110, and Tala is liable for covering property taxes, in addition to payments for liability and constructing insurance, constructing maintenance, utilities and refuse collection, in line with Village documents.

Tala planned to speculate $603,000 into the cafe’s buildout and enhancements to the location, while the Village budgeted $946,230, including $563,730 for project-specific improvements and $382,500 for utility and parking “improvements required for any tenant,” the documents say. The partnership also features a $60,000 village loan (3 percent interest) to Tala for constructing materials. The loan have to be paid back throughout the 10-year length of the lease.

Tala Coffee is the one cafe within the Indian Hill area but joins Hometown Coffee and Juice, Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks as a coffee shop on or near Green Bay Road. The opposite three shops are situated north of Elm Street in downtown Winnetka.

Tala’s Winnetka hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. on daily basis. For more on the business and the Winnetka location, visit the Tala Coffee Roasters website.

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