Café Neo Gets New Owner

By Mike Fourcher | Monday, July 19, 2010

Café Neo. Photo by Mike Fourcher.

Lincoln Square’s chic coffeehouse, Café Neo, 4655 N. Lincoln Ave., has a new owner, but she doesn’t have immediate plans to change very much.

“I’m evaluating for a couple of months,” said owner Mary Porter. “I like the atmosphere here…the food that’s served. I took off a few pastries, and I want to offer some healthy yogurts for lunch. I changed the music a bit.”

Although Porter purchased Café Neo in late April, she only started operating the shop in June.

Porter, a native of Massachusetts’ North Shore, spent more than 20 years working the corporate track. She moved to Chicago a year ago when her husband got a new job, but when her own employment search dragged on, “I figured I’d get my own job and my own business. I’m not a barista, but I love the coffee culture.”

She started looking for a coffee house for sale in Chicago. “People warned me that coffee was competitive in Chicago, but wow! It sure is here!” Despite the competition, Lincoln Square had a strong pull because, “I really love the neighborhood,” said Porter.

Add your thoughts to our review of Café Neo.

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  • Mike

    Glad to hear it! If found the mood of Neo to be a bit pretentious before, I haven’t been back in a while, will definitely try it again!

  • Chris

    Yay! I loved the place when it first opened, but about a year ago it lost me. I’d happily pay more for good coffee, but the drinks and the food went downhill and no longer reflected the more expensive menu prices. The atmosphere became uncomfortable, and it was clear there was no exhaust set up; every time they grilled a sandwich, I walked out smelling like panini.
    I’m excited for the new owner, and I hope to see the minor, but important, changes that will make me a regular once again (exhaust fan by the grilltop included)!

  • Christine

    Thee suggestions* for turning this place into more of a community coffee house:

    - Serve local coffee: Intelligentsia/Metropolis/Bridgeport Coffee are all excellent contenders.

    - Kill the TVs. Unless it’s national news event, they’re extremely distracting.

    - Play music without commercials. That means turning off the radio (unless it’s NPR) in favor of barista iPod mixes and full CDs. Someone’s quirky taste helps set a more intimate feel.

    - OK, one more: Serve real food.

    *I haven’t returned in a while because I was so turned off by the atmosphere. Apologies if any of this has changed in the meantime!

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