On February 11th, 2014 Hidden Pearl Café opened the doors to what had seemed to be a never-ending buildout. Keeping positive, the thought was that even though we were not 100 percent ready and February is not a busy month for most businesses, we opened. After all, every $20 made would be $20 less out of pocket. From the very first day we unlocked the door up until the day we closed at 1208 North Green Street we remained a very respectable shop and a business that always had patrons and high traffic.
Along the way we changed the name from “café” to “coffee” to help our customers understand who we were and what we did. The real excitement occurred when we tapped into our community. We opened up our space afterhours to many wonderful patrons and groups. Hidden Pearl Coffee hosted monthly library readings, numerous McHenry Chamber of Commerce events, sold-out plays, notable comedians, poetry nights, informative events and even events to promote public awareness such as suicide prevention. We also hosted both Democratic and Republican meetings, televised debates to packed houses and also facilitated as a call center after hours for the 2016 Presidential Election.
We hosted religious workshops, creative writing workshops and book signings. Two published books were written in our shop and one even mentioned us and our importance to the community directly. We became a very important part of the neighborhood for those who knew we were there.
Businesses face many challenges. For us the struggle was immediate. We spent a good deal of money on renovating the space and the contractor that was hired had taken the payments and not paid the workers. Then, just four months after opening, the building we were leasing, went into foreclosure. Foreclosure signs went up on the building and many people thought we went out of business. We lost a lot of momentum.
During the foreclosure process the bank decided not to renew our lease and we paid our way month to month. We stayed open and operated in limbo, not really knowing what the outcome would be. We always had a positive thought because we believed whoever bought the space would want us as a tenant, particularly because we were looking to expand.
As the length of the foreclosure dragged on, the building was starting to fall into complete disrepair. The bank was not doing any maintenance and because of the building’s age, the heat was out, the roof was leaking and pipes were bursting in the basement. It was hard to keeppushing forward, but we continued operating as well as we could.
When a buyer finally came along, they wanted to redevelop the entire property and restore it to a movie theater. Unfortunately, we did not fit into that plan and we were given notice to leave. A space in Lake Zurich was offered to us and it looked like the shop was headed down that path. That's when so many people of the community reached out to us and help us realize what the shop meant to our patrons. Their support really changed our approach to what we were looking to do and how we wanted to proceed.
We struck a deal with the building at 1250 North Green Street and began the process of redeveloping that space. The old shop was 1,400 square feet. Our new space is over 7,000.
We are excited to introduce many new things in this large space. Our coffee shop itself will be larger with more espresso machines for greater and higher production capacity. Our kitchen and menu will be expanded to offer a wider selection. We have also set aside six hundred square feet for small events such as business meetings, baby and bridal showers, workshops and clubs. Finally something we are really excited about is the 200 seat “live room” which we are calling “Talent Gallery”. In here, we will host a number of events from large parties to poetry night, open mic night, plays, art shows and most prominently comedy and improv.
Our goal is to have the highest level and quality of offerings in talent, food and coffee to bring new customers and continue to build in a place where you can visit any day or time and know that it will be time well spent. If we do it right, we will be a coffee shop that will continue to grow and enhance the neighborhood and surrounding businesses.
-Hidden Pearl Coffee!