CHICAGO — A woman-owned coffee shop in Lakeview is showing how a special connection with its customers helped the business survive the pandemic – and spread love throughout the community in a creative way.
Two Hearted Queen Coffeehouse was started by married couple Cassandra Andrewson and Cely Garcia as a safe space to form a community of love and acceptance, with coffee as the excuse to gather.
“We just wanted to make it a special place where people could come together, where we could bring the community together, and actually meet each other and bring out the humanity in people,” Andrewson said. “If we’re not connecting, we’re not living.”
Longtime customers say the shop and its mission are an essential example for the city during Pride Month.
“It is a female-owned business, it is run by a couple that is gay, and they are so welcoming of everyone, and they are the epitome of Pride,” said Suzie Gollub.
But when the pandemic forced the shutdown of typical in-store “coffee talk” it crushed Garcia, whose infectious laugh normally echoes through the shop. Instead, the shop was becoming a robotic assembly line of take-out orders.
“We were getting busier and busier, but we started feeling more and more separated from our cause,” Garcia said. “I almost threw in the towel there for a sec, I looked at Cassandra and I was like, ‘I can’t do this.’”
But it was an interaction with a customer, who said that the trip to pick up coffee was the only reason to leave the house during the “quarantine lockdown,” and it was an epiphany for the couple.
“We can’t talk to our customers? So, we’re going to write love notes on their cups,” Garcia said. “On every single cup. So, some customers just decided to write us back.”