Chicago's coffee house culture just got a shot in the arm with the arrival of Cafe Wha Who?, a spin on the famed Cafe Wha? in New York. The River North addition is inspired by the Greenwich Village staple, which served as hotbed of talent during the Beat Generation of the 1950s and '60s and continues to host live music along with an inventive menu and an eccentric crowd.
Proprietor Julie Palmer (also of Red Kiva in the West Loop) is hoping to recreate that lively scene in Chicago with Cafe Wha Who?. Located at 228 W. Chicago Ave. in the heart of the gallery district, the swinging coffee house concept is sure to take hold with the neighborhood's art dealers, artists and other creative types. The 21-and-over cafe will offer European flair with Guglielmo coffee from Italy and French-press loose leaf teas, along with an array of beer, wine, champagne and spirits for when you want something stronger to fuel your artistic juices. Menu items feature everything from pastries and quiches to soups, charcuterie and cheeses.
Cafe Wha Who?'s first level accommodates as many as 40 guests, with additional alfresco seating for 20. A second level can host up to 60 people and will present live music and other entertainment regularly. The decor is what you would expect from a groovy coffee house-cocktail lounge-live performance venue hybrid. Think: exposed brick, works by local artists, comfy leather club chairs and sofas and deep earth tones. The ambiance is enhanced by a jazz soundtrack, an interesting selection of publications for your perusal, classic board games and complimentary WiFi.
Cafe Wha Who?, 228 W. Chicago Ave., 312-475-1820