Owners hope coffee shop shows different side of Back of the Yards neighborhood

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two entrepreneurs are on a mission to make Chicago Proud. They've opened a coffee shop in the Back of the Yards neighborhood and hope to show a different side to the community.

The news of violence in the neighborhood is a refrain the city knows well, and now a pair of entrepreneurs want to clean up that image.

Mayra Hernandez and Jesse Iniguez grew up in Back of the Yards. They're determined to rewrite its narrative with coffee.

"There was a running joke that at 6:30 a.m., the only thing open in the neighborhood is going to be the coffee shop and the liquor store," Iniguez said.

Mayra became her own barista to save money and learned to brew via Youtube. Soon, others wanted in on the fruits of her labor.
"We got to the point where we were selling iced coffee by the gallon," Hernandez said.

The recipe is ready. Now the finishing touches are being made to the shop itself, situated right across the street from Back of the Yards College Prep at 2059 W. 47th Street.

"Having it across the street from the high school provides the opportunity to have some customer base, people that would want to drink our coffee," Iniguez said.

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The doors are open at a coffee shop aiming to breathe new life into a neighborhood plagued by violence.

Mayra and Jesse expect the local "buzz" won't come from just the coffee itself, but what the shop will do for the community. Even the beans are sourced from farmers in Mexico who have family in Back of the Yards.

With opening day upon them, Mayra and Jesse can't wait to see what happens next.

"We have artists, we have psychologists, doctors, engineers, business owners, doing really, really amazing things, consciously making sure that they're helping out the community that they came from," Hernandez said.

The company opened its doors over the weekend and Monday is the first weekday that the shop is open.
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