The inside of the café is full of people browsing the menu, ordering, waiting or admiring the hand-painted ceiling. Bridget Daly walks up to the worker’s window on Wrightwood Avenue and orders a coffee, chatting with the barista as she pays and takes the hot drink.
“It’s great to have a place to get a great cup of coffee in the neighborhood that’s not a Starbucks,” said Daly, a resident of Logan Square.
Located at 3624 W. Wrightwood Ave. in Logan Square, Kate Vrijmoet’s coffee shop, necessary & sufficient, officially opened Oct. 24 offering coffee, specialty drinks and food from local vendors and housing Vrijmoet’s art studio behind the café space.
Normally a full-time artist, Vrijmoet first looked for a studio space when her family planned to move to Chicago from Seattle in early 2017, then a school for her two daughters and lastly a house or apartment for them—like she does each time they relocate.
“I couldn’t find a centralized arts community in Chicago and it took me a little while to realize that there isn’t one,” Vrijmoet said. “The studio rents out here are double what I was paying in Seattle, so I started thinking about purchasing my own space.”
She found “the perfect space for an arts studio” in West Logan Square on Wrightwood Avenue that came with a small retail space in front.
“I noticed that [the studio] would meet my needs and started thinking about the little storefront,” said Vrijmoet, 53. “I immediately thought that given the location it would be perfect for a coffee shop.”
While visiting the neighborhood for the space’s inspection, Vrijmoet spoke to as many people in the community as possible about the empty space and her ideas for it, she said.
“I had several ideas for what I might do in the space,” she said. “The leading one was the coffee shop. That was the one that would take the biggest commitment of my time and financial resources and would be the most difficult.”
But everyone with whom Vrijmoet spoke in Logan Square wanted a coffee shop. So, she researched and learned what she could about opening a business in Chicago by taking classes at City Hall.
“It’s really hard to open a business in Chicago,” Vrijmoet said. “It can be empowering; it can be discouraging. You have to have a good environment, be open at the rights hours, have great products and provide a good surface experience.”
Vrijmoet expressed her awareness of the fact that two out of three small businesses survive the first two years and half survive past five.
“I’ve read the statistics about small business success, but I also have my own life experience,” said Vrijmoet. “I usually set lofty goals and then exceed them. So, if this business fails, I can accept that. I learned a lot, and I have a high value for learning. And it could fail—that could happen.”
The doors officially opened in late October, offering signature drinks like the “Close Female Friendships,” a beetroot latte with rose and vanilla simple syrup and the “El Diablito Caliente,” a mocha latte with house chocolate syrup and habanero, along with food products like empanadas from Fig Catering and baked goods from The Spoke & Bird, both Chicago-based companies.
“I haven’t been able to make any art since opening,” Vrijmoet, who was a full-time artist before going into the coffee industry, said. “But I think that this is placemaking art. We’re changing the vibe in the neighborhood in a positive way and activating this corner.”
The café offers worker’s discounts at their to-go window early in the morning and plans to work with community organizations like the Friends of James Monroe and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.
“The teachers and staff are really excited to finally have something so close to the school,” said Jeniffer Gutierrez, the president of Friends of James Monroe, an organization that supports the local elementary school. “It’s nice to know that Kate is interested in helping—not just by giving her part of her earnings—but really being involved in the community.”
necessary & sufficient is hoping to partner with Logan Square community groups and organizations to donate part of their proceeds or provide opportunities for students to gain barista experience, Vrijmoet said.
“Kate is trying very hard to be a good community member and to make a space that’s inviting to all members of the community,” said Jessica LeMaster, development and communications associate at Logan Square Neighborhood Association, a possible partner with the coffee shop. “I’m excited to see what she grows into.”
Along with these plans for the café’s role in the greater Logan Square community, Vrijmoet has been working on making necessary & sufficient into a place where “neighbors run into neighbors and connect,” which she cites as a major reason that she got into the coffee industry.
“Coffee is one of those special things that brings people together,” said Jacqueline Gonzalez, necessay & sufficient’s café manager. “People are getting to know their neighbors in the shop. Regulars are chatting with each other about their drinks and that opens channels for them to talk about what’s happening in their community.”
Visitors of necessary & sufficient may notice the coffee shop’s values painted on the walls—”community” written above a notice board, “sustainability” above the recycling and compost bins and “craft” above the many machines and bags of coffee and tea behind the counter.
They are sustainable through their product sourcing, show value for their craft through the design of their drinks and work to provide for the community with their products, services and partnerships, Vrijmoet said.
“This is really a community coffee shop,” Vrijmoet said. “We wouldn’t be here if the community didn’t want us here.”