The long-vacant former Osco Drugs building at the corner of Oakton Street and Asbury Avenue will soon have a new occupant. Little Beans Café, a combination coffee shop and kids’ play area, received unanimous and quick approval on March 24 from a City Council willing to suspend the rules requiring the reading of an ordinance at two Council meetings in order to speed up the process as much as possible.
Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward borders on the location but does not include it, expressed relief as much as anything else at the news. She said that she and Alderman Coleen Burrus, whose 9th Ward contains the site, worked “tirelessly” to get a business into the space. “We've worked on a weekly basis to get something there,” she said.
The businesses they managed to keep out of the space are as important as the one they managed to land, Ald. Rainey said. She did not elaborate on the less-than-ideal tenants who were turned away.
Little Beans decided on the location “almost by accident,” said Ald. Rainey. The owner, who lives nearby, drove by the vacant space enough times that eventually she called the City and asked about it, said Ald. Rainey.
The project has already been through the Zoning Board of Appeals process and has now passed City Council. Alterations are expected to begin almost immediately.
Little Beans offers mostly cold sandwiches and light fare, along with coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages. Adjacent to, but separate from, the café space will be a kids’ play area available on a pay-per-use basis. Because the Evanston location is larger than the Chicago space, a “Big Beans” area aimed for kids 9-12 will also be available, featuring a sports court and other amenities designed for older children.
The café will also offer a drive-through, primarily for coffee.
At long last, traffic will soon be entering and leaving the lot at the southwest corner of Oakton Street and Asbury Avenue for reasons other than to turn around or loiter. Osco closed about seven years ago and the building has been vacant since.