Pay no attention to the world’s largest Starbucks set to be opened in the Loop in 2019—today, Chicago shows up big for specialty coffee. One of the most recent additions to the community is Werewolf Coffee Bar in the West Side’s Elston Corridor. The cafe is a part of DMK Restaurants, a casual dining conglomerate that includes eateries like the namesake DMK Burger Bar, County BBQ, and Ada Street.
“We chose this location because our DMK Restaurants corporate offices are located upstairs in the same building. We were asked to open a concept that served as an amenity to others in the building and the community,” Werewolf’s General Manager McKenzie Gilliam says. “We want to get creative with the space and chose a name to represent these aspirations.”
Werewolf is comprised of a high-ceilinged warehouse-looking space with a Wonder Bread truck parked inside. There are tables and couches, and a roaring gas fire—and of course, there’s Elston, Werewolf’s dog and de facto mascot who greets every customer he sees with a smile and a giant tail wag.
“Werewolf has such a unique design–it’s a beautiful space and had an industrial chic feel but what sets it apart is the amazing Wonder Bread truck that we’ve converted into the barista station and focal point of the room,” DMK co-owner David Morton says.
“In the next month, we will be launching the start of our food program at Werewolf,” Morton adds. “We’ll have daily lunch specials and test new menu items from our other concepts. We have a variety of drip coffees from Stumptown, Metropolis, and Dark Matter.”
Werewolf’s been kitted out with a Mazzer Luigi Grinder and a Nuova Simonelli Appia 2 espresso machine, which are used to make the standard range of espresso drinks as well as matcha, masala, and turmeric ginger chai lattes. Tea comes courtesy of Rishi, and for the dog days of Chicago summer, Werewolf offers multiple cold-brew options on tap.
“We’re serving bakery items from Floriole, along with an assortment of delicious bialys from The Bagel Chef,” Morton says. If you’re nostalgic for the foods of a bygone childhood, however, Werewolf also carries Swedish Fish, PopTarts, and Cup Noodles.
Werewolf is DMK’s first foray into coffee, and whether it will expand is on Gilliam’s mind. “We’re exploring the idea of opening more locations of Werewolf Coffee Bar, using our current location as a showroom of sorts,” she says. With the runaway success of similar multi-roasters, like downtown’s Goddess and The Baker, Chicagoans all over the city may just be ready for it.
Werewolf has only been open since early April, but already it’s becoming a spot for regulars and intrepid coffee-seekers alike, Morton says. “We have also garnered the attention of photographers, lifestyle bloggers, students, artists, and coffee enthusiasts alike,” he adds. “The space is extremely aesthetically pleasing and our product is top notch. Who wouldn’t want to hang out here?”
Daniel Scheffler is a Sprudge staff writer at large. His work has appeared in T Magazine, Travel And Leisure, Monocle, Playboy, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Butt. Read more Daniel Scheffler on Sprudge.