After roaring out of the gate in 2018 with a stunning flagship cafe in Los Angeles, scoring the coveted Sprudgie Award for Best New Cafe, and expanding to include a vibrant online subscription service, the team at Dayglow—led by Tohm Ifergan—were all set to take on an exciting new chapter, this time 2000 miles northeast, in the city of Chicago.
Then 2020 happened. Dayglow's plans—like so many plans—ran into the buzzsaw of a Most Horrible Year, signing a lease in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood mere weeks before the coronavirus caused nationwide shutdowns on travel and hospitality. Investors bailed. Plans had to be recalibrated. But Dayglow pushed on, and they're now coming up on a year in business running one of Chicago's most unique cafes, serving coffee from a stunning cache of noted international roasters.
We spoke digitally with Dayglow founder Tohm Ifergan to learn more.
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Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!
My name is Tohm and I’m the founder of Dayglow, a hybrid subscription service/cafe based out of LA. This location serves as a homecoming for myself along with our first expansion to a new market.
What equipment do you use in your shop?
Which roaster or roasters do you serve?
What is the neighborhood like where you're located? What's some other cool stuff nearby?
We’re located at the border of Humboldt Park and Logan Square. The shop sits alongside the 606, a beautiful elevated park and trail build on an old industrial train line. We opened directly across my brothers brewery, Orkenoy, whom I’d argue is already brewing some of the best beer in the city. It’s surreal to be back in Chicago where we grew up serving the community.
Did you close during a mandated Coronavirus shutdown, and if so, for how long?
We had just signed our new lease a couple weeks before the Covid shutdown happened last March. We had investors pulling out and had to rethink our entire build out and timeline. Having already worked on this location for the better part of two years, it was certainly an unfortunate wrinkle that added roughly six months to our timeline. Fortunately our friends at Orkenoy (with the help from La Marzocco) let us pop up in their space until we were able to open.
How has Coronavirus impacted daily work at your cafe?
Well the main challenge in opening a new shop in another state during a pandemic was myself being unable to be there physically. From the build out process and hiring to current operations we rely A TON on Zoom meetings. It was definitely stressful and by no means ideal. By the time we eventually opened it was the new year and miserably cold with snowstorms aplenty. Not being able to spend much time with customers is frustrating as a new business. We are very fortunate to have a great team there that have been able to adapt to all the challenges.
What's something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
I’m pretty certain we’re the only non-US multi-roaster cafe in the States. Since this location is a direct extension of our online store we wanted to create a bit more synergy with our offerings. It was also important to me as a Mexican to showcase coffee from CDMX since it’s often overlooked and truly excellent. This store is more or less what the look and feel of Dayglow will be moving forward with the intention of opening up to new markets domestically and internationally.
Is there a community organization or charity you'd like to shout-out as part of this feature?
Photos by Dayglow, used with permission