A Clifton neighborhood building that was legendarily known for Jerry Lotz’s quirky collection has completed its transformation, getting a new life as Pregame Coffee, which opened for business Monday, Aug. 1.
While the exterior of the old two-story building, with its wrought-iron fencing and blend of arched and stained glass windows retains most of its original charm, the interior has been turned into a sleek coffeehouse, with seating, TV screens, exposed brick in spots, hardwood floors and a sports theme that blends local with Chicago. (Owner Rob Arnold admits to being a Chicago sports fan.)
After Arnold closed his previous location in NuLu in January, he spent the next six or so months not only getting the new location, at 1737 Frankfort Ave., ready, but also learning to roast his own beans. A coffee roaster overlooks the main floor of the coffee shop.
All the wood in the place is repurposed from the previous residence, Arnold said: “We tried to keep some of the allure of the previous building,” he said. (Lotz died in 2019, his collection auctioned and the building acquired by the real estate firm Zyyo.)
The second floor of the space isn’t yet open, but when it does open, it will offer event/meeting space and a theater lounge with a huge flatscreen.
In addition to traditional coffee options from espresso to cold brew to lattes, the menu also features signature coffee drinks like a matcha smoothie and the honey-infused Sting Like a Bee, tea, packaged soft drinks and more. There also will be draft and packaged beer, wine and seltzers by the can, plus signature coffee cocktails. You can even get a “shot and a shot” – a shot of espresso with a shot of liquor. Even the house Old Fashioned features a coffee component.
Six food items will be on the menu, and will be provided by nearby Phantom Café. Food options range from a ham and cheese panini to a breakfast burrito featuring locally-sourced ingredients, plus wraps and a grilled cheese option.
Arnold said tweaks will be made as needed, including to the hours of operation, which for now are Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. He suggested hours could be extended, depending on foot traffic from nearby businesses like Hilltop Tavern, The Silver Dollar and The Champagnery.
“We’ll see what kind of traffic we can share with each other,” he said.
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