Despite opening in the lull of the holidays, business has been decent for the Blue Cat Cafe, located in Port Clinton Square in downtown Highland Park.
"It's been good," says barista Angel Kamysz. "And now that it's the end of winter break, everyone's coming back."
Because its housed in same spot as the former Central Avenue Starbucks, comparisons between the two coffee houses are bound to occur. Which seems to be what the Blue Cat Cafe is hoping for.
Its baristas serve the much beloved Intelligentsia coffee, and they use the pour over method to do so, meaning that each cup of coffee is made individually (pre-brewed coffee is also available for those in a rush).
"It's a lot bolder, fruiter than Starbucks," Kamysz says about the poured-over Intelligentsia coffee.
In addition to coffee, Blue Cat offers salads, paninis, flat breads, organic teas and desserts, including a brownie cheesecake that's pretty delicious. While the tea selection is eclectic, it might not be enough to give Biilly Corgan's tea house in Ravinia a run for its money. However, the espresso drinks from Blue Cat are all handmade, and you can buy coffee in bulk.
Owner Jack M. Borys also altered the layout a little, adding a few leather chairs and sofas to make the room feel more open. There's a flatscreen television in the corner and mellow music playing throughout the day.
But where the real distinction comes in is the hours. Blue Cat Cafe is open till 9 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Saturday. Why so late? Because after 5 p.m., the service switches from coffee to beer.
There are two craft beers on tap in Blue Cat Cafe -- one from Founders and one from Flying Dog. There's also a wine selection.
Check out photos of the Blue Cat above. Have you been there yet? Let Patch know what you thought in the comments.