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Added Feb 23 2012

Walking down Lincoln Ave in Lincoln Square this morning, I noticed that Cafe Neo was boarded up, with a sign in the window announcing the arrival of "Le Café" in March 2011. (See photo below.)

Always sad to see a business go under, but hopefully this new place can make a better run for it than Cafe Neo did, which always seemed to struggle more than The Grind down the street.

  • Hope the new owners (though I suspect it might be the same owners revamping) won't charge $2.75 for a cup of coffee once it opens. Might be a clue as to why The Grind and Starbucks do better.

  • Miss Chris 3rd Generation Chicagoan - Lover of Lincoln Square

    Cafe Neo was decent, but I agree with Javier B that the prices were a bit much. Plus the Grind has a much cozier atmosphere. Cafe Neo felt too much like a "restaurant" to me. I did enjoy their Nutella Latte.

  • Against The Grain Lincoln Square

    Interesting to see what the new concept will be, and how it differentiates from the others. If you think about it, you have four very similar coffee options on Lincoln from Lawrence to Montrose.

    I liked the location of Neo, but the surly nature of some of the staff was a bit off-putting.

  • Shelly Lifelong suburbanite, now in South Lakeview.

    As I drive that stretch of Lincoln frequently, I think they have been closed for at least a month and a half. I had been there for a meeting one time last year and they had shortened their hours without posting it on their door.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    I LOVED Cafe Neo. There are new owners, not revamp. It was a cool place without being pretentious. I really enjoyed the paninis and lattes. Id study in there for hours without getting the " get out" look. The new owner didnt have a credit card machine running for the last month of business which may be scary precient of whats to come.

  • @John AP are you saying that the "newer" owners that bought Cafe Neo about a year ago are the same owners of Le Cafe, or are you saying that it will be a brand new owner opening Le Cafe? I am confused by your last comment about the credit card. Sounds like teh same people that were running Cafe Neo are staying on board.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    I believe there are new new owners as of a month ago. This is what a worker told me so???? I'm just saying that if you own a coffee shop why wouldn't you @ least have a temp machine to accept cards and tips etc....?

  • Against The Grain Lincoln Square

    @John
    Its a small business, in a low margin industry. They probably couldn't afford to surrender x number of cents per transaction, especially after the Durbin Amandmant in Dodd-Frank.

    Unintended consequences....

  • jodie b. Salam IS best!

    Good luck to the new owners- wish list from a weekend customer who usually buys 2 specialty coffees and a panini while studying:
    ~new chairs appropriate to the table height
    ~cut the lame Sirius/XM classic rock station and no staff singing along to Led Zeppelin. Maybe a variety of Sirius/XM stations or even an occasional staff mixtape?
    ~Open late on a Saturday night.
    ~train the staff to aim towards warmth and friendliness
    ~gentler lighting. it's a little harsh in there.

    The Grind has a better vibe, better music, and more eye candy but it's too hard to find a seat, the Cafe Au Lait is pretty lame + not hot so I usually end up at Neo by default. It would be nice to /want/ to go there.

  • I have to concur w/jodie b. regarding music- they always have the worst!! It seems like that place has always struggled- I used to go there anyway but the Grind is so much friendlier. I hate to say it, but I don't hold out a lot of hope for a place with a name like Le Cafe.

  • John AP 5 Year AP resident. LOVE it

    @Against The Grain

    The Dodd Frank Act generally makes it better for high volume/low ticket merchant to take debit. The issue was that I saw a bunch of people walk out as soon as they were told that the business wasn't accepting cards currently. Also, when the DID have something it all had to be keyed in without tips = costly and inefficient. ( I'm in the biz :) )

  • I used to go to neo a few years ago frequently... When they were open late (like to 11) and coffee was good (fancy brand) and not expensive. Then they changed to lavazzaand jacked up prices. Also, they became less inviting after they changed the layout.

    I like the Grind, but really only frequent Chava now (I'm on between them and grind).

  • Hi all!!! My name is Danielle and I am the new proud owner of Le Cafe (formerly CafeNeo)....!! I appreciate everyone's comments because that is truly the only way we can be better!! Truth is I did take over this store back in Feb...and I also took on alot of problems!! We were due to re-open in March but of course the problems got bigger and BIGGER, so that has been delayed unfortunatley till August 1... :( I am excited about our new menu which features items such as authentic belgian waffles, my mom's famous stuffed banana french toast, fresh hot beignets and delicious french pastries (I'm a pastry chef so you know these will be good!!!) just to name a few... Please check out our website at www.lecafechicago.com to view our full menu!! I'm excited about the future and can't wait to finally open our doors! Thank you all for your patience!

  • RoseRed 15 years in Chicago, 4 years in Lincoln Square

    Dear God! If even half of that menu comes to fruition, I'm going to be there all the time! I hope the problems are not too crazy, and I look forward to seeing you when you open up!

  • Amanda is never leaving Ravenswood

    I liked Cafe Neo because it didn't have all the campers that the Grind has. (I don't think I've ever successfully sat down in there because I don't show up with my laptop at 6 a.m.) Plus, unlike the Perfect Cup, they were always friendly to a large group of us who met there. Stay cool and limit wi-fi to two hours per coffee...just saying.

  • Neighborly1~ Values community.

    I personally didn't like Cafe Neo because it was overpriced and felt unfriendly. This location has lots of competition both North and South, not only The Grind, Starbucks, Julius Meinl, and a new food menu at the Old Town School, but Selmarie, ice cream, yogurt, Paciugo, Book Cellar, Gene's which has pastries, and many more that I can't remember right now. Of course they are not all cafes and don't all have breakfast. But I think this location requires competitive prices to be successful. I wonder if that has been part of the problem in the past.

  • Hi Danielle! thanks for jumping in, it's nice to hear from someone active in the community! :) Are you planning the spot to be sit down table service, or counter/cafe service? Best of luck on your opening, and can't wait to try out some of your treats!

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