Coffee bar makes you ‘wonder’ with delivery truck barista station

Werewolf Coffee Bar, 1765 N. Elston Ave., opened to the public April 3. It was originally supposed to be a hangout space for DMK Restaurant employees. 

By Kendrah Villiesse

A record playing oldies spins slowly as locals sip coffee on a couch. An old, silver Wonder Bread truck with a license plate saying “Bite Me,” is parked in the middle of the “industrial chic” location, playing a repurposed role as a barista station. Patio lights are strung across the ceiling and an assortment of pastries from Floriole Café & Bakery in Lincoln Park is being offered alongside the coffees.

Werewolf Coffee Bar, 1765 N. Elston Ave., originally planned as a “company clubhouse” for DMK Restaurant employees, opened its doors to the public April 3.

“We wanted to create a camaraderie within the company and really make it the best restaurant group to work for,” said McKenzie Gilliam, Werewolf’s general manager. “[The shop] is such a cool concept that we wanted to share it with everyone.”

Serving coffees sourced from Chicago and Portland, Oregon, vendors. Gilliam said the shop uses the best roasters and receives freshly roasted coffee beans every week. The coffee bar carries Dark Matter, Stumptown and Metropolis coffees and an assortment of teas and draft beers. The former Wonder Bread delivery truck where customers can get their beverages took a year to convert into a barista station and was the inspiration for the rest of the shop’s décor, Gilliam said.  

“This building used to be an old foundry, so it made really large metal parts. This truck was in here when the [current] building owner bought it,” Gilliam said. “We couldn’t just throw it away; we needed to use it for something, and this is the perfect application for it.”

In the future, Gilliam said the business plans to host a lunch special that allows customers to pre-order food from another DMK restaurant and pick it up at the coffee shop.

First-time customer and Chicago  resident Paul Gayed said he loved the idea of a shop carrying three brands of coffee. Gayed stopped in after he saw an Instagram photo of the truck and decided to go on a hunt to find it.

“The truck is super unique, and the lighting is awesome,” Gayed said. “I love Stumptown coffee; you don’t get to find it that much in Chicago.”

Being in the center of various businesses, from architecture firms to cocktail delivery services, the shop is also a perfect getaway for employees, Gilliam said. 

Leigh Stronsnider, a barista at Werewolf, agreed with Gilliam, adding that it’s a unique touch that the shop’s centerpiece has been as long as the building has. 

“We have built around it, and it is really neat to see the final aspect of the building coming into play,” Stronsnider said.