The Brewed Is a New Year-Round, Halloween-Themed Coffee Shop
It's summer, the other spooky season
The dog days of summer are here, and yet grocery stores are stocking Halloween candy and Old Navy is selling Halloween clothing. If that sounds like good news to you, there’s a new-ish Chicago coffee shop you’re going to love: The Brewed. From the good folks behind Bric-a-Brac Records and Collectibles, The Brewed is a horror movie- and Halloween-themed oasis on Milwaukee Avenue in Avondale — and the ideal coffee shop for the scary movie fan who craves quality, locally-sourced coffee, vegan donuts, sandwiches, strong Wi-Fi and hard-to-find trinkets.
The Brewed’s curation and design is clearly the vision of owners Jason Deuchler, Jen Lemasters and Nick Mayor, and their fingerprints are appropriately all over the scene. “It’s cool to be nerdy now, but this is how they [the owners] have always been,” says shift manager Trumaine Hardy. “Everything you see at The Brewed is just what they like.” That means everything from promotional knick-knacks (like original materials for MGM horror films and campy classics like The Munsters) to newer oddities like a foam chainsaw and an Evil Ash puppet from the recent Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series. It’s a space full of impossible-to-find items and foreign editions of beloved and/or underappreciated horror films.
Unfortunately, none of the aforementioned items are for sale. What is for sale is coffee from Half Wit Coffee Roasters out of Pilsen, donuts from Beacon Donuts out of Lincoln Park, sandwiches from Ørkenoy in Humboldt Park, a handful of Brewed hoodies and shirts, and a small selection of horror-focused Blu-Rays and DVDs.
The name of the coffee shop is a nod to David Cronenberg’s 1979 film The Brood. If you weren’t sure, there’s an original framed poster for the film next to the menu, above the register. Their anniversary T-shirt is a nod to Cronenberg’s 1983 film Videodrome. The Wi-Fi password is “Cronenberg.” (When the director was told about the coffee shop in a New York Times interview, he said, “That’s great!”) So who does a Cronenberg-themed caffeine house attract? “We get a good mixture of horror fans and have a great stable of regulars,” co-owner Jason Deuchler says. “We also get a good amount of people traveling through Chicago looking for cool things to do.”
If you frequented Ear Wax Cafe in Wicker Park in the 2000s or New Wave Coffee in the 2010s, you’ll feel at home at The Brewed. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to spend an afternoon. Surrounded by scary ephemera presented well, it rides the fine line between nostalgia and appreciation without getting stuck in the past. When we asked Hardy if he frequented those other coffee shops in their respective heydays, he said, “They felt like a record store — like a cool place to be. The Brewed feels more like a social scene. I think we’re the only place open until 7 p.m. now. You used to be able to hang out at places like New Wave, Dollop — they all used to be open late.”
You’ll want to hang out in The Brewed regardless of your love of horror or Halloween or caffeine. The space is clean, spacious and not off-putting for non-horror fans. On a recent weekend visit, there were just as many small children and families frequenting the coffee shop as the type of coffee consumer you’d expect in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
Though the coffee shop highlights some of the best scary stuff from decades past, they occasionally dip their toes in the zeitgeist. One of their current concoctions is The Barbieheimer, a drink consisting of fizzy pink lemonade and espresso. “It’s really selling quite well,” Hardy says. “We do offer a warning when you stir it — it’ll fizz up. We call that ‘the fallout.’”
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