“I’m not even supposed to be working right now. I come because it’s such an open environment,” said sophomore and barista John Park. Park works as a barista at Café on the Park, but on his days off will frequently come into the cafe to socialize with co-workers, practice latte art and study for classes.
According to Park, Café on the Park has better coffee, better hours, better Wi-Fi and “better looking baristas” than Starbucks and River City Roasters, which are also located in downtown Wheaton. The primary employees of the café are Wheaton College students, and customers range from library-goers to residents of nearby apartments.
One month ago, Café on the Park opened at the Wheaton Public Library and has since been serving high quality coffee, sandwiches and homemade scones baked fresh every morning to library visitors and community members.
The space in which the café is located was built onto the library as an addition in 2007 with the intent of being transformed into a café. However, due to the recession, the space was not utilized until 2014, when the process of selecting a company to run the cafe began. In early 2015, I Have a Bean was chosen to partner with Steep it Real and the Wheaton Public Library to transform the space into a fun and friendly buffer between the library and Adams Park.
Co-owner Pete Leonard said he has received a multitude of compliments and even requests from other companies to “send overflow employees their way.” “We have the best crew,” said Leonard, “they’re kind and friendly and knowledgeable and bubbly.” Second Chance Coffee, the company name for I Have a Bean, is known for hiring people who have been released from prison. But due to the public nature of the location, there is an approval process required before the company can hire ex-convicts as baristas for the café.
Café on the Park also takes great pride in its house-made and local ingredients. “Everything that we have the expertise, the time and the equipment to do ourselves, we do,” said Leonard. This includes made-from-scratch caramel and vanilla syrups, homemade Georgia mustard sauce, dill and basil aioli, freshly baked scones, chicken from the Wheaton Meat Company and milk from the 1871 Dairy in Wheaton.
The café’s unique focus on local companies and the Wheaton community embodies the spacious sitting areas both inside and outside of the library as it seeks to reflect the slogan, “serious about coffee … and fun!”
The café is open seven days a week, providing a convenient place for Wheaton students to relax, study or fuel up, even on Sundays.