Decorated with a large mural featuring titans of Black cinema, Momentum Coffee in North Lawndale doesn’t look like most cafes.
The beans from a local Black roaster and actress Pam Grier looking down from a mural on the wall are a MacGuffin for what the Black-owned coffee shop is really about.
“Our mission has always been to create spaces in underutilized communities,” said Tracy Powell, who owns the cafe with his spouse Nikki Bravo.
The North Lawndale cafe, on Ogden Avenue across from the Sinai Medical Center, is their fourth and the first on the West Side. The others are in the South Loop, Englewood and downtown.
It’s a needed oasis in the West Side neighborhood, an area with few bars, restaurants or other cafes.
The menu includes espresso drinks, teas, smoothies and sandwiches. The cafe also sells equipment for making coffee at home. The decor was inspired by its proximity to Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and the predominantly Black neighborhood. It opened in late February.
Powell hopes it can become a buzzy cafe, but for him, a cup of joe is just a way to welcome folks to the place.
“Once you get in the door, then you can see what kind of stuff we have going on,” Powell said.
For Powell, the idea is to create a space where community can form and for community programs, including the adult entrepreneurship programs and youth technology education classes hosted by Powell and Bravo’s nonprofit, Ignite Technology and Innovation.
So far, they’ve hosted only programs associated with the hospital but expect to branch out.
Powell and Bravo opened the first Momentum in South Loop in