The Loop has changed greatly during the past decades, going from an area full of small businesses and department stores to corporate headquarters and universities. Many of these buildings look like they were pulled straight from the 1800s, their exteriors a blend of several foreign styles. Asado Coffee is one that attempts to appeal to this generation of college students while at the same time, preserving its historic roots.
Located on Pickwick Lane at 22 E. Jackson Blvd., Asado gives students another way to get their coffee fix, and was built using one of the oldest buildings in the area.
“We chose Pickwick for its central location within the Loop,” Jeffery Liberman, partner and chief organics officer of Asado, said. “It’s a great area to give college students coffee when they need it.”
This location came about with Liberman’s partnership with CA Ventures, the real estate firm that owns Infinite, the student housing just east of Pickwick Lane.
The building started as Pickwick Stable in 1857, and was built for a flower merchant before the Civil War. As it was transformed into different restaurants, the city grew to the point of obscuring the building from public eye. A building in front of the renovated stable was eventually removed, leaving a tight alleyway behind.
Considering the age of the building, renovations have been made since Liberman gained ownership of the building.
“The only untouched parts of the building are the front and two back walls,” Liberman said. “High strength concrete has been used to keep the building up to historic specifications.”
Pickwick Lane was home to a variety of businesses prior to housing Asado Coffee. It was a butcher shop, and later an inn during the early 1900s. It eventually became a restaurant in the 1940s.
The student housing located next to Asado also needed many renovations. What is now the main lobby used to be a cluttered area used for piano storage.
Paul Jaskot, a professor of history of art and architecture at DePaul, said that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Loop surrounding the stable was considerably different than it is now.
It was a moment of transition for Chicago, with many department stores within the Loop, including what is now the DePaul Center and the 14 E. Jackson building.
In terms of the style of buildings within the Loop, there were a variety of influences that came into play.
“You had the Chicago elite focusing on historical styles, such as European, Classical Rome or Medieval France,” Jaskot said.
The shop’s unique location seems to draw students towards taking a visit.
“Well the alley opening caught my attention,” DePaul student Sean Esterquest said. “The first time I passed by I did a double take and looked down and spotted Asado.”
“Once I noticed it, I walked past a few more times before curiosity took over and I checked it out,” Kevin Bailey, a student at DePaul, said.
Both students recommended Asado Coffee for the quality of its coffee and the modest prices.
“They are one of the top roasters in Chicago that can compete on the national level,” Bailey said.