Save A Lot franchisee Yellow Banana has made good on its promise to include a Black-owned vendor at its Englewood location, six months after the company’s controversial takeover of the former Whole Foods.
I Love My Coffee Black plans to open its first brick-and-mortar location at the site by the end of the year, according to founder Kavia Simmons. The 150-square-foot cafe, at 832 W. 63rd St., will serve coffee, tea and pastries.
Simmons hopes to host a grand opening later this month. Her license agreement stipulates that the initial partnership will run for one year, until March 2024. A monthly 5% fee of gross monthly sales will be paid to Yellow Banana, the license agreement says.
Yellow Banana did not return a request for comment.
Simmons said communication with Save A Lot “has been good,” noting that she was at the new space Thursday.
Her coffee company’s specialty is making black coffee amenable to drinkers who like some flavor.
“We do flavor-infused coffee so you can still enjoy it black,” she said.
Simmons, who launched the coffee company in 2019, worked as a waitress before managing a coffee shop in Indiana. She then began working at Stivers Coffee’s warehouse in Pilsen, where she now sources her own beans from.
Simmons said she became entrenched in the coffee business, and even now still works at the Stivers warehouse.
“I’m still roasting. I’m grinding. I’m inventing,” she said.
The partnership with Save A Lot came about through Greg Stivers, founder of Stivers Coffee. Yellow Banana first approached Stivers about opening a location at its Englewood space, but he was retiring, so he suggested Simmons.
“I was planning to open up a coffee truck first,” she said.
The pandemic prompted Simmons to sell her coffee beans online and since then, she’s opened pop-up stores around the city. In the future, she hopes to still open a coffee truck as well as stores and own her own roastery.
“It’s totally a stepping stone for me to connect my brand with the community,” she said. “I’m looking to maybe educate the community about heart health awareness. Most of us believe we have to have coffee with a ton of cream and sweeteners in order for us to get a flavor.”
But naturally sweetening black coffee is possible, Simmons said.
“I’m really excited about being in the grocery store around the customers and being outside of the warehouse,” she said.