Anne Merritt is the woman behind The Perfect Cup, our local coffee shop just steps away from the Damen Brown Line stop. She has created a friendly business and space that invites people of all backgrounds to the table to have a cup of joe. A mom, daughter, and wife–– you can see Anne’s family hanging out in the shop on any given day.
Beyond creating a favorite hangout, she also is a community-minded business woman who invites neighboring small businesses to work together. Anne holds a special place in my heart as a connector and cheerleader of The Awesome League and first host of the awesome/possible installation. A few weeks ago, I was able to grab a few insights from her in this short interview. Enjoy!
Let’s start with the basics. How long have you lived in the neighborhood? And how long has The Perfect Cup been around?
I first lived in this neighborhood when I first arrived from the Philippines almost 37 years ago. I opened the coffee shop in 1997, 14 years ago.
The Perfect Cup has a perfect little location off of the Damen stop. What inspired you to pick this spot and this neighborhood?
My inspiration to open the coffee shop simply came to me because the corner location caught my eye and the brown line L was just across the street. Coffee just seemed perfect for this little corner of my “old hood”.
Whenever I stop into The Perfect Cup, I never know if I am going to see a freelancer having a meeting or a few munchkins on a playdate. How would you describe your clientele?
My clientele is very diverse. And I am so proud to say that! I never wanted it to be exclusive to young people or young professionals only. We have many seniors, students, working professionals, and of course parents and their young coffee-lovers-to-be.
What role do you think The Perfect Cup plays in the neighborhood?
The Perfect Cup serves the neighborhood well in that it’s a good meeting place, neighbors see each other every day and get to know one another better, if someone needs something (dog sitter, apartment, used car, and the like), I can always refer them to someone in the neighborhood who has exactly what they’re looking for.
As a small business owner, what do you see as the challenges and opportunities of establishing yourself in Ravenswood?
The only challenge I have, and always had, is the constant changes the city of Chicago imposes on small business whether it be new taxes, increased taxes, new licenses, etc. I think it would be harder to start a business now than 14 years ago.
It seems like you have very friendly business neighbors, something I notice throughout the neighborhood. How would you characterize the small business community in this area?
Over the last five years, I am happy to see the number of other small businesses arrive on Damen Avenue along with myself such as the antique store, candy store, stationery and gift stores, salons and restaurants. I would like for us to work together to keep our neighborhood beautiful and vibrant for all our businesses. We all take pride in the fact that we are a small businesses and are always willing to help each other out.