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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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Openings Tue Feb 02 2010

A New, Green Filter

Filter Coffee
photo by Donn Ha

"We're excited and relieved to be back," says Jeff Linnane, co-owner of Filter, the beloved coffeehouse in Wicker Park's Flatiron Building which closed in late 2007. Filter reopened Friday, Jan. 29, at 1373 N. Milwaukee Ave., sharing a front door with Copenhagen Cyclery. Former regulars will be pleased to hear that most of the menu has made the move intact -- your hipster hash has returned -- and the coffee is still from Intelligentsia. However, there are definitely some big differences, with more on the way.

Manager and co-owner Stephanie Linnane, who joined her husband Jeff and partner Jeff Stella in ownership last year, says Filter will be roasting its own coffee using beans from Intelligentsia -- as soon as the big, black commercial roaster that takes up a corner of the ordering area is fixed. "We plan to give the clientele a variety [of coffee varietals] to try, and maybe have a comment board to collect opinions on which ones they like," she says.

The new Filter is a major upgrade from the comfortable but somewhat dilapidated old Flatiron space. The new space was stripped down to the brick and built back out to LEED Gold standards for commercial interiors by green architecture firm Moss Design. In addition to using energy- and resource-efficient fixtures, lighting and appliances, lead architect Matt Nardella says the most visible manifestation of the new Filter's environmentally conscious design is the wide range of recycled materials used in the construction.

"My favorite is the slate roofing tile, taken from a tear down of a house in Lincoln Park, that has been used for wall tile in the restrooms," Nardella says. "When selecting interior materials I find that the aesthetics are always relevant, and never go out of style, when they have a story to tell. So in this case, the slate was sitting on a roof in Chicago for 100 years and hopefully it will be on the walls of Filter for another 100. The surface of the check out counter is made constructed of glass blocks from the old window of the Dill Pickle Food Coop (another recently completed project of ours), and the front is surfaced with reclaimed barn wood."

Salvaged doors from old Chicago buildings were sliced up and turned into doors for the restrooms and a "door mosaic" on the rear wall of the seating area; the knobs were reused as coathooks along another wall. The walls near the coffee counter and kitchen are composed of industrial sheetrock scraps puzzle-pieced together.

Filter's owners were clearly busy furniture shopping while the shop was closed, because the ratty, coffee-stained couches have been replaced with stylish and clean (for the time being) vintage sofas and easy chairs artfully arranged throughout the seating area. It all makes for a very comfortable place to spend a couple hours with a latte and a laptop.

Stephanie Linnane hopes the homey atmosphere attracts more than just students and freelancers, though. "I'd like to do something different in terms of community," she says, explaining that she'd like to Filter play host to poetry readings, parent groups with their kids, club meet-ups and knitting circles. Don't worry, though, you won't have to contend with stray toddlers in the evening hours "I still want to appease Wicker Park hipsters, so it'll never be at night." She encouraged people to suggest events and activities by emailing

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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