The Jackalope Coffee & Tea House opening next week in Bridgeport

Jackalope Coffee & Tea House

Jackalope Coffee & Tea House

As a child, January Overton (a former TOC account manager) was on vacation with her parents when she saw a figurine of a jackalope—a mythical animal that's a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope—in an antique store. "Later I found out [jackalopes] weren't real, and I was heartbroken," Overton says. Still, she continued to love the folklore and mystery behind the jackalope, so much so that when she and her husband planned their coffee house, they named it (and decorated it) in the creature's honor. 

Overton, a proud Bridgeport native, has dreamed for years of opening a social, community space in the neighborhood. "There's never been a doubt in my mind that I would open anything anywhere but Bridgeport," she says. "I can walk into any business [in Bridgeport] at any given time and know probably four people." It's that sense of community she hopes to foster at the Jackalope, a place, she says, where both longtime Bridgeport residents and the new influx of artist-types can be comfortable. That's why she wanted a larger space (Jackalope has two rooms) where students can come in and do study groups or stay-at-home parents can come in and have playgroups. "We're striving to have that good, social community vibe where people don't have to feel like they have to be really quiet," Overton says. Speaking of noise, Overton and her husband both play in bands, and the Jackalope is zoned for live music.

The Jackalope will serve Metropolis Coffee—drip for the first couple weeks, then adding a pour-over option later—Rishi Tea, and baked goods (such as bacon buns and ham-and-cheese croissants) from local institution Bridgeport Bakery, with a menu of soups, sandwiches and salads coming in November. The shop is slated to open next week, but friends and neighbors have already been by and noticed the jackalopes. "People come in and they're like, is that real?," says Overton. "And I'm like, of course it is!"

The Jackalope Coffee & Tea House (755 W 32nd St) is slated to open Friday, September 22.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)