Highland Park commuters are about to get a morning rush once again.
The City Council approved on Aug. 21 a three-year lease with a new vendor to serve up coffee and breakfast inside the Central Street Metra Station, 1700 St. Johns Ave.
The agreement was awarded to Cafe Lumie’re, a concept from Maria Solorio, who previously operated a business inside the Metra station, according to city documents.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with a new concessionaire for the HP Metra Station,” City Manager Ghida Neukirch said in an email. “The owner is outstanding to work with, and will bring an array of coffee, juice, and breakfast goodies including homemade empanadas.”
Cafe Lumie’re reportedly will serve coffee, juice and smoothies, along with some breakfast foods and empanadas. Solorio told The Record the cafe will operate from about 6 a.m. to noon on weekdays and she is excited to get started, hoping to open in September or October.
Solorio grew up cooking for others in Mexico — “since I was 10 years old,” she said. She has worked in restaurants and been a personal chef. Now 70, the Lake Forest resident is excited to start her new venture, Cafe Lumie’re — which she said is a variation on her name: Maria Luisa.
The City of Highland Park manages the space and previously leased it to Morning Blend, which closed during the first year of the pandemic despite the City offering several months of rent abatement.
With low ridership during the first years of the pandemic, the City could not find a vendor.
Reigniting the train station cafe was one of the City’s 2023 goals. In October 2022, the City requested proposals for the space but did not receive any. Solorio then read about the opening and met with the City about her idea, which has been in development ever since. An on-site inspection took place Aug. 17.
As part of the agreement, Cafe Lumie’re will pay $100 monthly in rent to the City in the first year and $200 per month in the second year. In the third year, rent reportedly will increase in alignment with the consumer price index.
“In consideration of unknown ridership growth in Metra, rising food costs and the needed equipment investment to start operations in this location, (City) staff and Solorio worked out a low-entry to market rent rate for the first 12 months,” according to a memo from Chris O’Neill in the city manager’s office.
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