After having to move locations and having redevelopment plans fall through, Hidden Pearl Coffee just came back bigger and better for its fifth anniversary.
[Editor's note to readers: This story was written before the current response to the coronavirus crisis to which the coffee shop has responded. "You can order pick up or delivery on our mobile-friendly website," it states on Facebook, noting new hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. "We know everyone is hurting, so we'll run specials when we can."]
The shop had a small reopening in December and plans to have a grand reopening later this year. Formerly known as Hidden Pearl Cafe, the coffee shop closed in January 2017 after its lease ended to make way for the McHenry Downtown Theater development.
Co-owner of Hidden Pearl Coffee Dan Kearns said he was ready to give up reopening the store in the long struggle to get the new location at 1250 N. Green St. redeveloped. The city shot down their redevelopment proposal in April 2018. But the support of those from the community who reached out and told Kearns and the team what the shop meant to them, changed Kearns' vision for the shop.
Hidden Pearl Coffee will occupy 3,600 square feet in the 7,000-square-foot building, where a new restaurant plans to take up the rest of the space, Kearns said.The coffee shop formerly operated out of a 1,300-square-foot space, so this will be an upgrade with room to fill an entertainment gap in McHenry County, Kearns said.
Hidden Pearl Coffee will serve alcohol and "upscale appetizers," he said.
For many, Hidden Pearl Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop. It’s a gathering spot for people with different backgrounds, political and religious views, Kearns said. The shop hosts political events, religious workshops, creative writing workshops and book signings, among others.
“When I first opened the coffee shop, I didn't know what I was getting into and it was quickly really clear to me that it was more of a community center than a coffee shop,” he said.
The team is planning to expand the “community center.” A "Talent Gallery" for 150 to 180 people will feature live entertainment such as poetry nights and comedy nights. They also plan to open a youth bookstore, and art events/galleries in the added event space. All revenue from the youth bookstore will be donated to a charity, Kearns said.
“We have kind of a welcoming space where you can be yourself," he said.