Ain’t She Sweet Cafe drops plan to open eatery in Woodlawn

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AIN’T SHE SWEET CAFE owner Margot Strotter (second from left) participated in the grounbreaking ceremony of the Woodlawn Station. Strotter dropped plans to open a new cafe inside the complex after she saw bullet holes in the windows of the new site last year.

Crusader Staff Report

Ain’t She Sweet Café, the successful and popular Black-owned eatery in Bronzeville, has dropped plans to open a new location in Woodlawn.

In 2017, owner Margot Strotter announced plans to open an Ain’t She Sweet Café during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Woodlawn Station, a $29 million, mixed-used affordable housing development located at the northeast corner of Cottage Grove and 63rd Street.

But the Crusader has confirmed that Strotter has dropped those plans after she learned that the windows of her new site were vandalized with bullet holes while the store was being built.

Strotter said she did not feel safe opening a new Ain’t She Sweet Café in the area.

The Crusader confirmed Strotter’s withdrawal with the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the developer of Woodlawn Station.

“‘Ain’t She Sweet’ is not coming to Woodlawn. However, there is a good deal of interest in Woodlawn Station from a number of other businesses,” said Brian Berg, spokesperson for POAH. “We’re confident there will be a good mix of new retail in the commercial space which will well-serve the Woodlawn community. Since making the repairs to the storefront we can report that there have been no other incidents.”

The decision is a blow to the Woodlawn Station, which sought prominent, high profile businesses like Ain’t She Sweet Café to open a location in the complex.

After her announcement to open an eatery in Woodlawn, Strotter catered the lunch at the groundbreaking ceremony, fueling excitement and anticipation among residents.

Excitement is still brewing about the Woodlawn Station. Daley’s, Chicago’s oldest restaurant, will soon move into the complex after operating 126 years across the street.  The development will have 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail and commercial space. Daley’s will anchor the 70-unit complex.

Strotter signed on as the first commercial tenant. The Woodlawn location would have been her third Ain’t She Sweet Café, which has eateries in Bronzeville and Beverly.

The first Ain’t She Sweet Café opened in August 2006 near 45th Street and Cottage Grove. The cafe moved to its present Bronzeville location at 526 E. 43rd St. in 2011. The Beverly location opened in 2017.

The eateries have won the hearts of many loyal patrons who loved Ain’t She Sweet’s wraps, paninis, salads and smoothies. The eatery’s Caribbean jerk chicken wrap remains a top seller that has helped make Ain’t She Sweet Café a success story for Strotter.

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