Walk into Quincy’s Café on any given afternoon and the first thing you’ll notice is the people.
Students clad in oversized headphones, hidden behind their laptops and towers of textbooks. Professors holding an orange coffee mug in one hand and a newspaper in the other. A poet scribbling down thoughts in his Moleskin.
Ismail Egilmez, owner of the café, says Quincy’s has something for everyone.
“I have 90-year-old women … playing cards games down to students studying, to locals who’ve been in town forever to artists to musicians sitting in the corner,” he said. “It’s what we are, the environment that I’ve set out … if you build it, they’ll come.”
Located on the corner of Edison Road and Route 23, Egilmez credits Quincy’s success over the last year in part to its central location.
“I’m at a good crossroads,” he said. “We’re next to the campus, obviously, which we totally love, we’re next to downtown, also next to Granger, which is very popular, and everybody moves through here.”
Egilmez opened Quincy’s Café one year ago with his father, Philip Egilmez, a Notre Dame alum. Ismail Egilmez had previously owned an art gallery in Chicago, which he was forced to close when the economy spiraled downward.
Opening his own café, he said, had always been a goal.
Now, the timing was right.
“It was harder and harder to find anything to really depend on … so the best answer to that was just to work for yourself,” he said. “So we came together, brought our heads together on it, and this is what came out of that.”
The quirky ambience of Quincy’s helps distinguish it from what Egilmez calls “sterile” coffee shops, chain stores like Starbucks and Seattle’s Best that have spread across the country since the early 1990s.
He said Quincy’s is an entirely different kind of venture.
“Just because the coffee associates us two doesn’t mean the whole idea of the business is [the same,]” he said. “This is more ‘take a break.’”
With its wooden tables, mismatched chairs and abstract artwork lining an entire wall, the atmosphere of Quincy’s is a major draw for creative types who find the South Bend area lacking in similar venues.
“It does build community really well, because people talk to each other and connections happen, it’s just great for the artists to be able to do that,” he said. “That way [I can] support doing the art, without completely depending on it, and still give back in that way.”
All of the artwork displayed is by local or regional artists. Egilmez also invites local musicians to play on a small wooden stage in the back of the café.
“There’s some weeks we have [music] Wednesday through Sunday, other weeks we have it just Thursday Friday and Saturday, but always Friday and Saturday and 90 percent of the time Thursday, Friday, Saturday, so yeah we really try to keep that going,” Egilmez said.
When it comes to food, Quincy’s also goes for local flavor.
“I think the signature thing is the ingredient,” Egilmez said. “I mean every restaurant is going to have a turkey sandwich, I mean we can’t patent that … it’s how you do it.”
All of the food is locally or regionally made, he said, and none of the ingredients are “skimped on.”
The coffee served at Quincy’s — on the pricier side at about two to five dollars a cup — is high quality and regionally sourced.
“We do Intelligentsia coffee because they’re a smaller business. I [found out] about them when I went to Chicago, basically I tasted that and I said I won’t go to any of the ‘other’ places,” he said. “It really is night and day.”
Egilmez said that despite doing very little advertising, numbers show Quincy’s has grown steadily each month since it opened last April.
But he said the timeline for possible expansion “kind of dictates itself.”
“We want to see if the cup keeps overflowing to see if that’s needed and so right now we’re at just about the right capacity with our shows and everything, so [eventually] expanding the venue so we can offer more, a little bigger of a stage,” he said.
Egilmez said he does not want to be the kind of owner that “sets and forgets,” failing to keep up with increased demand or customers’ needs.
“You have to keep moving with it a little bit, and change, but still keep the very main core,” he said. “I’m never going to lose what I’m about. Just [add] to it a little bit.”