What may seem to just be a dog themed cafe is a small business with a mission to help find homes for Chicago’s sheltered dogs.
Believe it or not — some say it’s better than Starbucks. On top of that, their meaningful mission helps sheltered dogs in Chicago find their home.
Ludlow Charlingtons is a small-business coffee and pastry shop located at Clark and Fullerton in Lincoln Park. Naji Al-Awar and his family opened the shop in August 2021 along with three employees.
The store prides themselves on their service and mission. They serve pastries baked out of La Fournette and coffee from sustainable coffee bean supplier Counter Culture.
Ludlow Charlingtons says their mission is to “create a warm and inviting atmosphere for our customers and deliver them a great cup of coffee.” Most importantly, they are helping sheltered dogs in Chicago find their homes by donating 50% of profits from the store merchandise to their partner, Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control (FCACC).
“I went in on the weekend and the whole store was packed. The atmosphere is great,” said recent customer Emily Baca.
Some of Ludlow Charlingtons most popular products are their delicious bakery items and seasonal coffees. For each season, they come up with a creative flavor that fits the weather.
Currently, their seasonal flavors are caramel apple chai and pumpkin pie latte. Bakery items include different flavored croissants, danishes, beignets and even treats for dogs.
From a current employee’s perspective, “our most popular bakery item is the almond croissant, people love that one,” said Rachael Maguire.
Ludlow Charlingtons prioritizes their mission of serving great bakery items and fundraising for sheltered dogs. They fundraise through selling store merchandise and hosting adoption events.
In only two years of being open during a pandemic, Ludlow Charlingtons has had numerous fundraising events. Each event was held out front on the sidewalk with CACC volunteers and three adoptable dogs.
At the first event, which was in September 2021, they offered to make a framed portrait of the first dog adopted, which now sits on the store wall with names on plaques and adoption dates. The second event, which took place on Halloween, offered a portrait for any dog adopted and had two dogs’ photos framed.
Over the summer they held more events at the same location, including dog adoption events and a book reading of stories based on the dog portraits.
The devotion of Ludlow Charlingtons to their mission contributes to making an impact in the Chicago dog shelter community. According to the FCACC website, “Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control (FCACC) is the nonprofit group committed exclusively to helping save the lives of over 19,000 animals that come into custody of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) at 2741 S. Western each year.”
Being a small business, during a pandemic, while also advocating for these animals says a lot about Al-Awar’s business. Even Al-Awar himself works on the weekends when he is not watching his daughter.
Many small businesses like Ludlow Charlingtons have continued to remain committed to their customers and their mission.
You can visit Ludlow Charlingtons at 2425 N Clark St. in Chicago and stay updated with local dog adoption events on their Instagram.
Header illustration by Magda Wilhelm