Courtesy of Kribi Coffee

Kribi Coffee’s Forest Park location, 7324 Madison St., is looking to become more of a specialty cocktail lounge, with music, events and bar service – but only in the evenings. 

Abbey Brumfiel, the roastery’s director of operations, said they wanted to be able to take advantage of the fully renovated lounge and be more of a community gathering place. The downstairs Ubuntu Lounge already has a bar – they just need to get a liquor license to be able to serve alcohol. Kribi plans to serve cocktails in the evening, and customers will still be able to order coffees and teas Kribi serves during the day.

Brumfiel said the changes will happen “no later than June,” depending on how soon they receive a liquor license. Ideally, she said, they want to start evening hours by mid-April. Brumfiel said they are aiming for a relaxed lounge vibe, and while they do plan to host performances, they aren’t looking for anything loud or disruptive.

 Previously known as Counter Coffee, the Forest Park coffee shop was remade as Kribi Coffee Air Roasters to recognize Jacques Shalo’s Cameroonian heritage. It opened a second location in Oak Park, at 1033 South Blvd., in October 2022.

Brumfiel reflected that the issue with the downstairs basement space has always been that customers, even those who have been inside, don’t necessarily realize it’s even there. It didn’t help that, in November 2021, the lounge flooded, and Kribi spent the next eight  months repairing it.

Kribi was closed to indoor dining for much of the first year of the pandemic. Brumfiel said the customers were the coffee shop’s lifeblood, and it seemed only fitting they would use the lounge to give back to the community.

“The community really helped us get through this, so we wanted to really be able to reach out and support it,” she said.

As part of that effort Ubuntu Lounge will showcase art by local artists. A comedy open mic will take place every first Tuesday of the month, and Kribi hopes to get in a “singing open mic” and performances by local acts.

“We had some inquiries from artists who want to perform live music,” Brumfiel said. “Honestly, any way we can showcase our awesome community, we would do it.”

Still, she said they don’t want to have “loud music where you can’t hear yourself talk.”

“Our goal is to have a much more relaxed, chill vibe,” Brumfiel said. “[It] will just be open to everybody to have a quiet drink with their friends.”

The coffee shop is currently open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Brumfiel said they haven’t decided how late Kribi would stay open, but she noted that under Forest Park liquor laws a business can’t have live entertainment after 11 p.m., so it won’t be later than that.

“We’ll be more like a specialty cocktail lounge rather than a bar,” she said. “We’re going to have a limited number of liquors and cocktails available, we’re going to create signature drinks.”