Know Your Neighbors: Luenetha P Epperson of Jazi Mama’s Café

Luenetha Epperson, owner of Jazi Mama's Cafe

It wasn’t that long ago that I did not drink coffee. But now I could not imagine my life without it. And that isn’t hyperbole. So when I heard about a new coffee shop opening in Berwyn, it caught my attention. In checking out the website for Jazi Mama’s Café, something else caught my attention – the ‘About Us’ page of the site, describing the owner of the newly opened shop, Luenetha Epperson.

Luenetha describes opening the café as a ‘dream come true’. It was a dream that began back in college, now being realized after she spent 15 years in corporate America, at a Fortune 500 company. It was in that position that she honed her collaborative leadership style, people and mentorship skills. Today she is using those same skills and tireless work ethic to bring Berwyn coffee lovers a new place to call ‘home’. According to the café’s website, the goal is “to be a cornerstone in the community for years to come.”

Take a few minutes to meet your new Berwyn neighbor, then stop by and say hello in person (you know you want one of those cookies).!

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Around Oak Park
You recently opened Jazi Mama’s Café in Berwyn, congratulations! Can you remember when you first thought about opening your own coffee shop? Where did the idea come from?

The week before college graduation, my best friend and I were discussing what we would miss about college. For me, it was coffee shops. My best friend suggested I own my own shop. She thought I was perfect for it. I had no business sense at the time or financial resources. I dismissed it and got a job at an insurance company paying benefits on medical policies.

After 4 years, I found Grainger. I seemed to flourish and hone skills I never knew I had. The reality of owning my own business started to become attainable. I realized that I was being groomed for something. Towards the end of my 11th year there, I started thinking seriously about owning the café. I had a clear vision and had worked through a lot of the fear by the end of my 14th year at Grainger.

And before that, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist. I wanted to paint.

Do you live in Berwyn? How would you describe the perfect day here?

I live in Bellwood, IL. I wanted to be in a residential neighborhood with great neighbors. I got in the car one day and drove until I found the perfect spot.

(But the perfect day in Berwyn) would be warm sunshine, people walking their dogs, kids going to school, runners jogging down the street, commuters going on with their business. Festivals, activities. folks out and about. The shop doors never closed because so many people are walking in.

And what can those visitors to the café expect? What is the ‘mission statement’ of Jazi Mama’s café? And what questions do you get most often?

To provide my guests great coffee, great service, homemade pastries and great food in a warm, friendly environment. I want to connect with people and give them a great gathering place.

(Questions we get most often are) How long have you been open? Why Berwyn?

In your opinion, what are the top things someone should consider before opening their own business?

1. Will you have working capital at the end of the project?
2. Determine what your niche will be. Guests can go anywhere else. What niche will you demonstrate to get them to come to you?

And what resources would you recommend to someone starting a business of their own?

The SCORE organization definitely – I met with Ann Kennedy and Keith Coleman. Ann told me, you have a great idea, put it on paper. Ideas become a lot clearer on paper. Keith put me in touch with the right people to network with.

Talk to many people that are in the business you want to go into. They have walked your shoes and can help you tremendously.

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You can brighten it with your own light. Use the internet to research how others started. There is a ton of information available to you.

What is the best lesson you have learned so far?

Make mistakes only once!

What inspires you?

I have this internal drive. I want to thrive in every area of my life. Not for any other person. I live to serve God and give him the glory for every lesson in life.

If you suddenly had 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?

I would get more paperwork done, I would spend more time with my kids and I would paint more.

Finally, what is your favorite season?

Fall is definitely my favorite season. I love the temperature. I love the color of the trees. I enjoy barbecues more in the fall than I do summer. I love taking 3-mile walks in the fall. I love how the season changes into the holiday season. I do miss swimming with the kids in the summer. But Fall is definitely my favorite season.

To get great coffee and great food and/or to get in touch with Luenetha, visit:
Luenetha P Epperson
Jazi Mama’s Café
6305 Roosevelt Rd
Berwyn, Illinois
Phone: 708.788.6575


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