Sometimes small business isn’t about doing what’s easy. Instead, it is about values. Faith. And making the community a better place.
At least that’s the case for husband and wife duo Jean and Larry Murphy. The couple has owned Yo Fresh Cafe in Evanston for about three and a half years and Jean says she can’t believe how fulfilled it’s made them feel.
“We always dreamed of having a coffee shop as part of our retirement, but we wanted to combine it with fro yo in particular because it’s health-oriented and we wanted to feel pretty good about the product we were making available,” she said. “We also wanted to have a strong community service base to our business, which has really worked out well being part of the unique community that is Evanston.”
Located at 635 Chicago Ave. in Evanston, Jean describes Yo Fresh as a “community gathering place,” where they offer coffee and espresso drinks, light meals, pastries, frozen yogurt, smoothies and protein shakes. They also have free WiFi, board games, a community library and comfy seating throughout.
Coming into a new business wasn’t without its fair share of challenges, but Jean said all of them have been worthwhile.
She shared the reasons why in a recent conversation with The Main:
The Main: What has been the biggest challenge of your career and how did you overcome it?
Jean Murphy: Marketing! There’s someone who comes in every single day and says I didn’t know you were here. No matter how public you are or how many events you go to, it’s still a challenge to get the word out there. We have survived four winters, though, so we’re feeling pretty proud given that we’re a cold dessert place and people don’t usually think of that. So we’ve made some comfort food additions like mac and cheese and soup and that’s made all the difference with staying open during the wintertime.
TM: What do you most enjoy about your career?
JM: The people. We know so many people by name, to see kids having grown up from babe in arms to riding their scooters down, it’s just really exciting to see families grow. We put a lot of ourselves into the place. It’s constant work but we love every minute of you.
TM: Who inspires who and why?
JM: What’s beautiful is that there are so many people who want to help you and support you. When you talk with other small business owners, they share this and that. Other small businesses mentoring each other is an inspiration. The families that come in, and then the diverse community. There are people from a cross-section of America coming through. So there isn’t really one thing at all.
TM: What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
JM: Choose something that you love because if you really love it you won’t mind all the little things that you have to attend to like training staff for long hours and some of the sacrifices you have to make. We happen to love it so we’re willing to make those sacrifices. Then, knowing your population is very important. You’ve got to do some research and talk to a whole lot of other people in a similar business and learn from their experience.
At The Main, we seek to offer only the best to our residents living in our corner of Evanston. That is among the reasons why we believe in and strive to support our neighboring small businesses, like Yo Fresh Cafe and others along the Main Dempster Mile.
For more information, or to schedule a tour, call (847) 450-0115 or visit us online.