With a promise of friendly drive-through service, Scooter’s Coffee coming to Wheeling

A Scooters Coffee franchise is set to occupy a spot on Wheeling’s Restaurant Row that once housed a different purveyor of caffeinated drinks and sugary pastries.

The new shop is planned for 310 N. Milwaukee Ave. That’s a brown, 800-square-foot building at the northwest corner of Milwaukee and East Strong Street.

A Starbucks store operated there from 2003 to 2022, village officials said. It relocated to 751 N. Milwaukee Ave., a more high-profile location near the Westin Chicago North Shore hotel.

Whereas the Starbucks had outdoor seating and a walk-up window, Scooter’s only serves drive-through customers.

  A Scooters Coffee franchise is set to take over this vacant building at 310 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling. Brian Hill/

A Chicago-based limited liability company called Kava Java will operate the franchise, documents indicate. The goal is to open by Nov. 1, Village Manager Jon Sfondilis said.

During a review of the proposal by the village board Monday night, Kava Java representative Jeff Tybon promised “quick, friendly drive-through service” at the Wheeling store.

After the discussion, the board approved a special use permit for the business. The permit was required because of the drive-through operation.

Later in the meeting, however, Trustee Joe Vito said he voted in favor of the permit even though he expects the business to fail. When asked by the Daily Herald about the remark, Vito said coffee is a very tough business.

“It’s impossible to get people off of Dunkin’ and Starbucks,” he said in a text message.

“The reality is, many new businesses fail,” Vito added. “I hope I’m proven wrong every time.”

Sfondilis declined to directly comment on Vito’s remark. However, he said the village’s dedicated economic development staff, grant opportunities for retailers and other programs show Wheeling supports new businesses.

Founded in Nebraska in 1998, Scooter’s Coffee expanded into Illinois in 2021, initially in downstate communities. Stores now can be found in Mundelein, Naperville, Bolingbrook and elsewhere in the state.

A Scooter’s Coffee shop has been proposed for Deer Park, too. Plans have yet to be approved by the village board there.

As of December 2023, more than 700 Scooter’s stores were operating in 30 states.

Scooter's Coffee franchise to open three suburban locations

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