Elgin mourns Chris Mau, 'fun-loving' owner of 'Doctor Who'-themed Blue Box Cafe
The Elgin community is mourning Chris Mau, owner of the "Doctor Who"-themed Blue Box Cafe, who died Saturday.
Mau, 54, had been battling melanoma for a year and a half, according to friends and family. His death comes just two months after his wife and cafe co-owner, Kathleen Kenney-Mau, died in February. They were married for more than 13 years.
His mother, Maren Olson of Wheeling, said Mau was a foodie and "just adored" the cafe, 176 E. Chicago St., known for its espresso coffee and signature sandwiches. The cafe has been a hub for live events, podcast fundraisers, record release parties, live theater, improv, mini comic book conventions and "Doctor Who" events.
"He was a fun-loving person," Olson said. "He was a Whovian and a bit of a geek."
Longtime family friend Nicole Chevalier, who lives in Northbrook, described Mau as a "gentle giant" and said Mau was a big athlete in high school and college, receiving a full-ride football scholarship to Drake University.
"Then he got very interested in the nerd culture as an adult," Chevalier said.
Mau lived in downtown Elgin's historic district with his wife.
"(He) and Kathleen loved the city feel that Elgin very much has," Chevalier said. "They were really dedicated supporters of the community."
Olson said employees at the cafe have been "just rocked by this."
Nathan Chesterfield, a supervisor at the cafe, said Mau was "all around a wonderful man."
"A perfect example of just how to be kind to people," Chesterfield said. "Him and Kathleen both were the lights of everybody around here."
Chesterfield was a regular at the cafe and dressed up as the Eleventh Doctor from the eponymous British sci-fi show for the cafe's opening in 2014, where he met Mau.
"It was always a place for me to go just to do work and get away," Chesterfield said. "The environment there still is second to none."
Chesterfield, who lives in South Elgin, said some employees called him their "extra dad."
"It's affected everybody," Chesterfield said. "Everyone around Elgin, you know, all I've been hearing all day is just how sorry everyone is and just how they can't imagine how something like this could happen."
Rob, Martha, and Molly Southgate of Southgate Media Group, a podcast company Mau was a part of, said he was "an integral part of our podcast company and our family."
"He was woven into every area of our lives," they said. "SMG and our family won't be the same without his presence, enthusiasm, and his unwavering support and love. This is a devastating loss compounded by the grief of recently losing Kathleen. He is profoundly missed."
Friends and family said the future of the cafe is still unknown, but it will be open Monday through Thursday this week, with plans to close early Thursday afternoon for the visitation.
While details aren't finalized, family and friends said the visitation will be open to the public Thursday at the Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, 305 Park St., in Elgin. They said there will be a service Friday at First Congregational Church of Christ, 256 E. Chicago St.