New Geneva coffee shop opens just in time for Swedish Days

New Geneva coffee shop opens just in time for Swedish Days

  • Jacqueline Barr and her mother, Mary Barr, recently opened Cafe & Barr in Dodson Place in downtown Geneva. It's next to Love Theory Bridal shop, which is owned by Jacqueline's sister, Nikki Barr.

      Jacqueline Barr and her mother, Mary Barr, recently opened Cafe & Barr in Dodson Place in downtown Geneva. It's next to Love Theory Bridal shop, which is owned by Jacqueline's sister, Nikki Barr. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Posted6/12/2019 1:49 PM

If timing is indeed everything, then Jacqueline Barr and her mother, Mary Barr, hit that mark when opening the new Café & Barr gathering place in downtown Geneva last week.

The Swedish Days summer festival opens Tuesday night, and that should bode well for this new coffeehouse that also features wine, beer, pastries and sandwich wraps, as well as live music in the evenings.


Café & Barr hopes to lure morning commuters as well as those seeking a relaxing lunch or an evening with music and drinks.

The timing of the opening also won't hurt Mary's other daughter, Nikki Barr, who is owner of the Love Theory Bridal shop right next to Café & Barr in the Dodson Place retail setting along Third Street.

The daughters operate the businesses, while Mary Barr will help out as needed and handle the companies' financial books and tax paperwork.

The girls grew up in Sugar Grove, attending Kaneland schools, and have traveled the correct paths to get them where they are today as part of Geneva's popular retail landscape.

"I fell in love with the music and hospitality industry while working at Schubert's Tavern in Chicago for about two years, and I stayed in the business," Jacqueline said. "They got me into the music industry, and knowledge of beer and wine that came along with that."

Plus, there was something about the coffee shop atmosphere that has long appealed to her.

"I became infatuated with coffee shops and the feeling you get in them, whether you are a student or working and trying to stay on top of things when you are in an area that is not your home or office," she added.

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Nikki began working at David's Bridal in Hanover Park right out of college in 2009. She did marketing, photo shoot styling, customer service, sales and management for the business.

"I had a crash course in every department," Nikki said. "I had bounced around with some other boutiques and such, but that was my first introduction into the whole bridal world."

Two years ago, the Barrs began looking around the Tri-Cities area for a location for their businesses.

"We were all in Geneva having lunch one day and we narrowed it to downtown Geneva at that time," she added. "We knew it was where we wanted to be."

The fact the girls were able to land businesses right next to each other was simply a stroke of luck. They are located in suites previously used by Park Place Interiors and then a fitness center.


As for Love Theory Bridal, Nikki wants people to view the shop as a relaxed and intimate setting with no specific age group or demographic in mind.

"It's a passion for me and an industry I have worked in for a long time," Nikki said. "And this is such a dream for me, but I don't want customers to feel I am smarter than them, and I won't be pressuring them.

"This is a relaxed atmosphere, and this is my point."

Still an early riser:

Men and women who had the energy to participate in a 5:30 a.m. exercise class at the Norris Recreation Center the past 33 years likely had Jane Hansen as their instructor.

It's hard for some to come to grips with the fact that Jane and her husband Chris, a former St. Charles school board member and a longtime Realtor in this area, have moved to Marco Island in Florida.

In bidding her farewell to past class participants and fellow staffers at the center, Hansen said, "Words cannot express what working with you and the staff meant to me. You were there for me when my children were born, when I had multiple hip replacements and, sadly, when my parents died."

When Hansen first ventured over to the Norris Recreation Center, it wasn't like she couldn't wait to teach the earliest classes possible.

"That was the class that was open and, at that time, there were six men in the class, which was kind of unusual," Hansen said.

She found her niche in those early-morning workouts, discovering they were perfect for being able to exercise yet still work full-time and take care of her kids.

The Hansens bought a place in Florida nearly three years ago and had planned to move at some point. That time was now.

"I was happy to stay longer in Illinois, but you just don't know how your plans are going to work out if you wait, and that is why we decided to move," she said.

It was no surprise to hear Hansen say she continues to wake up early in the morning and has, in fact, sought a fitness center at which she can continue her cycling or core strength classes.

"I'm going to sub a class at a fitness center on Friday," Hansen said last week. "But they are not 5:30 a.m. classes because they don't do that here."

Hansen said she asked if a 7 a.m. class would work out OK. "They said that wouldn't go over so well either because it was still too early."

But she's ready to continue teaching no matter what.

"I worry about getting out of shape if I am not working as an instructor," she said. "You push yourself to a level when teaching that you may not do if you were just exercising on your own."

Still time to tee off:

If you are planning on playing in the TriCity Family Services golf outing Monday, June 24, at Prairie Landing Golf Course, stay alert.

I'll be out there banging the ball around, and that means I might be in the wrong fairway on occasion.

But it's a great course to play for a great cause. More than ever, an agency like this guiding adults and kids through difficult times is vital to our communities.

For those interested, you can still sign up on the agency website at or by emailing Michelle Rollins at

The music is back:

After some plumbing issues derailed the House Pub in St. Charles for a period of time, the business at 16 S. Riverside Drive will start up its music shows again.

Steve Dawson, Diane Christiansen and Scott Stevenson will bring their vocal and musical chops to The House Pub at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 16. A band called RNA will be the opening act.

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