Sipping Turtle Cafe, a cozy corner spot on a quiet stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, will open Thursday, serving up coffee, bubble tea, sandwiches, steamed baos and pastries. Husband and wife owners Peter Shen and Sarinporn “Aye” Ingontkam hope to be part of the revitalization efforts in Avondale and create a space where the community can come together.
“I’m a big believer of being a neighbor and living in the neighborhood,” Shen said. “I want to help the community. I want to be the anchor store and I want to be part of the rejuvenation of this neighborhood.”
Shen’s background is in IT and hosting social events like bar crawls and parties. Ingontkam has worked in restaurants all her life, from her aunt’s noodle shop in Thailand to Thai restaurants in Chicago, and also owned her own turtle-themed horticulture shop in Thailand. Shen had always wanted to open a cafe, but it wasn’t until he met his wife that he found the right person to do it with. Shen said the name of the restaurant, not to be confused with the now-closed Slurping Turtle, is a nod to Ingontkam’s previous business and is meant to invoke an image of a turtle leaning back and enjoying a coffee.
The cafe will serve sourdough tartines, open-face sandwiches topped with avocado and dragon fruit or Parmesan cheese, ham and a sunny-side up egg, and croissant sandwiches, filled with ham and cheese or smoked salmon and goat cheese. There will also be an assortment of steamed lotus buns filled with barbecue pork or teriyaki beef, plus salads and snacks. Coffee is from Chicago-based Stivers Coffee and teas are from Ahmad Tea. There are also a number of smoothies and milk bubble teas, plus assorted pastries.
Shen said he hopes everyone will feel welcome in the space, with hanging plants, minimalist decor, plenty of outlets, Wi-Fi and lots of light.