Black-owned and operated craft coffee shop Overflow Coffee works to expand, as founder seeks to inspire entrepreneurs

CHICAGO (CBS) – Overflow Coffee is one of the only Black-owned and operated craft coffee shops in the city – and as it works to expand, its founder also wants to pay their success forward.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported Wednesday, the coffee shop wants to support Black, Latinx, and women entrepreneurs get their own start.

Ask entrepreneur Brian Jenkins, founder and president of Entrenuity, what fills his cup. He will tell you it’s faith, family, and fueling the next generation of Chicago entrepreneurs.

“For me, it’s just a sense of responsibility to serve,” Jenkins said.

Entrenuity is headquartered at 1449 S. Michigan Ave. in the South Loop. Downstairs, you’ll find craft coffee, locally-made pastries, and music at Overflow Coffee. But upstairs, you’ll find mox.E – a coworking support space that empowers people to transform their ideas into business.

“Our goal is to grow Black and brown, and women-owned businesses,” Jenkins said.

The South Loop building has its own entrepreneurial history. It is the original home of Vee-Jay Records – the largest Black-owned record label in the 1950s and 60s.

Vee-Jay was known for his roster of blues and R&B musical artists – including John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Betty Everett, Jerry “Iceman” Butler, and Gene Chandler – as well as the Four Seasons.

The label also famously released the first Beatles record for the US market in 1963.

“We had no idea that The Beatles were brought to the US by Vee-Jay,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins and his team now use an original photo of the Vee-Jay executive team – Jimmy Bracken, Ewart Abner, and Vivian and Calvin Carter – as inspiration.

“We have that entrepreneurial legacy of what Vee-Jay brought to the table in this building,” Jenkins said.

And now Jenkins and his team are fueling Overflow to grow.

“I want to grow. I want to expand. I want to create opportunities for people just like me,” Jenkins said.

That opportunity will come through a program – the Chicago Venture Summit with World Business Chicago. Overflow will expand to Austin – Jenkins’ West Side neighborhood. It will find a home in the Soul City Corridor – along Chicago Avenue between Austin Boulevard and Cicero Avenue.

The Austin community does not have many Black-run, locally-operated craft coffee shops.

“That’s something we want to be able to change, and be able to offer a resource like this in the Austin community,” Jenkins said.

Manny Flores, chief executive of the nonprofit development company SomerCor, will help navigate the expansion.

“Here in our communities on the West Side and the South Side of Chicago, we see the need for more development,” Flores said.

Specifically, they want to see more development from Black, Latinx, and female-owned businesses who have a hard time getting capital – but need spaces like to shine.

“A lot of communities do not have this, right?” Flores said. “And the reality is a lot of communities do not have small businesses.”

For Jenkins, it’s a passion to pass his South Loop space along to others.

“We’re not just doing this for us,” he said. “We’re doing this with the intention that we can be a resource for others.”

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