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A New Look for an Old Tradition

March 23, 2016

retro4The Atrium Cafe within The Little Traveler, the cornerstone of Geneva's downtown shopping district, recently received a makeover. The cafe dates back to the early nineteenth century, when The Little Traveler was frequented by the carriage trade. Travel to Geneva, IL was often an all day affair, so Mrs. Kate Raftery, the store's founder, served tea and lunch to her guests in the intimate surroundings of her home. Kate made sure their drivers were also taken care of—they were served simpler fare in the courtyard, which is now the site of the Atrium Cafe.

Over time, the shop expanded and additions were built, enclosing the courtyard. Today the Atrium Cafe sets at the center of the store, but its high ceilings and generous lighting give the feel of being outdoors. 

Annette Shamloo, buyer for The Little Traveler Christmas and Fair Trade departments was the creative mind behind the cafe's redesign. She describes the new look as, "A little shabby chic, French café, trés èlègante, 100% Little Traveler."

cafeStore owner Mike Simon explains, "We’ve updated, remodeled, and painted many of the store’s rooms in the past few years, and the more we did, the more we realized that the Atrium Café was looking a bit tired in comparison." 

Shamloo explains, "My challenge was to retain the ambiance and nostalgia that gives the cafe its character while presenting a fresh face and a sense of what's happening now. The cafe is like a Little Ambassador or the heart, if you will, of The Little Traveler."

Customer response has been positive. Simon says, "My favorite reaction came from a long-time friend who used to work for Mrs. Raftery and has been coming to the Atrium Cafe for most of her 80 plus years, first with her mother, then with her children, and now with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  After her first post-remodeling visit, I asked her what she thought, and she said, 'I have two reactions. First, it’s beautiful, and second, it’s long past due.'”

David Bogash, manager and head chef of the Atrium Café says the fresh, crisp new look has given him fresh inspiration for the spring and summer menu. "We'll be trying to do more with fresh local ingredients incorporated into our menu items," Bogash says.

The Atrium Cafe is open from 10am-4pm Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the cafe serves brunch from 11am until 3pm.





Little Traveler
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