So you thought Pat Hill would retire from the Chicago Police Department and start baking cookies? No, the multi-talented Hill has now opened an Internet Cafe at 1401 E. Dorchester. The grand opening was last Saturday. A former Chicago police officer and executive director of the Afro-American Police League, Hill has spent plenty of time in the limelight. As a youth, she excelled in athletics and was part of Mayor Daley’s Youth Foundation in 1968. One of Hill’s mentors was the late Olympian Willye White, and Hill missed making the U.S. Olympic Team in 1968 by a hair.
She recently published her first book, “Black Ain’t Blue,” and had her first booksigning on Oct. 21 at the Woodson Library. The book is a historical perspective of law enforcement in America, and why many African-Americans distrust police.
AWN: What made you decide to open a restaurant, bookstore and Internet Cafe?
Hill: I think being a product of the 1960s, there were certain objectives stated to us. At certain stages of our lives, we would attempt to achieve goals as we grew older. One of the things was if and when you ever had an opportunity to retire from the company, you should attempt to develop some type of entrepreneur business, and this is something I wanted to do. One is, I wanted a place where we could come together and share information, obtain information, relax over coffee and sandwiches, it’s kind of like a Borders with soul. The emphasis is not so much books-it is a cyber-cafe, deli and bookstore available for private functions. We have some entertainment, we are going to have some radio remotes, a children’s pavilion on Saturday mornings where there will be offered lessons in computers, vintage cartoons, African-American cartoons like Fat Albert, Jackson Five and some Afrocentric movies. And they can have a sandwich and visit while maybe the mother’s going shopping.
AWN: You have a place for computers?
Hill: Yes, it’s a Y5-the entire building. There is no code and there is no fee. You come in free-if today is indicative of what we can expect, I think coming to 75th & Dorchester was a good idea.
Our menu is very ambitious and we are starting with Reuben sandwiches, vegetarian, tuna, turkey & cheese, barbecue chicken sandwich and we will expand. We also have various teas such as Kenyan Tea, Magnolia Tea and former Ambassador Carol Mosley Braun has her line called Ambassador Organic Coffee/Tea. We’re trying to feature African-American products, and that is why [we offer] Kenyan and Ethiopian products. We have Magnolia Tea, which is a local product and the owner, Calvita Frederick-Sowell, and I attended school together. We also have salads and on the weekends we will serve breakfast-pancakes, oatmeal, fruit-and it’s somewhat limited to what I feel like on that day.
AWN: What kinds of events will you be featuring?
Hill: Yes, as a matter-of-fact, officially we’re using this location for the headquarters of the Cynthia McKinney campaign for president. She is running for president on the Green Party. So she will be coming here on Dec. 15 for pre-Kwanzaa celebrations as well as Olympian John Carlos.
AWN: Where would you like to see this venture go?
Hill: To become a hub where people can feel safe and bring their children. We want to focus on family, but we also want to get back to black people sharing ideas and information and liking each other. I know I’m not going to get rich, but that is not my objective. I want to be able to keep the building and keep the business open, and keep my friends and people coming in.