Betty Guider and Valerie Walker have taken their friendship to a higher plateau. Last July these two friends (since they were teens) opened one of the hippest coffee shops on Chicago's far West Side: Jumpin' Juice & Java. Perhaps it should be called a "coffee boutique."
The name is actually a franchise, explained Betty and Valerie. "We're the first in Illinois, the first Jumpin' Juice & Java. So we didn't come up with the name. However, we loved the concept."
The corporate office is in Idaho.
"We are the one's with licensing because they were not legally able to be a franchise here. We are a licensee, so we get to keep our own royalties, etc. and we are the first in Illinois. Usually they are on the West Coast."
Was the cozy, living-room setting intentional?
"Yes, this is our concept, our design; this is the way we wanted it. We're tied to their name and recipes, but we were able to do the store exactly the way we wanted to."
Betty and Valerie said they grew up attending the same church, New Mount Mariah Baptist Church. "As we grew older," Betty said, "we both realized we had some of the same interests. We both wanted to own our own business, we both loved coffee shops, and we both especially loved inspirational-type books. We got started by going out scouting coffee shops. We would sit in coffee shops because we liked the atmosphere. Originally, we were going to open up a Christian book store and offer coffee. But in the process of that, God kind of switched us around, and we decided to go with a coffee shop, and would sell inspirational books. We sell books and various teas. We not only wanted to be a coffee shop, but also a resource center. This is how we hooked up with Westside Health Authority because we want them to come in and do some workshops?"things such as healthy eating habits, benefits of the green teas and just to get the community involved."
The two proprietors summarized their business as a place where anyone can come and everyone is welcome. This is just one phase of their business enterprise. Betty said their legal name is RAPHA Inc.
"RAPHA is a Godly term, meaning 'God my healer.' That got started on the West Side, and we've always been on the West Side. We've always believed God would heal, and people would not be suffering, and we want to be a part of that. Being positive and having a positive outlook on life changes people and allows the creative mind to excel. Often the West Side gets a bad rap, and we would like to see the West Side empowered. Whenever you hear anything about the West Side, it is always something negative. So when we set out to open this business, we wanted to do it in excellence; we wanted it to represent what the West Side is going to be."
Jumpin' Juice & Java is located in the Galewood Plaza strip mall at 6606 W. North Ave. (773/385-6200).