A mother-daughter duo with deep roots in the La Grange Park community plan to strengthen those ties even further with their new cafe and wine bar business endeavor.
Within the next few months, matriarch Donna Slivka, and her daughter, chef Andrea Slivka, are opening the Happier Now Cafe and Market at 1016 E. 31st St., La Grange Park.
The establishment will feature locally roasted coffee from Passion House Coffee Roasters, microbrewed beer from around the Midwest and a domestic-focused wine program.
Additionally, Happier Now Cafe and Market will offer a dine-in menu featuring small plates, soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as a selection of snacks, desserts and meals to reheat at home.
For Andrea Slivka, it’s a dream come true.
“Even before I went to culinary school, I’ve always kind of wanted to open something like this in the area,” she said.
Though she always loved cooking, Slivka did not initially consider turning her passion into a career.
“I think it was a presumption that women didn’t cook professionally and just that it wasn’t a career field available to me,” she said. “I had initially thought about culinary school when I decided to change my major, but chose to get a BA in marketing communications at Columbia College Chicago.”
Eventually, she went on to earn her culinary degree from Kendall College and after graduating in 2010 worked at a variety of Chicago area restaurants.
When she was furloughed from her job as a regional corporate chef for a large food distribution company in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, Slivka began driving more frequently from her home in Ukranian Village to her mother’s La Grange Park residence.
“And as I’d be going down 31st Street, I thought, ‘We just need something else here,’” she said. “There was nothing really local other than Posto 31 at that point. If you wanted to get coffee it was a chain or you had to go to one of the other nearby towns.”
Slivka decided to broach the idea of opening a local gathering place with her mother.
“And much to my surprise, she agreed,” Slivka said.
The duo’s goal for Happier Now Cafe and Market is to create a local, TV-free gathering place where guests can work during the day, enjoy a glass of wine while reading a book or meet up with friends for snacks and drinks.
“Or even pop in on your way home from work to have a glass of wine and pick up a meal to reheat at home with the family,” Slivka said.
With the desire to provide something for everyone, the menu will feature items designed for children as well nonalcoholic beverages.
Though formally educated at Kendall College, Slivka has been cooking with her parents since she was a small child and was influenced by her father’s Eastern European background, according to the Happier Now Cafe website. Her experience ranges from comfort food to casual fine dining.
For Donna Slivka, a La Grange Park resident for more than four decades, the cafe will help fill some of her free time. She retired from her job as a payroll specialist for BorgWarner Automotive after 22 years in 2018.
Her reaction to her daughter’s request to go into business together?
“I felt it was a good idea. She always had a passion for cooking and creating her own ideas,” Donna Slivka said.
She is excited to open a business in the place she has called home since 1979.
“Obviously I want it to be successful, but I also want it to become a meeting place for people in the area,” she said. “I want to see book clubs meet there … families to come relax and enjoy Andrea’s food.”
Happier Now Cafe and Market is expected to open within the next few months. For information about the cafe, visit https://www.happiernowcafe.com/.