Super Cup offers coffee, conversation
Bill Wegner (right), owner of Super Cup Coffee Shop, talks with customer Mary Rita Shull (left) of Morton Grove while at the business on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in Morton Grove. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: October 1, 2012 8:16AM
MORTON GROVE — When you walk into Super Cup, it doesn’t take long to realize you’re not in a chain coffee shop.
From the flashing neon “Open” sign in the window to the somewhat loud discussion going on among a group of customers to owner Bill Wegner himself, the shop is not a place you can visit in anywhere but Morton Grove.
“It’s like an extended family,” said Wegner, who lives in Skokie. “We’re sort of like a Cheers. Everybody knows you when you come in here.”
The motto on what Wegner admits is an outdated website is “A great cup of coffee with a side of abuse.”
“I enjoy getting abused sometimes. They know it’s coming back,” Wegner said.
And then there is the other motto, he said.
“Our motto’s the customer’s not always right,” Wegner said.
Wegner is as likely to serve his freshly-brewed Casteel coffee in a cup contributed by the Morton Grove or Northbrook police or a local school as in one of the Superman cups that Wegner said seem to keep disappearing.
Many regulars have their favorites and expect their coffee to be served in only that cup, Wegner noted.
“Certain people only drink out of a certain cup. I had a lady in the morning, she said ‘That’s not my cup’ and I had to put it in a different cup,” he said.
Wegner, 58, is far from the perky young baristas that tend to populate the chain coffee stores.
He worked at the Mercantile Exchange until about six and a half years ago when he said he admittedly overpaid for the coffee shop. He has held different jobs trading milk and other dairy products.
Wegner said he used to stop by the coffee shop before he went to the Mercantile Exchange, noting he liked the camaraderie.
“I liked the clientele. I was ready for something different,” he said.
“I always thought it would be nice to own a coffee shop or a bar, but I could never stand the smoke in a bar.”
The shop, at 8509 Fernald, attracts some commuters headed to the Metra station. Wegner said about 60 or 70 percent of his customers are locals, although he also has customers from other towns attracted by the coffee and conversation.
Wegner knows most of them, and easily points out the 80-plus-year-old Republican, and the “Democratic church lady. We’ve got our resident Italian, we’ve got our Socialist.”
One of his regulars had to move to Inverness to help out a family member, but still makes the trip back to Morton Grove for coffee.
One of the regulars, Ron Rendina, used to meet with friends at a Starbucks in his hometown of Park Ridge. But he decided to commute to Super Cup for a cup of coffee or tea and some lively talk.
“I enjoy the people here,” Rendina said. “There’s no discussion at Starbucks.”
Wegner said Super Cup is gradually becoming one of those neighborhood hangouts where people like to go as much for the people as the products.
Among the regulars is Police Chief Mark Erickson. Mayor Dan Staackmann, Wegner said, stops by every Saturday.
“If you want to know what’s going on in Morton Grove this is the place to come,” Wegner said.
Wegner conceded it hasn’t been easy staying in business, especially during a long period when nearby Lincoln Avenue was torn up while the city completed a streetscape project.
Also, being away from the corner at Lincoln hasn’t helped
“Being 60 feet from the corner makes a huge difference in clientele,” Wegner said, although he noted he is having a lighted sign made for the corner and the village has given him permission to put it out.
It also doesn’t hurt that his wife has taken his trader job.
“I gave her my old job. She’s the diary queen,” he quipped.
But despite the problems, Wegner said he enjoys being the coffee and abuse guy in Morton Grove.
“I like the interaction with the people during the day,” he said.
“You’re here now. What are the people doing? They’re talking to each other,” Wegner said. “That’s a great thing.”
Super Cup is open from 6:30 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m. though Wegner said he stays open later if there are still customers.
The shop caries a variety of coffee drinks, as well as sandwiches and snacks.