This weekend has been so incredibly excellent – I caught up with old friends, had a proper beach day, and enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July, during which I watched one of my best guy friends propose to his girlfriend. But the part that actually relates to this blog is that I FINALLY MET TRAVIS SCHAFFNER AND TOLD HIM HOW COOL I THOUGHT HE WAS.
Eff yeah. I wanted to write about him a while ago and now I will.
Anyway, if you don’t know, Travis owns The Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park, which is a cafe/shrine to the 80s-early 90s. It’s got a Back to the Future replica Delorean, a Nintendo system in the back (complete with Duck Hunt) and Gremlins toys and Goonies posters and is constantly overrun with hipsters. At some point when I first moved to Bucktown, I think I stopped in for the throwback vibe and discovered that, in addition to soy lattes, they also peddle vegan doughnuts (really superior ones at that)! Bam, go-to cafe. I holed up on the couch by the window dozens of times to study during the MPH years.
At some point when I was there, I remember asking the barista to make sure the steamer for my latte was wiped off due to the milk allergy. “Oh don’t worry, we have a dedicated steamer for non-dairy drinks.” Oh? That’s nice! “Yeah, our owner, Travis, is really allergic to milk too.”
I mean when I think coffee shop, I think copious amounts of milk frothing everywhere. Not the first business I’d consider for someone with a dairy allergy.
But, how awesome. And yeah, why not take that dairy allergy and open up a cafe where people with similar restrictions can enjoy some good coffee and a doughnut? After I found that out, The Wormhole kinda reached beloved status for me, as did Fritz Pastry, where the vegan doughnuts and other offerings (pop-tarts!) are made (Fritz had different owners at one point, but Travis bought the place in 2011 – more on that in this RedEye article). I’d actually never been to Fritz, but I told myself I would go there someday and see where these magical doughnuts came from and maybe even meet the man himself. Maybe I’d even interview him for a blog post or something.
But I never really had the time or motivation to hike over there when I was in Bucktown and Wormhole was so much closer. Cut to now, when I live in Roscoe Village and Fritz is a very easy bike ride from my apartment. And last Saturday morning, I was craving something sweet after my bootcamp workout, and figured I’d go to Fritz on my way home.
So I go in and stroll up to the counter all, “I need something that’s vegan and nut-free.” Barista’s all like, “Okay, well there’s these doughnuts over here, and these muffins are all okay for you, and then there’s these cupcakes… oh and these scones here are vegan and nut-free too.” Ahhhhh! I was so overwhelmed I just went with a doughnut (cranberry-orange variety. for vitamins).
Anyway, while I was fishing out some money to pay for it, the barista goes “Hi, Travis,” so I’m all like “Wait, where’s Travis?!” and she points to the guy who has suddenly appeared next to me. So I turned to him and started babbling about my allergies and how much I loved The Wormhole and how awesome I thought it was that he owned a coffee shop even with a dairy allergy and how great it was that I could get a soy latte and a tasty doughnut, etc etc, all intents of any sort of “interview” forgotten (I’m sure he was busy anyway). But he let me shake his hand and introduce myself and he thanked me for my kind words.
No Travis, thank you! Because places like The Wormhole and Fritz exist, I can have a soy latte from somewhere other than Starbucks and not worry about any contamination, and I can have probably the best vegan doughnut in the city to boot… Oh, and Fritz also has a brunch menu with several vegan options (see post bemoaning the general lack of these) which I will come back to try in the near future. Again, you are awesome and inspiring, and I wish you the utmost success with all of your endeavors.
Oh and side note, another reason why I think Travis is cool is that he also seems to have a thing for classic RPGs, thus this Zelda-inspired Wormhole shirt that I have.