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Gloria Jean's, coffee shop born in Chicago, set to expand its reach

Gloria Jean's Coffees is ready to focus again on its home base of Chicago after a trip around the world.

The coffee retailer founded by Gloria Jean Kvetko and her husband in 1979 in Chicago is now owned by Australia's Retail Food Group. In recent years, the brand maintained less than a dozen stores in the Chicago area, but it is now set to add at least seven more, according to Laina Sullivan, director of franchise development for Retail Food Group USA.

Most of those locations will be in northwest Indiana, where Sullivan said the company sees population growth and demand for specialty coffee as a ripe opportunity.

In total, five stores are planned for northwest Indiana, and two are set for metro Chicago. Sullivan, who declined to offer the store's exact locations because the leases have not yet been signed, said the brand is focused on adding stores with drive-thrus and locations with street visibility, but it will also add some locations in malls. Beyond the seven planned stores, a kiosk location is set to open at Louis Joliet Mall next month.

Mall space was a focus for Gloria Jean's in the early days, but in recent years, mall traffic has dropped significantly.

"We're not putting the malls in the rearview mirror, but we're exploring other options," she said. "Every place our customers are is where we need to be."

Earlier this year, the brand added some mall locations as well, including a kiosk at Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale.

Sullivan said she's looking forward to the new incarnation of the brand in its hometown, especially as more consumers demand unique brews.

"There was a lull (in the business), but now there's so much horsepower behind us because there's such a demand for high-end coffee," she said. "It's so exciting to be here, to bring the brand back; we're getting the band back together."

sbomkamp@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @SamWillTravel

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