House Cafe business thrives with new liquor license

By Keith Hernandez

DeKALB — Business has boomed for the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, since a provisional liquor license was approved just before the start of the spring semester, said owner Mark Robinson.

DeKalb City Council approved a provisional liquor license for the House Cafe on Jan. 9 after Mark said he needed the alcohol sales to cover operational costs since the October opening. The provisional nature of the license means it is not permanent. Mark said the venue is now making three times the amount of money it made before the license.

“We’re talking a significant increase in sales since we got the license,” Mark said. “We’re much closer to the numbers that we need to see.”

Mark struggled to obtain the license when DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery recommended that the license be denied because of the content of a background check on Martha Robinson, former co-owner and Mark’s wife, according to a Jan. 19 Northern Star article. However, the license was unanimously approved during a Jan. 9 city council meeting.

Mark also attributed growing sales figures to an increased social media presence on websites like Facebook. One avenue he’s recently explored is live-streaming events such as weekly open mic events every Monday night.

The wave of success has not come without difficulties, however, Mark said. Because the House Cafe holds so many types of events, he said he is learning the beer preferences of different crowds.

“We serve such a wide range of folks that, you know, it’s not like you have a bar and you’ve got your crowd and, you know, that’s who you serve,” Mark said. “For us, that crowd changes on a nightly basis. We might serve dozens of Hamm’s on one night, and the next night, it’s all craft beers.”

Mark and Martha Robinson took over the House Cafe and opened for a weekend of shows on Oct. 14 after the venue sat dormant for two months. The previous owners Brian and Alexandria Fausett closed the cafe Aug. 13.

House Cafe patrons can expect a light remodel and a new logo in addition to menu additions such as grilled cheese sandwiches, portobello mushroom sandwiches and organic fair trade coffee on April 1, Mark said.

Keith Hernandez is a staff writer. He can be reached at