Energetic ‘Music Man’ opens at Goodman

(Published July 10, 2019)

By Bob Oswald

The Goodman Theatre is closing out the 2018-2019 season with an energetic presentation of “The Music Man.” 

Meredith Wilson’s story about con man Harold Hill who plans to swindle the town of River City, Iowa with the promise of a band opened to an enthusiastic crowd Monday night and kept a rousing pace throughout.

Hill, played by Goodman alum Geoff Packard, gets things moving as he arrives in town and convinces citizens to support the band. Packard and Monica West, who plays the town’s librarian Marian Paroo, work beautifully together and don’t miss a note while keeping up with the dazzling and intense dance moves worked out by choreographer Denis Jones.

The production is directed by Mary Zimmerman, who has directed an impressive 16 productions during her 25 years at the Goodman Theatre.
Following the opening, the Goodman Theatre announced it has added a second and final extension week to “The Music Man.” Due to an “overwhelming demand for tickets,” the show will run through Aug. 18. in the 856-seat Albert Theatre. Tickets, from $25 to $142, are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/MusicMan, at 312-443-3800 or at the box office, 170 North Dearborn.

CPD: Woman sexually assaulted following theft on Randolph Street

(Published July 9, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

A woman had her phone snatched and was sexually assaulted on Randolph Street between 3 and 3:40 a.m. July 9.

According to Chicago police, a 27-year-old female was waiting at a Red Line platform at State and Lake when an unknown black male took her phone and started running. 

She chased him into the street and eventually to the 100 block of East Randolph, at which point the offender sexually assaulted the victim, police said. The offender fled the scene.

No one is in custody, police said. The victim was transported to Northwestern in stable condition. Area Central detectives are investigating.

Primark fashion to open first Midwest store in Chicago

(Published July 5, 2019)

Primark to bring its “Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices” to the Midwest for the first time

Primark, the international retailer that offers “Amazing Fashion at Amazing Prices,” in July announced it will open its first store in the Midwest in Chicago. Primark has signed a lease with The Georgetown Company for 35 N. State St., Chicago, the largest lease on State Street since 2014. 

The company has not announced an opening date yet. The location is a former GAP store. 

Primark will take over the entire 45,000-square-foot building and will trade from 36,200 square feet of retail space over three levels. Before an opening date is announced the iconic property is undergoing a complete renovation tailored to fit Primark’s specific needs, including modernization of the exterior and complete interior remodeling. 

Located at the intersection of State and Washington Streets, 35 N. State St. sits in the heart of the Loop. Home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, entertainment options, cultural institutions and world- famous landmarks, the immediate neighborhood has long been known as one of the top shopping destinations in the United States.

“Primark has been searching for a Midwest location as part of the company’s continued expansion into the United States,” said Tom Meager, Property Director for Primark. “We are fortunate to have found and secured such an impressive location in the heart of the vibrant Chicago market.”

“We recognized an amazing opportunity with the State Street corridor as one of the most sought after retail destinations in the country,” said Adam Flatto from Georgetown. “As one of the fastest growing retailers in the United States, Primark is a perfect fit for the building and will be a welcome addition to a popular list of neighboring businesses in the Loop.” 

Founded in 1969, Primark is a leading fashion retailer headquartered in Ireland. Primark offers a diverse range of the latest trends in women’s, men’s and children’s wear, homeware, accessories, beauty products and more at affordable prices.

A good, long walk: Therapy for the soul

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jon Cohn

Stress is something nearly everyone has to deal with. Thankfully, in this modern age, there are plenty of potential remedies available.

Varieties of yoga, mental meditation and restorative mindfulness practices (not sure what mindfulness is, but if it works, I am all for it) are just a few of the popular options for getting rid of stress.

But nothing works like a nice long walk to regenerate the spirit, get the blood flowing and cut through daily strife.

A walk offers great tension relief, heart health and can be mentally refreshing. Walking is easy on the body and fits around almost any schedule. There is no need to sign up for classes and there are no annual fees.

There are many wonderful potential walks in the nearby Lakeshore East vicinity—the Riverwalk, Michigan Avenue or any Chicago streets—where you can get your exercise and do some great people watching as well. Then there is also the quieter, more sublime beauty of Northerly Island or a morning beachfront stroll.

My favorite walk includes a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—the best tacos in Chicago.

For this route, head to the lakefront and begin walking south. Stroll past the beauty of DuSable Harbor and Monroe Harbor, gazing quickly at illustrious Buckingham Fountain as you pass by. Then around the bend, toward Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. Take a peek back for one of the most gorgeous views of the Chicago beachfront and skyline. But don’t stop there. Keep going as the path dead ends finally at Twelfth Street Beach.

There you will find some of the best tacos on the beachfront at Del Campos Tacos. Fresh, tasty and filling, they are a just reward for a great, long walk.

After the tacos, there could be a temptation to Uber home. No, no, no. You worked too hard for all this, and the walk back is just as invigorating as the walk there. 

Top Three Factors To Consider Before You Buy

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Sheetal Balani

In the Summer of 2002, my husband and I purchased our first home together, a gorgeous brick loft in the heart of River North. Though we didn’t necessarily need a two-bedroom place just yet, we decided to stretch the budget and purchase a larger place so that we could stay longer, as our family grew. We lived there for six years; several years longer than if we had opted for the one-bedroom.  

Planning for a family and purchasing a home to create long term wealth is a top motivating factor for many prospective buyers entering the real estate market. When you pay rent, you don’t actually own anything. When you pay a mortgage, you increase your percentage of ownership with every payment you make. If you don’t currently own your home, the concept may seem daunting.  Honestly, it’s all about knowing where to begin.  

At parties, in the elevator, and on my walk across the park to Mariano’s, I often get asked

“When is the best time to buy?” My answer: when it’s right for you. But what does that mean?

Simply put, you should first consider three essential factors: personal, financial, and professional. I’ll elaborate.

Personally – Are you single? In a relationship? Starting or growing your family? Do you plan on living in the same city for the next 3+ years? You’ll want to consider these factors before you purchase. 

Financially – Have you saved enough for a down-payment? Well qualified buyers typically put down 10-20%. Have you spoken to a lender and been pre-approved for a mortgage? Do you have a solid understanding of how much home you can afford? Do you understand what to expect in terms of closing costs? Often I’ll sit down with a first-time buyer to discuss the buying process, and the scenario unfolds something like this: excitedly, the prospective buyer pulls out his/her cell phone to show me the myriad homes they’ve been flagging online. My immediate response is typically the same: Have you met with a lender yet? It’s best to meet with a lender sooner rather than later, so you can hone in on properties that meet your parameters.  

Professionally – Do you have a stable job that allows you to pay your mortgage every month? If you’re on a solid career path and are planning for your future, now may be a great time to consider buying your first home, and reap the many rewards of home ownership.  

After all, you are always going to be paying to live somewhere. You may as well pay yourself, and accumulate wealth along the way.  

Sheetal Balani is a senior broker at Compass, with over 15 years experience in residential real estate. Contact her at (312) 863-9555 or Sheetal.Balani@Compass.com

Chicago PD: New Eastside June festivals go off without incident

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

Chicago police officers gave New Eastside residents some good news at the monthly CAPS meeting.

Police sergeant Anthony Dombrowski reported June events,  Blues Festival and Gospel Festival, saw few problems, despite drawing large crowds to Millennium Park.

“Things went pretty well in those two events. We had challenges last weekend because there wasn’t just the Blues Festival, there was also a Formula One event at Soldier Field,” Dombrowski said.

In addition, he said the police continue to crack down on people who trespass at Vista Tower. The tower is nearing completion, and Dombrowski said the Vista, which will be one of the tallest buildings in the city, continues to draw explorers.

“We had some incidents at the Wanda Tower” he said, referring to the project by its former name. “We’ve had some young rascals that want to challenge the height of the building. We’ve had people parasail off the building, successfully.”

He said police are arresting people who trespass on the property.

“We had two guys who were intoxicated and decided to climb up the tower,” Dombrowski said. “People in the community started Facebooking this live on their community pages. They did it during the day where it was pretty obvious they were doing it. We arrested both gentlemen who are suburbanites.”

With warmer months, police are also seeing an uptick in drag racing on Lower Wacker Drive. Historically the phenomenon has been a problem and Dombrowski admitted the perpetrators are a challenge for police.

“Frankly, we’re overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s hundreds and hundreds and it’s not the same group every weekend, its different car clubs.”

The drag racing is dangerous for the drivers and for other drivers and it creates noise issues, but Dombrowski said the police have a new strategy to stop the problem before it starts. He told residents that many of the drivers meet in private parking lots prior to drag racing and, if the businesses are closed when they meet, Chicago police are arresting drivers for trespassing. In early June, officers made nine arrests.

“Hopefully it sends a message,” he said. “These aren’t bad kids. These are kids who are into cars and they want to live that lifestyle.”

Dombrowski reminded residents to report any crimes they see or hear. He pointed to some gang graffiti recently removed due to quick reporting from a New Eastside resident.

“If you do see graffiti,” Dombrowski said, “if you can take a picture of it and send it to the alderman’s office and send it to our office and we’ll get rid of it.”

The next CAPS meeting is 6:30 p.m. July 8 at 400 E. Randolph St.

Goodman Theatre offers ‘Music Man’ revival

(Published June 30, 2019)

Goodman Theatre opened its revival of the Tony-Award winning musical, “‘The Music Man” last month, running through Aug. 4 in the 856-seat Albert Theatre. Tickets are $45-$142 and available at GoodmanTheatre.org/MusicMan, by phone at 312-443-3800 or the box office at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn. 

The New York Times calls the show “musical comedy at its feel-good best” that “glows with enjoyment.” Tony Award-winning Director Mary Zimmerman helms the production, her 16th at the Goodman. 

“The Music Man,” written by Meredith Willson, based on the story by Willson and Franklin Lacey, opened on Broadway in 1957 and garnered five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was later adapted for the screen. 

Zimmerman’s production is led by Geoff Packard as the charismatic con man Harold Hill, who stumbles upon River City, Iowa with the grand promise of a marching band, but a lack of musicality. Monica West stars as Marian Paroo, the local librarian who knows of Harold’s deceit. 

After a delay in construction, Lakeshore East children’s play area project will wrap in early July

Construction on the new play area at Lakeshore East Park started later than expected, June 17, but Community Relations Director announced the delay June 7. In an email sent to area residents, Casciano cited unforeseen “underground conditions.”

The Lakeshore East park will also features live music every Wednesday evening, except July 3. 

CPD seek community business partners

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) launched a new community policing initiative designed to build and foster a collaborative partnership with local businesses in communities across Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched the program in June in response to violence in and around business areas. 

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and if we want our neighborhoods to thrive and grow, then we have to ensure we’re supporting our local entrepreneurs while rooting out any bad actors,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a press release. “This initiative is not only about building partnerships and nurturing trust between small businesses, it represents a new era of collaboration between the Chicago Police Department and our communities.

All police districts will have a designated Business Liaison Officer to work closely with the District Commander and BACP to provide positive engagement opportunities for entrepreneurs, address chronic problems or concerns of business owners and improve overall public safety through collaboration with the community.

Each Business Liaison Officer will work directly with businesses in their district to establish engagement strategies to encourage positive community interactions and relationships. Districts will hold monthly community meetings with all local business owners to strengthen the ties between entrepreneurs and their communities by notifying residents of available neighborhood workforce opportunities and ensuring all businesses are connected to city network services and resources. These new meetings specifically focus on local business concerns and opportunities versus the broader community public safety issues discussed at CAPS meetings.

This new initiative is part of the Chicago Police Department’s community policing strategies and its ongoing efforts to improve the communication and cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve.

Grant Park Music Festival is underway

Through August, starting at 6:30pm every Wednesday and Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays, enjoy free admission to beloved classical performances. Audiences can also attend open rehearsals, docent-led talks, and pre-concert lectures throughout the week.

Please visit the Grant Park Music Festival website, grantparkmusicfestival.com, for up-to-date information about weekly special guests.

Roosevelt Collection to feature new restaurant from Food Network star

In June the Roosevelt Collection Shops announced The Lucky Well,  a new restaurant will join the center in early 2020. The Lucky Well is known for its Memphis-style dry-rub meats, is led by chef Chad Rosenthal, a chef featured on The Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters.”  

The Roosevelt Collection location will focus on barbecue, top-shelf whiskey and classic craft cocktails within a live blues atmosphere.

“It has been so exciting to work with Chad on bringing this concept to Chicago,” said Shannon Ridgeway, general manager of Roosevelt Collection Shops. “We’re thrilled to add another growing small business to Roosevelt Collection and bring this new experience to our neighbors and Chicago locals.”

LondonHouse rooftop to offer pop up Japenese shaved ice shop

LH Rooftop, the tri-level rooftop bar and restaurant at LondonHouse Chicago, launches a month-long pop-up serving kakigori – a Japanese style of shaved ice known for its delicate texture – at the rooftop’s outdoor cupola. An alternative frozen treat during National Ice Cream Month, the kakigori is available on weekends in July, and guests can enjoy a variety of artisanal shaved ice flavors, which they may customize with boozy additions. Shaved ice flavors include Golden Raspberry/Watermelon, Black Sesame, and Spiced Condensed Milk for $10 each. Guests can indulge in a kakigori cocktail by adding spirits for an additional $4. Spirits include Kahlua, Malibu Cream, or Appleton Estate 12-Year rum. LondonHouse Chicago’s LH Rooftop is 85 E. Upper Wacker Dr., Floor 22-23. Table reservations at LH Rooftop can be made via OpenTable or by calling 312.253.2317.

A closer look at hidden bars around downtown

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff Writer

Looking for someplace new? Someplace weird? Someplace out-of-the-way?

Look no more. Here is a list of the best hidden bars downtown.

The Library

The Library is located in the basement of the Gilt Bar in River North. It has a speakeasy feel with soft lights, bookshelves and gentle 1920s music playing. They don’t take reservations, expect a wait.

Gilt Bar

230 N. Kinzie St.

The Drifter

This River North establishment is also in the basement of another bar, the Green Door Tavern. The cocktail menu varies because drinks are printed on tarot cards, and different cards list different drinks. Risk-seeking patrons can snag a fortune cookie from a Buddha cookie jar where each fortune lists a cocktail or liquor. After 8 p.m., there’s burlesque and musical entertainment curated by Michelle L’amour. Expect to pay a cover charge.

Green Door Tavern

678 N. Orleans St.

The Milk Room

This tiny hidden bar is on the second floor of the Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan Ave. Allegedly, it was used by members during Prohibition. Paid reservations are recommended as the bar only has eight seats. This is the place for the discerning cocktail aficionado since they serve rare spirits.

Chicago Athletic Association

12 S. Michigan Ave.

Blind Barber

The Blind Barber, in West Loop, is in the back of an actual barber shop. When a patron enters the barbershop and asks for the bar, they will be directed to an unmarked door. Once inside the cocktail bar, it’ll feel like a time warp with soft lights and cozy chairs. In addition to a delicious cocktail list, they offer a grilled cheese that isn’t to be missed.

Back of a barber shop

948 W. Fulton Market

SafeHouse Chicago

A Milwaukee transplant, this Streeterville bar lets patrons feel like secret agents. First one must locate the red door and then provide the password or perform a designated task. Once these tests are passed, patrons find themselves in a spy-themed cocktail bar. It’s goofy and fun with lots to explore, including secret entrances and passages.

60 E. Ontario St.

Artfest brings diversity and art to Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Elisa Shoenberger

Sixty-five artists from 19 states will be displaying and selling their works during the fourth annual artfest Michigan Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 19-20 at 435 N. Michigan Ave. This juried art show features artists of numerous disciplines, including traditional visual arts, photography, jewelry and ceramics.

Amdur Productions, who run the artfest along with the Millenium Art Festival, June 28-29 at Lake and Michigan, have been running art shows for more than 36 years.

Amy Amdur, of Amdur Productions, said they reached out to the Magnificent Mile Association after learning there was an opening to run the show. She had grown up seeing Michigan Avenue as “a magical street with all the beautiful stores and windows.” For Amdur Productions to run an art show on Michigan Avenue, she said “it was a full circle experience for me having grown up always idolizing Michigan Avenue.” 

Now in its fourth year, people expect beautiful art in Pioneer Court, next to Tribune Tower and the Apple store. Amdur explains, “It’s a spectacular setting with landmarks, but what makes the show really special this year is the artists,” Amdur said.

Mark Hersh, a Chicago based photographer, will be showcasing his work for the second time at Artfest. Hersh said his work “Time After Time” brings together the new and old in a single photograph. He finds 100-120 year old photographs of cities, such as Chicago and Boston, then recreates the shot exactly in the present day at the same angle. Then he merges the two photographs together. 

Hersh said he finds that the audience in areas such as Streeterville and Printer’s Row “like the history of those neighborhoods and tend to appreciate the history and preservation.”

Other artists at the fair include Ali Hasmut, a Chicago Portrait artist who has done quick portraits at past fairs; Todd Babb who creates 3-4 foot tall ballet dancer sculptures; and West Loop artist Heather Offord with giant paintings.

But the focus of the Artfest is the art itself, Amdur said. Visitors should expect to see great art and demonstrations by artists. ###

Doorperson of the month: Nick Damus

(Published June 30, 2019)

Nick Damus, a doorperson at 340 On the Park, has lived several lifetimes. Born in Haiti, he emigrated with his parents to New York City as a boy. When he grew up, he joined the Air Force, studied electronics and lived overseas in Italy.

He learned to speak Italian, adding that to his knowledge of French Kreyol, French, English and Spanish. After the Air Force, he became a French and Spanish teacher in New York City’s public school system.

“Life in New York became a bit challenging because a teaching job in the public school system is tough, so I wanted to do something else,” Damus explained.

He moved to Georgia, where he had relatives, and went back to school for network engineering. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where relatives in the city offered to help him find a job.

“I came here looking for a job as a computer network engineer,” Damus said. “That’s when the economy tanked and all the jobs went overseas. That’s how I ended up working as a security officer.”

That was at the now-defunct Chicago Place mall on the Mag Mile. But he didn’t stay there long. In 2007, 340 On the Park opened and needed door staff. Damus said a friend recommended him and he was hired. He started working there on the day the building opened. Finally, Damus found a job he loved.

“I’m the sole survivor,” he said, “the only one who’s been here [from the beginning] of all the staff.”

Damus said he loves the job because of the speed. It’s a busy building with 344 apartments. People are constantly coming and going through the lobby.

“You’re not [just] a doorman here,” he said. “You’re basically involved with everything. It’s very hectic. It’s very highly paced. It makes the day go by really quick. You’re on your toes a lot and you’re multitasking. And that’s what I like about it and why I’ve been here so long.”

While explaining this, a woman asked for help jumpstarting a car in the parking garage.

“Your communication skills and your customer service skills have to be up to par here,” he said after he helped the tenant. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”

When he’s not helping residents and manning the door, Damus said he enjoys his hobbies.

“I read a lot and I watch movies,” he said. “I play guitar, a little bit of rock guitar. … It’s something that I’d like to be good at.”

But don’t look for Damus at open mics anytime soon.

“No, I’m not at that level at all,” he said.

To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@neweastsidecommunity.com with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.

1 2 3 17