Author Archives: Lauren Reiniger

Identity thefts hit Berwyn

There have been seven reported identify thefts in Berwyn since Dec. 3. Sgt. Joe Santangelo said these cases are currently under investigation.

Santangelo gave tips on how to avoid being a victim of identity theft. Never throw away credit cards without first shredding them. Be careful about what information you save onto the internet; don’t save your social  security number or passwords on any web page.

“You can check your banking website regularly to watch your accounts,” Santangelo said. “There are also trusted websites that do a free credit check to monitor your accounts.”

Two of the seven identity thefts occurred on the 2200 block of S. Kenilworth. Two more occurred on S. Euclid. Other cases occurred on Harvey, Elmwood and Grove.

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Christmas spirit in the Depot District

Santa and his reindeer visited Berwyn’s Depot District last night for Berwyn Development Corp. “Deck the Depot” to get the city into the Christmas spirit.

Santa's car

Santa’s car

Visitors enjoyed free horse driven sleigh rides, trolley rides and a petting zoo. They even got to sit on Santa’s lap to tell him their wish list and get a free photograph.

Berwyn girl telling Santa what she wants for Christmas

Berwyn girl telling Santa what she wants for Christmas

The event also collected new unwrapped toys for the “Holiday Cheer Program” in Berwyn and canned goods and non-perishable food items for Berwyn Food Pantries at participating businesses with collection boxes.

Donated goods

Donated goods

Depot District merchants stayed open late offering some complimentary goodies. Also, there was a raffle worth more than $200 for adults 21 and older who spent $10 in the Depot District. Open Houses took place at Giovanni’s World’s Best Ribs Inc, Olive or Twist Martini Bar, BMO Harris Bank N.A., The James Joyce Irish Pub, Off the Traxx and Wishbone.

Sleigh riders say hello

Sleigh riders say hello


The 12th Annual Deck the Depot was presented by Santa Sponsor Suburban Life Media and Reindeer Sponsors The James Joyce Irish Pub, Off The Traxx and La Notte Café.

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Filed under Leisure and Recreation, Seasonal, Uncategorized

An option for Illinois residents without health insurance

Get Covered Illinois is a new website, launched Oct. 1, that allows people to find the right health coverage.

“For the first time in U.S. history, quality health coverage is available to you regardless of your current health, income level or employment,” according to the website.

The website, set up by Gov. Pat Quinn, allows Illinois residents to review their health care and insurance options under the new Affordable Health Care Act as proposed by President Barack Obama, according to State Representative Lisa Hernandez.

Jose Espinoza is a state-certified Navigator for Get Covered Illinois who facilitates enrollments and assists those interested in coverage. He said Get Covered Illinois received money from a grant to serve cities out of Chicagoland suburbs. This enables Navigators like Espinoza to provide free assistance. 

“Community outreach and education is essential so our citizens know how this law works and what they need to do to get enrolled in they don’t have coverage,” said Espinoza. “Our goal is to reach as many people as possible and enroll those interested in doing so.”

Why is this so important now? People can only get coverage during special enrollment periods, according to Espinoza. Those who want coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014 need to enroll by Dec. 23, 2013. The final deadline for enrollment is March 31, 2014. Anyone who seeks coverage after this deadline must pay a $90 penalty. 

The first step in using this website is to go to The second step is to click “See your options.” This provide questions a user needs to answer that will decide if the user is qualified for Medicaid or for marketplace insurance.

For more information on how to get covered, visit Get Covered Illinois or contact Navigator Jose Espinoza at or (312) 913-9449.

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Berwyn business is booming

Existing businesses are improving and new businesses are opening all across Berwyn. In August, Mayor Lovero said  business development would be something to keep an eye on in Berwyn, and he was right.

“There were approximately 50 businesses that opened in 2013,” said Business and Licensing Supervisor Anthony Perri. 

This success can be attributed to business assistance provided by Berwyn Development Corp. Total investment in TIF areas, including Roosevelt Road, Harlem and Cermak, Odgen Avenue and the Depot District, rose from $4,135,141.74 in 2007 to $8,330,957.23 in 2012, according to Development Executive Director Anthony Griffin.

“There is a comprehensive approach set by the city of Berwyn that allows business to start up and improve,” said Griffin.

Berwyn Development Corp. has a number of programs and services to help with improving commercial areas and stimulating business growth, including TIF financing, commercial loans, micoloans, site location assistance, and technical assistance. 

“There have been more restaurants opening, giving Berwyn a more diverse food culture,” said Berwyn resident Iridian Hernandez. “It’s also good that Berwyn has more places to shop, and hopefully that will attract more young people to the community.”

“We take great pride in helping existing business adapt to new trends and helping new businesses open,” said Griffin.

All of the projects completed in 2012 include Meijer, Big Guys Sausages, Wing Boss, The Vitamin Shoppe, Verizon, Play N Trade, Off the Traxx, Karasek Park, J.D. Byrider, Lou’s Pizza and Beef, Collision Centers of America, Start the Party, Capri Ristorante & Catering, Bounce Sportsplex, Reel Art, Riddles Comedy Club and Chipotle.

For updated information on current and completed projects, visit

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Berwyn boys receive recognition

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Julian Garcia (left) and Nathan Rodriguez (right)

Mayor Lovero presented honorable mentions to Julian Garcia and Nathan Rodriguez for taking action to save a woman’s life on Halloween.

On Halloween night, the two friends visited a house in the 3700 block of Harvey Avenue. They knocked, but only heard barking dogs. The back door was open, so they looked inside and saw the woman laying on her basement floor at the bottom of the stairs. They immediately ran to alert their parents who called the authorities.

The woman, in her late 60s, said she had fallen down the stairs three days before and hadn’t moved since, according to She had a cervical fracture and was treated for hypothermia.

“I am very glad of myself,” Rodriguez said after receiving awards. Garcia quickly agreed, “Me, too!”

Garcia and Rodriguez  are third-graders at Pershing School.

“The community is our eyes and ears, and these guys did a great job. We thank them,” said Police Chief James Ritz. 

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Filed under Awards and Honors, Police and Fire

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar food allergy friendly

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department. While some restaurants are too afraid to take this risk with their guests, Paisans Pizzeria & Bar is one restaurant that welcomes those with food allergies.

“My daughter has tree-nut allergies, so I understand how hard it can be to eat out,” said General Manager Stacey Scott.

Paisans has a policy of accommodating all reasonable needs of a guest with food allergies. The chefs must clean all surfaces and utensils to prepare for a special order. During orientation and training, servers are taught how to handle these special requests.

“It’s not the server’s job to guess,” said Scott. “We tell our servers to get all the details and get a manager involved, if needed.”

Scott estimates that 20 to 30 people come in a week with food allergies. Some of the items on the menu can be prepared gluten-free. Other allergens can also be accommodated for.

“Every time we tell them about our gluten allergy, our server or bartender is very accommodating,” said Janine J., a Berwyn reviewer on 

Paisans’ executive chef, known as “Chef,” and two sous chefs, Sergio and Fransisco, are in charge of kitchen management. These three chefs rotate shifts to ensure that an experienced chef is on deck at all times during Paisans’ open hours. They oversee all special requests in the kitchen. 

“We do the best we can and are willing to go above and beyond to accommodate if its within our control,” said Scott. “We don’t want you to leave hungry.”

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Foreclosed homes selling every week on average

By Lauren Reiniger

Houses are being sold on an average of every week to a week and a half, according to Jim Healy, an attorney  in Berwyn’s community development department. 

Berwyn received a $4.6 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the state to buy and renovate 26 vacant and foreclosed buildings. To date, 18 out of those 26 homes are active on the sales end. Two houses have been sold, and 16 houses are currently under contract.

“Just this week, we closed on two houses. We are closing on two more next week, and probably three more the week after that,” said Healy.

Some applications have been denied because the buyers make too much money.

“One couple wanted to buy a home–they really liked the way we fixed it up–but they were over-qualified,” Healy said. “This is a federal program for those who have up to 120% of area-median income.”

This program isn’t about making money, according to Healy. The purpose is to get homes off the foreclosure list, fix them, sell them and generate property taxes, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“I expect that we will probably close every house that has been repaired by the end of January,” Healy said. Five remaining homes still need to be fixed throughout winter and spring.

For more information on Berwyn’s NSP program, visit

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Connie’s Restaurant new addition to “keep up with the times”

By Lauren Reiniger

Connie’s Restaurant in Berwyn now has a new party room and lounge. The party room seats up to 90 people, and the lounge includes a bar and modern electronic slot machines.

Connie’s Restaurant, 3271 S. Harlem Ave., hosted its grand opening of Connie’s Event and Party Room & Lounge Wednesday morning.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

Ribbon-cutting ceremony

“If you don’t keep up with the times, you’ll always die with the dinosaur,” said Andy Sotiropoulos, one of the owners of this family-owned restaurant. 

Four years ago, the family couldn’t decide if they waned this part of the building to be a party room or a lounge. The space became both, after Sotiropoulos and his friend completed the construction in July.

The new addition is a business opportunity. Video-gaming is growing, especially in Illinois, and this expansion will be a “terrific addition,” according to Mayor Lovero.

Game room and lounge

Game room and lounge

Sotiropoulos was previously a product manager for Moterolla, but decided to commit to the family business.

“This place has survived 70 years, and I promised by dad I would see it to 100 years,” said Sotiropoulos.

His father, who was unavailable for comment, started working at Connie’s restaurant 38 years ago as a cook, according to Sotiropoulos. His parents became co-partners in the late 1970s and helped the success of Connie’s Restaurant.

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Filed under Business, Food, Leisure and Recreation

Wire to host award-winning album band

By Lauren Reiniger

Scott Lucas & the Married Men will be playing at Wire in Berwyn Friday, Nov. 22. The Chicago Tribune listed their album “Blood Half Moon” in the top 10 indie releases of 2012, according to Mango Media Manager Jill Mango.

Lucas describes the group’s evolving sound as “country-ish, alt-rock for people who like metal.” The band also incorporates violin, organ and accordion into their music.

Scott Lucas & the Married Men toured with Deer Tick last summer and played shows with James Iha, Kelly Hogan, Tristen, the Airborne Toxic Event and others in the past year.

Lucas, originally from Zion, Ill., is best known as the singer and guitarist for a two-man, Chicago rock band called Local H. For his solo records, he plays with the Married Men. Reviewers have compared this band to American Music Club, Wilco, the Waterboys and Nick Cave.

Wire is located at 6815 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn.
Find more information, music and videos for Scott Lucas & the Married Men at 

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Filed under Leisure and Recreation, Music

Friday night frights in Berwyn Gardens

By Lauren Reiniger


The cold wind blew in the Berwyn Gardens on Friday, Oct. 25, but that didn’t stop more than 30 children and their families from coming to the campfire and getting into the Halloween spirit. They sat on the edge of their hay bales, eyes fixed on storyteller Adrian Del Toro, cautiously waiting to hear what would happen next.

Some of the stories involved headless widows, talking dolls, ghostly housemates, and much more that caused shivers of fear among the adults in the audience. But the children stuck with it.

“In the past, we tried to be more lax and less scary, but kids started to get bored with the children’s stories. They wanted to be more scared,” said Inara Canino, recreation supervisor for the North Berwyn Park District.

However, the night wasn’t limited to haunting stories; Del Toro also told jokes and tongue-twisters.

“Why did the vampire need mouthwash? Because he had bat breath,” Del Toro said.

The entire audience burst with laughter, and some children even slapped their knees.

Del Toro even challenged the listeners with a tongue twister: “If big black bats could blow bubbles, how big of bubbles would big black bats blow?”

The Haunted Story Telling was part of Berwyn’s festive weekend and preceded the Berwyn Fall Fest on Saturday.

The North Berwyn Park District will host the Berwyn Fall Fest from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Berwyn Gardens, featuring music, food, crafts, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, pony rides, games, and a costume contest.

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Berwyn’s Microloan Program waiting to be used, but that’s not stopping business development

By Lauren Reiniger

Berwyn’s Microloan Program was approved by Berwyn City Council on May 28, became available Aug. 1, but has yet to be used.

“We are continuing to talk to a handful businesses about the program, but none have the reached the point of a submitted application,” said Anthony Griffin, Berwyn Development Corporation executive director.

The program, designed to promote growth and business in Berwyn, provides loans between $1,000 and $10,000 for start-up and established businesses.

Although the Microloan Program is still waiting to be put into action, Berwyn’s business development is still in progress.

“We have processed a handful of TIF and loan applications this year. We are also busy working on infrastructure improvements in the Depot and land acquisition for future development opportunities,” said Griffin.

To date, the businesses in the Depot that have completed TIFs include Reel Art (commercial), Off the Traxx (restaraunt), and Riddles Comedy Club (commercial).

More information about Berwyn’s Microloan Program can be found at

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“Broken Fences” breaks through original closing date

By Lauren Reiniger

Photo by Anthony Aicardi Pictured: Daniel J. Bryant as Hoody, Ryan Czerwonko as Esto, Scott Allen Luke as Czar and Kirsten D’Aurelio as April

Photo by Anthony Aicardi
Pictured: Daniel J. Bryant as Hoody, Ryan Czerwonko as Esto, Scott Allen Luke as Czar and Kirsten D’Aurelio as April

The 16th Street Theater’s production of “Broken Fences” has extended its run because of high demand for tickets. It was scheduled to close Oct. 26, but is extended to Nov. 9.

But the theater won’t be making money off this box-office bonanza. To date, the box office sold 1,079 tickets and made $14,842. The theater only has 49 seats and four shows a week. This production cost the theater $28,000, excluding staff salaries, according to Artistic Director Ann Filmer.

“We are grateful individuals and foundations have donated to bridge the gap between income from ticket sales and what is actually costs us to produce a play. Because we are dedicated to keeping our theater affordable, we don’t want to raise ticket prices above our current $18,” said Filmer.

Set in Chicago, “Broken Fences” is about a white couple who move in next door to an African-American couple in a transitional neighborhood. It’s a story that utilizes heartbreak and humor and focuses on the themes of racism, displacement and community.

Filmer wanted to stage this play since 2009. She has known playwright Steven Simoncic since 2004, and was finally able to produce and direct this play with Ilesa Duncan from Pegasus Players.

Filmer first called Duncan to ask her to direct the play, but Duncan proposed to direct together.

Filmer said it was a challenge.

“I can honestly say I was scared to death. How is this done? Who takes the lead when? We had to face each other every day,” Filmer said. “As we got deeper into the process, it was so clear we needed both of our perspectives in the room. It became a richer production by having two directors.”

The 16th Street Theater is located at 6420 16th St. in Berwyn. Tickets are available online at

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Berwyn’s 45th Annual Houby Festival: still upholding tradition?

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by | October 7, 2013 · 10:12 am

Wire: a one-hit wonder in its own


by Lauren Reiniger

Roosevelt Road has another new music addition, but this spot is something special for everything music-related.

Wire, located at 6815 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Berwyn, had its grand opening last night where Mayor Robert Loveno hosted the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Wire is a new place in Berwyn for music performance, production, and instruction. The venue includes music education for all ages, private recording studios and a concert venue.

Four men, who are all musicians, own Wire. Chris Neville, vocalist-keyboardist of band Tributosaurus, is the conceptual founder of Wire. Managing partners are Paul Bolger of band Mr. Blotto and Evanston School of Rock musical director; recording engineer-producer Jon Smith from bands Ministry and the Police; and Tracey Dear of band Waco Brothers. Dear is also and founder of the architectural lighting design firm Dear Productions.

“We do everything music-related,” Neville said. “We want to get things going and we are all excited.”


The Wire team has spent more than $1 million in the creation of this music venue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The 10,000-square-foot space includes a rear upstairs area that houses the studio and a mezzanine level with offices and a VIP area. Six small private classrooms and a student lounge are on the main level behind the stage, which is the main performance area located directly across from the main entrance.

“The Berwyn Development Corporation recruited these men and they bought the venue in December 2011,” said Tony Griffin, executive director of the corporation.” It’s something of its own. They’re bringing in a whole new community.”

Wire is a new and promising addition to Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, helping the growing popularity of this street, according to Mayor Robert J. Loveno.

“People are coming from various communities,” Loveno said. “This is the type of atmosphere established on Roosevelt Road.”


Grand opening events take place Friday, Oct. 4 and Saturday, Oct. 5. Tributosaurus will cover Electric Light Orchestra songs at 9 p.m. Friday with a $20 cover charge. Axes of Evil will open for Mr. Blotto at 7 p.m. Saturday with a $15 cover charge. For more info, visit the Wire Facebook Page. Advance tickets are available at

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Filed under Business, Leisure and Recreation, Schools

Berwyn’s U.S. Route 66 Car Show

Paul Heffernan and his six-gage 1916 Hupmobile 4 Door Touring.

Paul Heffernan and his six-gage 1916 Hupmobile 4 Door Touring.

Tom Hanson and his 1967 Ford Mustang with original color and interior.

Tom Hanson and his 1967 Ford Mustang with original color and interior.

Richard Caspers explains his 2013 Levercoaster, a human-powered vehicle.

Richard Caspers explains his 2013 Levercoaster, a human-powered vehicle.

Future car enthusiast.

Future car enthusiast.

Eric Guardado from Morton College of Automotive Technology shows off his 1994 Chevrolet Caprice. He bought this car for $500, and this is what he presents after investing $5,000 worth of work on the original.

Eric Guardado from Morton College of Automotive Technology shows off his 1994 Chevrolet Caprice. He bought this car for $500, and this is what he presents after investing $5,000 worth of work on the original.

Earnie Lopez cleans his 1973 Volkswagen Beetle.

Earnie Lopez cleans his 1973 Volkswagen Beetle.

Jospeph, Michael, and Bobby from Unity Junior High came to see the Corvette Lowriders

Jospeph, Michael, and Bobby from Unity Junior High came to see the Corvette Lowriders

Young visitor looking for a potential Batmobile?

Young visitor looking for a potential Batmobile?

Comcast's Motorsports host Bill Wildt interviews car owner.

Comcast’s Motorsports host Bill Wildt interviews car owner.

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by | September 15, 2013 · 7:22 pm