Category Archives: Business

County Wage Changes Affect Berwyn

By Jonathan De Leon

An increase in the minimum wage for Cook County workers has employees in Berwyn happy and business leaders shaken.

Almost half a million workers in suburbs and unincorporated areas would be affected.  Every July the minimum wage will increase progressively from $8.25 now to $13 in 2020. Starting July 1, 2017, the wage will increase to $10 an hour and then by $1 each year after. Continue reading

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Has the Big Hurt Struck Out?

 

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By Jonathan De Leon

Two years ago, The Big Hurt Brewhouse opened in September of 2014 on the corner of Cermak and Oak Park with boosters claiming it was the next great sports mecca and tourist attraction.

Now it stands quiet, with the sign “closed for remodeling” taped on the doors outside.

Neither restaurant management nor owner Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox legend, could be reached.

Berwyn officials had no answers as well about the sudden closing. Continue reading

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Next Stop: Depot District Redevelopment

By Melinda Czifrak

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Current commercial areas in the Depot District; Photo courtesy of the Berwyn Development Corporation

In the dreams of Berwyn’s planners, crowds fill the busy streets of the Depot District, with shoppers and retailers mingling inside quaint shops as others enjoy a meal in one of the area’s many restaurants. Outside, cars drive by, the final touch to an otherwise perfect picture of retail bliss.

The Depot District’s reality, however, looks a little bit different.

In recent years, the city of Berwyn has attempted to bolster its retail offerings and develop a destination dinning corridor. Continue reading

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South Berwyn D100 Elects Four New Board Members

by Danielle Golab and Alejandro Cortez

Voters in South Berwyn split their tickets in Tuesday’s elections, choosing school board members from both slates of candidates competing for four seats in District 100.

Lisa Clemente, Jennifer Mitchell and Mark Titzer had run on one slate; Elizabeth Jimenez had run on a competing slate.

District 100 was the only contested race for Berwyn election. Candidates for the Berwyn School Board, Morton School Board and North Berwyn Park board all ran unopposed.

Turnout was less than 9 percent, with only 1,402 of the city’s 16,709 registers voters casting a ballot, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

Clemente led the election with 748 votes, followed by Jimenez, who is the first Hispanic woman elected to the school board, with 747 votes. Third in line was Mitchell with 744 votes. The fourth place was taken by Titzer with 730 votes.

According to Jimenez, district 100 has a population of 81.6% Latinos. Jimenez says that this sends a message of how huge an impact it makes when most of the population is Latino as a support for her campaign.

“I am proud and at the same time humbled to have the opportunity to serve the Berwyn Community,” she said after the election.

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A pothole or a black hole?

Pothole

Bad winter weather has led to bad pavement conditions in Berwyn.

Outside the Beauty Marty on 7105/7107 Roosevelt Rd., in the Cappuccino Plaza, a large hole has formed.

“People complain all the time,” said John Cho, owner of Beauty Mart.

No one has come to fix the pothole, he said last week.

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Turano’s Neighbors Prevail in Court

by Alejandro Cortez

Neighbors of Turano Bakery have won a legal victory as a judge has halted the demolition of homes and construction of parking lots behind the Roosevelt Road factory.

At a Feb. 10 hearing, Cook County Judge Kathleen Kennedy ordered the bakery and the city of Berwyn to comply with the city ordinances and receive a zoning permit for the work on the parking spaces.

Since then, Turano has stopped all demolition until it gets its paperwork in order. Neighbors had initially stopped demolition when Judge Kennedy gave them a temporary restraining order against Turano in late January.

“The TRO (temporary restraining order) has been dismissed and Turano is currently in the process of doing the application for a zoning permit but it has not been presented yet,” Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero said last Friday.

A November n explosion and fire at Turano’s parking garage, across Roosevelt Road in Oak Park, put the bakery in a jam. It needed a place to park its delivery trucks.

Later, Berwyn’s 8th District Alderman Nora Laureto wrote a letter to Lovero and the City council stating,

“I am asking for City Council approval to allow Turano to move forward as quickly as possible for demolition and graveling of the area.”

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Mission House Café Serves Coffee and Compassion

by Lauren Pinkston

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Mission House Café, tucked away in a renovated Victorian home in South Berwyn, brings customer service and community outreach together by using profits from serving food and beverages to benefit local and global charities.

The café’s handcrafted refreshments and rustic atmosphere makes it stand out from the average coffee shop.

Berwyn’s Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church runs the café; its children’s pastor, Joshua Brniak, manages it on a day-to-day basis.

“My goal as the manager is to provide a warm and inviting environment while serving the highest quality coffee and food around, meet and build connections within our community, and provide a meeting place for people from all walks of life,” Brniak said. Continue reading

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Committee receives new member

By Elisa Juliano

Architect Emilio Padilla was appointed to the Historic Preservation Committee at the city council meeting on March 25th.

“Emillo’s resume is quite impressive and he will do a fine job at his commission,” said Mayor of Berwyn Robert Lovero.

Padilla was sworn into office by city clerk Thomas Pavilk. Following being sworn in he posed for pictures with the mayor.

He currently works for BauerLatoza Studio. The company was founded in 1990 and has received over 30 design awards.

Padilla has worked on numerous projects including the restoration of the six iconic domes at the Museum of Science and Industry and the restoration of the DuSable Museum roundhouse.

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7th Annual Wellness Fair

By Elisa Juliano

Heritage Middle School’s gym was buzzing with many adults and children attending the 7th Annual Wellness Fair on March 13.

The fair had many exhibition booths and lots of free give aways. McNeal Hospital, the YMCA, the Berwyn Police Department, the Berwyn Fire Department and many other organizations participated in the fair.

In addition to visiting the many exhibits, attendees were also able to participate in numerous activities ranging from relaxing massages to adrenaline pumping exercises.

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Bubbles and magic in the air at local laundromat

By Elisa Juliano

The World’s Largest Laundromat had a few tricks up its sleeve, presenting customers with a magic show and free pizza this Wednesday.

James Sanden, a local Chicago magician, entertained the children of customers with card tricks, disappearing acts and balloon animals for about two hours. Customers also snacked on free cheese and sausage pizza delivered fresh every 20 minutes.

In the past the laundromat has hosted other magicians such as Mary Macaroni.

According to his website, Sanden has performed in Japan and Costa Rica, in both Japanese and Spanish.

The laundromat does pizza night every Wednesday and free coffee and donuts daily. Sanden is set to perform again at the laundromat on Feb. 16 at 4:00 p.m. and March 12 at 5:00 p.m . For more information visit www.worldslargestlaundry.com.

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by | February 2, 2014 · 7:07 pm

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 http://www.berwyn.net/economic-development.

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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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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 http://www.berwyn.net/business-assistance/mircroloan.

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Wire: a one-hit wonder in its own

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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.”

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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.”

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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 www.ticketfly.com/venue/9923-wire/.

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Berwyn to receive housing funding

By Rene Howard-Paez

Berwyn is slated to receive housing grant money soon, due to a new housing grant.

According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S Senator Dick Durbin recently made the announcement.

More than $21 million in grants for housing will be shared by Berwyn, Bolingbrook, Cicero, Hoffman Estates, Des Plaines, Cook County and St. Clair County. Each will receive funding ranging from $259,000 to $9.3 million.

It is unknown how Berwyn will use these grants.

Berwyn Mayor Lovero and city council members were unavailable for comment, after multiple interview requests.

In separate housing news, the Illinois Housing Development recently released and updated reported that showed Berwyn initiating twenty two new residential mortgages.  The Illinois Building Pilot Program was created and managed through the IHDA.

This program was designed to address foreclosed homes with five target communities: Maywood, Park Forest, Chicago Heights, South Holland and Berwyn. The Illinois Building Pilot Program includes a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage featuring an affordable interest rate and a $10,000 forgivable loan over two years for down payment and closing cost assistance.

To see the qualifications for the program visit:

http://www.ihda.org/homeowner/ilbuildingblocksprogram.htm

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Brand new sportsplex “Bounces” into Berwyn

By Jackie Glosniak

The professional baseball players at Wrigley Field and “The Cell” have long struck-out for the season, but in the heart of Berwyn’s Depot District, young local athletes continue to perfect their swings during the cold winter months at Bounce Sports.

At the new sports complex, at 3310 Grove Ave., the smell of fresh paint, the crack of baseballs on bats and the swoosh of soccer balls into nets greets patrons at the front door.

Bounce Sports is a new indoor sports facility catering specifically to youth active in travel sports.  The location features over 17,000 square feet of batting cages, pitching tunnels, a turf practicing field, and a basketball court. The business is centrally located for youth club baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball teams in nearby suburbs. Continue reading

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Youth organizations help the needy

 

By Anthony Garcia

Young people in Berwyn are taking the lead in bringing the holiday spirit to the less fortunate in Berwyn through organizations like Youth Crossroads and CIACO.

The non-profit Youth Crossroads is dedicated to helping the troubled or at-risk youth of Berwyn through any means necessary, 0providing free counseling and leadership programs and hosting events for the children and their families.

During the holiday season however, the young people helped by the organization look to give back to Berwyn, said Programs Director Joel Wallen.

“Throughout the year, they participated in dozens of volunteer opportunities in partnership with local governments, park districts and other social service agencies. When we presented the opportunity to help distribute food on Thanksgiving Day, it just seemed natural for them to volunteer,” Wallen said. Continue reading

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Berwyn Vehicle Sticker Contest

By Lavell Garner

It’s that time of the year again, and it’s not because it’s the holiday season. Berwyn is kicking off its annual city-wide competition for the design of the 2013-2014 city vehicle stickers.

Entrants must be enrolled in 5th through 8th grades and must live within the city of Berwyn.

Creativity is key in this competition.

The subject matter of the design can be pretty much what the individual desires. The design being presented must be the individual’s own creation.

Entries must be sent to Ruth Volbre, Berwyn City Hall, 6700 W. 26th St., Berwyn, IL 60402 by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013.

More information and submission form for the competition visit,

http://berwyn-il.gov/Portals/0/PDFs/Community/2013-2014CityStickerCompetition.pdf

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SCORE to offer help for local businesses

By Anthony Garcia

Starting up a new business isn’t easy, with customer service, marketing and dozens of other tasks. But Berwyn startups now have help.

On Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., SCORE, a Chicago resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration will be offering free business counseling to anyone interested.

SCORE will offer a variety of tips including how to begin a plan of attack for startup businesses and offer help to existing businesses seeking to further grow and expand. SCORE will also give feedback to people who want to showcase product or service. Continue reading

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Horrorbles: Not your average comic shop

By: Anthony Garcia

An evil clown with flaming red hair to your right.

“Monster Man” himself John Aranza.

A life-like Frankenstein to your right.

And stashed somewhere in the vicinity of the store is a custom-made Harley.

These items may seem random and accidental but at Horrorbles, this is everyday life for the store and for its owner, John “Monster Man” Aranza.

The sci-fi/horror shop at 6729 W. Roosevelt Rd. has been a hotspot for locals since 2006 where Aranza first came up with the idea for the shop in a conference in Pennsylvania.

The conference showcased an array of vintage and rare collectable items that made Aranza think about opening a shop with the same kinds of products.

“I started sourcing DVDs online & about a year later, a friend, Robin Rolder (owner of the Friendly Tap) told me about the space she had empty for 13 years and how it needed work, but she wanted to rent it,” Aranza said. Continue reading

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