Welcome To Your Elmhurst Magazine
There is only one magazine named Elmhurst Magazine. And, you can order a print or digital copy at www.ElmhurstMagazine.com. We want to make it accessible to everyone in and outside of Elmhurst.
We publish every other month, beginning with our premier issue! Our staff has worked diligently in our Elmhurst office at 107 W. First Street since November, getting to know the community's leaders, residents, and business owners.
We hope you like what you see and read. We promise to keep bringing articles like the ones in this issue because this city and its residents have a lot to share. We will do our best to bring stories that properly represent this vibrant and exciting community.
First, Elmhurst Magazine Managing Editor Larry Atseff and I interviewed Mayor Scott Levin. He credits longtime cooperation between city government and business leaders, which has been working so well together that the city is on the upswing and is attracting more residents. Moreover, Elmhurst is enjoying solid economic growth.
Elmhurst City Center is a perfect example of government and business cooperation and its success in growing downtown Elmhurst. We share how the 250+ member businesses are joining together, yet again, to keep downtown an attractive destination for residents and visitors this year.
First-rate educational institutions help
define attractive places to live. Elmhurst has more than its share.
One outstanding institution is Elmhurst University. We sat down with President Troy VanAken, and he recounts how well it ranks in the Midwest and how it is growing enrollment as it becomes known as Elmhurst University.
Speaking of history, The Elmhurst History Museum makes the city's history come alive. Housed in the majestic Glos mansion in downtown Elmhurst, it beautifully and impressively recounts the remarkable history of this town. History comes alive with a unique interactive computer map that shows how the town grew at the press of a button, complete with pictures of structures from different eras. There is also a video that animates still photos from the past. The Museum is so well regarded; it is a city department, just like Police and Fire.
Looking ahead, we spotlight the Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts (ECPA). The group is gaining momentum by adding famous rocker from Jefferson Starship, and Elmhurst resident Cathy Richardson to their Board. They also unveil an ambitious capital funding drive, starting in midApril. Yes, Elmhurst is alive and well!
Another educational standout is Immaculate Conception Catholic Preparatory School. New President Robert Cronin discusses how and why the school is well known for preparing young people for college. In our next issue, we will share a conversation with the leaders at York High School.
Since National Women's History Month is in March, we honor Elmhurst resident Eleanor King Hookham. She is the perfect example for this month for Elmhurst. She was a renowned painter and pioneered art groups in Elmhurst and was the determined founder of the very well-respected Elmhurst Art Museum.
I hope you enjoy this premier edition of Elmhurst Magazine. It is our newest addition to the Hinsdale Magazine Group, founded in 2011, and now includes Hinsdale Magazine, Downers Grove Magazine, and Oak Brook Magazine. Our mission is to "connect communities" through commerce and stories about interesting people. Please share your comments and suggestions, as we are honored to serve the residents of Elmhurst
Respectfully,Scott Jonlich, Publisher Elmhurst Magazine
IC Catholic Prep’s President Bob Cronin
19 HISTORICAL WOMEN
Eleanor King Hookham
23 THE INTERVIEW
Elmhurst Mayor Scott Levin
Elmhurst University’s President Troy VanAken
The Drake Hotel
34 HISTORY VAULT
Elmhurst History Museum
40 TRENDS Weddings
44 SNAPSHOT Educational Institutions
50 SPECIAL FEATURE
Elmhurst City Centre
54 PERFORMING ARTS
Cathy Richardson Joins ECPA
58 CHEF SHOWCASE
59 GIVING BACK
Infant Welfare Fashion Show
60 STAYCATION LeMeridien
Armand’s Restaurant in Elmhurst
65 TRAVEL Ireland
FOUNDER & PUBLISHER
Scott Jonlich sjonlich@HinsdaleMag.com
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Anne Healy anne@HinsdaleMag.com
Larry Atseff larry@HinsdaleMag.com
Insert Kristina Taheri
No person, organization or publication can copy or re-produce the content in this magazine or any part of this publication without a written consent from the publisher. The publisher, authors, contributors and designers reserve their rights with regards to copyright of their work. Elmhurst Magazine assumes no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate, delayed or incomplete information. The information contained about each individual, event or organization has been provided by such individual, event organizers or organization. The opinion expressed in each article is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Elmhurst Magazine. Comments are welcome, but they should be on-topic and well-expressed. Copyright ©2023 Elmhurst Magazine. All rights reserved.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
IC Catholic Prep’s new President, Bob Cronin, takes the helm.BY PHOTO BY VICTOR HILITSKI
Vested. It’s the word to des cribe Bob Cronin, the new president of IC Catholic College Prep (ICCP). A familiar face around campus, Cronin and his wife, Beverly, (the preschool teacher at Immaculate Conception Grade School next door), sent four children through IC’s grade school and high school. After a successful career in business, Cronin, himself a graduate of the Elmhurst landmark, is right where he wanted to land.
AND IT’S WHERE HE PLANS TO STAY.
The affinity Cronin has found with the students is palpable. For him, it’s all about them. Take a walk through the school on any given day to see this mantra in action. “Are you coming to the meeting this afternoon?” Cronin rhetorically asks a student without breaking his stride through the school library. Without missing a beat, “the correct answer is yes,” he says with a smile, making eye contact over his shoulder with the student. A stroll through the cafeteria at lunch hour further illustrates this rapport. Brief- but meaningful- conversations about a
“I’m here to help ICCP thrive, move forward, and make great things happen for the students”
- RECENTLY INSTALLED PRESIDENT OF ICCP, BOB CRONIN
student’s day, accompanied by words of encouragement- and maybe a high-five- let the high-schoolers know he’s there for them. Not just as students but as people.
As the Midwest’s last existing parish high school, ICCP’s future has been doubted by some. The advancement of the school will largely depend on his leadership. Cronin is here to dispel any myths and shore up the legacy of the institution for decades to come. This is one school in very capable hands.
CAN YOU GIVE READERS A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT YOURSELF?
I am an alumnus of ICCP class of 1978. After that, I earned a degree in accounting from The University of Notre Dame. I ran our family’s business, which is printing and promotional products. When this job opened last summer, I did some introspective thinking and decided to interview for it. I was at a place in life where I was tired of just making a living. I wanted to really make a difference. I see the position as more
of a ministry than a job. This is the last career move I’m looking for in life. I want to work hard from a mission standpoint for the people involved.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL LINK TO ICCP?
My family has been parishioners for decades. I have coached various teams here for 26 years. I’ve been the track and field head coach for the past 20 years and a board member. I have served on all kinds of committees. I’m always trying to give in one way or another. Now it’s my fulltime job.
All four of my children graduated from ICCP and Notre Dame as well. My wife and I credit ICCP with much of their success. They’re all doing great things with their lives. My kids are who they are because of ICCP. The high school years are formative in the lives of young people. I have been offered many opportunities at the university level. But it never struck a passion in me to raise money for them. When I look at ICCP, though, I see that the need is here.
HOW DOES YOUR ROLE AS PRESIDENT AFFECT THE ACADEMIC STRUCTURE?
Our model is that the principal is the academic officer of the institution, while the president is the business officer. My mission is to make a better learning environment in any way possible for our students by updating educational and athletic facilities for them. Furthering their educational opportunities through providing the right resources is a large part of my job.
HOW IS ICCP DIFFERENT FROM OTHER AREA CATHOLIC SCHOOLS?
We’re a very diverse student body; much more so than when I attended. That makes for a tight-knit school that appreciates everybody for who they are. There’s a cultural adaptation of excellence. A percentage of our students start in grade school and stay all the way through high school. The bonds built through spending grade school and high school together last a lifetime. But that’s not all of our students. Many join us at the high school level, and
we’re very glad to have them as well. HOW
DOES CATHOLICISM PLAY INTO THE CURRICULUM?
It’s a notable part of our curriculum. We open and close each day in prayer as a community. Students take theology classes every year. We have all-school masses monthly and on holy days and other special events, which the students plan. Our teachers bring forth Catholic values every day in the classroom. They truly lead by example.
DO YOU ENVISION INCREASING ENROLLMENT?
We’re currently at about 365 students. Ideally, we would like to raise that number to about 400. We’re anticipating about 100 incoming freshmen this fall. That would put us in step one toward that goal. A school this size leans toward a more personal atmosphere. We want to be a place where everyone knows each other’s names and people care about
each other as individuals. We love the ability to create and maintain personal relationships.
We’re also working on different ways to tie the alumni back to the school. A lot of that has been fostered through athletics. We had an incredibly successful fall athletic season. Our golf team took third in the state, volleyball took second, and our football team won the state championship! Athletics seem to be a natural avenue to draw alumni back. Students, parents of our students, alumni, and teachers become engaged. Everyone jumping on board and rallying together to support our teams builds camaraderie.
WHAT DO ICCP STUDENTS HAVE IN COMMON?
We’re looking for young people who are willing to work hard. We are a college prep, so our students are on track to attend college and most are accepted to the school of their first
choice. We also want well-rounded students. Almost all our students participate in sports and clubs and extra-curriculars. We are also looking for students who can live in a Catholic school environment, as we believe it is for the betterment of all who attend.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE COMMUNITY TO KNOW ABOUT ICCP?
For decades, there has been speculation that ICCP will go away. We’re here to stay, to grow and to do wonderful things for our students, alumni, and the community of Elmhurst as a whole.
Winston Churchill, another great leader, often said, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” This mantra is alive, well, and lived daily in the office of Bob Cronin.■
NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
Honoring Eleanor King Hookham, Founder Elmhurst Art MuseumBY LARRY ATSEFF | PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITSKI
March is National Women’s History Month and, therefore, an appropriate time to honor Eleanor King Hookham for her artistic talent and perseverance in establishing the world-class Elmhurst Art Museum in Wilder Park.
She was our choice after reviewing a compilation of 37 profiles of “The First Ladies of Elmhurst” by Ruth Strand and Eugenie Urick, in 2000. Hookham’s inspiring story is an excellent example for Women’s History Month in March.
In her profile, Hookham says, “I started when I was very young doing sketches of the children in the neighborhood and their dogs and cats. My mother had a green thumb. We always had fresh flowers in the house. She would say, ‘You go paint those flowers before they wilt.’ So, I have been painting flowers since I was ten years old!”
In her profile, she credits Martha Avey, an Oklahoma City College instructor, with teaching her the “basics of color, composition, and perspective.” It was her only formal training in painting. Avey also piqued her general interest in the art world in New York, London, Paris, and Rome. As she progressed, she started participating in art shows and even was shown in a New York art gallery.
She clearly had the talent, but then there was an interruption. She married, had one child, divorced, remar-
ried, and ultimately moved to Elmhurst with her second husband, Commander Robert Hookham. They had two children. She wanted to start painting again, but Hookham said, ‘Mama, you better stay out of the big galleries and raise the children and then we’ll pitch in and help you.’”
As the story is told, she so loved art she found a way to follow her passion. Once her children were older, she started teaching over 180 children and adults art in her home until 1983. With the money she earned and her husband’s support, she then resumed her personal art career.
Her paintings started showing in Chicago, then New York and France. Ultimately, she presented 22 onewoman shows in Paris until 1992 and then began appearing in Chicago again.
As much as she loved painting, she also found time for community service. She founded the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild in 1946 and the Elmhurst Fine Arts and Civic Center Foundation in 1974.
As her profile relates, her dream and passion were to see an Elmhurst Art Museum, ideally in Wilder Park. In the beginning, the Elmhurst Park District turned down the idea. But she was determined. With her husband, she continued to raise money any way they could.
The Art Guild began buying lots on Virginia Street. Eventually, through land purchases and cooperation with the Park Dis-
trict, the City of Elmhurst, and the Fine Arts and Civic Center Foundation, the property was exchanged, and a site was dedicated at the north end of an expanded Wilder Park.
In October 1993, there was a groundbreaking, and in September 1997, there was a Grand Opening for the Elmhurst Art Museum, and her dream was realized.
As part of the museum, there is also a wing devoted to an architecturally significant Ludwig Mies van der Rohe home. Her profile relates that the entire glasshouse was slowly removed from its foundation and literally moved off its site on Prospect Avenue to Wilder Park. The acquisition was considered quite a coup and added to the museum’s reputation. In 2000, Chicago Magazine selected Elmhurst as the «Best Suburban Art Museum.»
Eleanor King Hookham passed away in 2003, but her legacy lives on. Her works, which she signed as “El King,” are on display worldwide. And the Elmhurst Art Museum is a fitting tribute to her talent and dedication to painting and all the fine arts. ■
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Keeping A Good Thing Going
Mayor Scott Levin talks to Elmhurst Magazine about the State-Of -The-City and LeadershipBY SCOTT JONLICH & LARRY ATSEFF PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITSKI
Elmhurst Magazine Publisher Scott Jonlich and Managing Editor Larry Atseff sat with Elmhurst Mayor Scott Levin to talk about his first full term in office. His office navigated through the latter part of the Covid-19 pandemic that presented challenges and sparked ideas for a better future in the place he has called home for 25 years.
Boasting a vibrant downtown and charming neighborhoods, Elmhurst has quietly grown to a population of over 46,000 with strong academic schools and cultural institutions that include a symphony and an art museum. It has a well-regarded college, now a university, and a sense of community among business and government leaders who are willing to work together to improve Elmhurst. The Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts will be a reality in the next few years. What’s not to like?
Levin won a 3-way race in April 2021 after being a 5th-ward alderman for ten years. He ran on a platform of responsible development, integrity, transparency, cooperation, and a full review of government departments. After he won, with 41% of the vote, he said, “people want to get away from division, and the election shows people are looking for someone who will reach out to both sides, progressive and conservative, and govern from the middle.”
When we sat down with him the other day, without prompting, he started our conversation by saying those same words about his job, day to day.
As it turns out, no one should be surprised. Levin’s family background is of community service. His father was a police officer. Levin got a degree in business, then a master’s degree in Public Administration. During a stint as Deputy Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority, he also went to law school at night and graduated with a law degree. He did not
want to practice law, but he thought it would be a good idea to have that background if he wanted to advance in public service. He eventually became a litigation attorney and a law firm partner with over 35 years in the practice.
As a resident of Elmhurst, his son, and daughter went to York High School. He became an alderman of the 5th ward in 2011 and served as an interim Mayor for a short time in 2013.
He admits he inherited a good situation. Since the 60s, preceding mayors, government, and business leaders learned how to work together and successfully tackled significant issues like flooding and the business downturn when Oakbrook Center opened in 1962. The town is so proud of its history that the Elmhurst History Museum is an actual City department.
His recent “State of the City” address, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, reflected on how business and
“The streets of downtown Elmhurst are alive with people. On a summer night, it feels like a resort and everybody is happy.”
- MAYOR LEVIN
government leaders interact. Levin acknowledged the people around him, stating, “We have smart, energetic people in this town, and we enjoy working together.”
EM asked him what he has been proud of during his tenure. He points to his start of small group meetings every Monday with a cross-section of council members and City Manager Jim Grabowski. The Monday meetings are designed to hear all sides and all ideas, and not just people who agree with you. “As a lawyer, I have learned the importance of negotiations. Most cases are settled before one side or the other wins. By talking, we adjust. It has built trust, and we now have better plans and direction as a result.”
Another situation Levin is proud of is using common sense in bidding. He introduced a “mini” RFP (requests for proposals) concept. RFPs can be costly and time-consuming for everybody, including the government.
Levin recalled, “We had just built a parking garage on Addison Avenue, and there was an existing surface lot right across the street. I asked, ‘Why do we need that when we have a new parking garage? Instead of hiring a consultant to help figure out what to do with the surface lot, why don’t we just tell people we have a vacant lot and ask what they would do with it if it was sold to them?’ We got three bids and it was taken care of quickly. We decided to go with a fitness facility (FCC) and we now have a business that draws thousands to our downtown and we saved the expense of a drawn-out process.”
The Addison Avenue lot led to a discussion of Transit-Oriented Development or TOD. This term describes how towns build residential developments in their downtown where there can be less traffic and more people downtown shopping and doing business. Elmhurst planners and the City Council saw the opportunity and today, empty nesters, singles, and
young couples enjoy beautiful apartments. The streets of downtown Elmhurst are alive with people. He says, “On a summer night, it feels like a resort and everybody is happy.”
Of course, not everything is perfect. Mayor Levin said “Like all suburban towns, crime, and violence in Chicago are issues to be concerned about. We all have to be smart and prepared. We want Chicago to succeed, too, because it is our business and cultural center. If Chicago doesn’t do well, we all suffer.”
While being Mayor is a part-time position, Levin enjoys being an ambassador for the town while juggling a full-time law practice. A native of Evanston and Chicago, Levin enjoys talking to new residents. “They tell me, they can’t believe how wonderful it is to live in Elmhurst. I can’t agree more. Our population is growing. On balance, things are going well, and we can keep a good thing going together.” ■
“Like all suburban towns, crime, and violence in Chicago are issues to be concerned about. We all have to be smart and prepared. We want Chicago to succeed, too, because it is our business and cultural center. If Chicago doesn’t do well, we all suffer.”
- MAYOR LEVIN
ELMHURST UNIVERSITY Offers It All, And Then SomeBY LARRY ATSEFF | PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITISKI
President VanAken joined Elmhurst University in the summer of 2016. Shortly after starting, the captains of the Bluejay football team gave the 14th president a custom jersey, which he displays proudly in his office.
Elmhurst Magazine recently sat down with Elmhurst University President Troy VanAken, Ph.D., to learn how and why the school changed from 4-year Elmhurst College to 4-year Elmhurst University, and the effects the change is having. After all, he has been President for 6 years and has been very much involved in the transition, which officially took place in July 2020.
As he explains, “First, we wanted to better reflect the 70 majors and 15 master’s programs we offer. That number is going to grow. Secondly, we wanted to distinguish EU from the many fine 2-year junior colleges nearby. Thirdly, we wanted to attract more international students. Many regard the term “college” as a tradetype of school, and less than a university. Importantly, at the same time, because the student body is ‘majority-minority” and 50% are first-generation college students in their families, it was critical that students and their parents continued to feel welcome, as we made the transition.”
“I credit the faculty and staff with the highest and most genuine personal attention they give students so they truly do feel welcome at what is now Elmhurst University.”
He has to take some of the credit. During our photography session, as we went to three locations, it was remarkable how many students VanAken knew by their first names.
He smiles, saying, “The shift is working. Our first-year enrollments have set records. Alumni giving has also grown nicely. I make it a priority to be visible. I attend Bluejays games and meetings with village officials regularly. I can text just about every key elected official or business leader in town and I will get a reply within the hour. We have a large number of students participating in Elmhurst’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade. And, being right in the middle of the bustling downtown of Elmhurst is a real advantage for the students as well as the businesses. In addition, Union Pacific
commuter trains stop in Elmhurst and every station between the Chicago Loop to Elburn in the west, so it is a convenient commute. It all helps.”
Other performance measures bear out how well Elmhurst University is performing these days for the approximately 3,800 students attending. US News & World Report ranks EU #13th Best Regional university in the Midwest, and #1 in Illinois, #8 in social mobility, #9 among most innovative schools in Midwest. Forbes ranks it
school has a lot to offer.
About 1000 of the 3800 students enrolled, live on campus. And the 48-acre campus itself is another advantage. It is a beautiful arboretum of hundreds of Elm trees and classic architecture. The Athletic Department fields teams in 23 NCAA Division 3 Athletic sports and several Elmhurst teams are quite successful. The Bluejays basketball team this past year got to the finals. Besides classes and athletics, the university has doz-
the 16th America’s Best College in Illinois. And, very importantly, US News ranks EU as #19th Best Value for Universities in the Midwest.
Retention of students from freshmen to sophomores is a high 70%. The student-to-teacher ratio is very good at 13:1. Classes are taught by 158 fulltime faculty (no student aides) and 82% have the highest education level in their specialty. There are 70 majors and 15 master’s degree programs.
In other words, educationally, the
ens of student activity groups to help them round out their experience. It also boasts a very welcoming Student Activities Center, complete with a fireplace.
So, all in all, things are progressing well. So much so, that parking on campus is going to become a bit of a problem, as the school is hemmed in by the railroad tracks, homes, and the downtown itself. As VanAken says, “It is a nice problem to have, and we’ll figure it out.” We had to agree with him. ■
“I credit the faculty and staff with the highest and most genuine personal attention they give students so they truly do feel welcome at what is now Elmhurst University.”
I l l i n o i s A r b o r i s t A s s o c .
T r e e C a r e I n d u s t r y A s s o c .
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T i m M u l l i s , O w n e r
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C a l l u s t o d a y t o m a i n t a i n v a l u e a n d s a f e t y t o y o u r p r o p e r t y .
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BUILDING A TOP TEAM THROUGH LOYALTY
The Drake Hotel wins Impressive awardBY CHUCK FIELDMAN
Jim and Tely Nagle took one for the team more than two years ago when the coronavirus pandemic pretty much shut down the hospitality industry all over the world.
Rather than listen to the advice of some advisors, who suggested they furlough the approximately 120 employees who worked for them at the Drake Oak Brook Hotel, the Nagles kept their team together by keeping everyone employed.
With guests not staying in the hotel, most of the usual work usually done at the Drake wasn’t necessary. So, the Nagles called an audible and had everyone take on other jobs at the hotel, mostly to help with the remodeling of the award-winning facility.
“We had people doing all kinds of work they had never done before, but it kept them employed with their health insurance,” Jim Nagle said. “I think it made everyone feel appreciated, which they are, and now they still feel part of our family.”
And that feeling of family among the employees of the Drake is immediately present when listening to those employees talk about working there, especially since the pandemic began.
“They really care about everyone who works there,” said Anna Majus, the Drake’s director of banquets, who has worked at the hotel for the past 51/2 years. Majus said Jim Nagle’s inspiration to employees has been incredible.
“He’s not just an owner, he’s a leader who listens to our ideas,” she said. “I’ve never met anyone who cares more about employees than Tely and Jim. People want to work here because they are so loyal. We all feel like family. Nobody wants to leave. They created an amazing culture
The loyalty that the Nagles have shown to their employees, who gladly have returned it, had a lot to do with the Drake recently being voted one of the best hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, a lux-
ury and lifestyle travel magazine published by Condé Nast.
The Drake Oak Brook Hotel was voted No. 2 in the Midwest, No. 11 in the United States and No. 47 in the world in the Condé Nast Traveler 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards.
It’s not the first time the Drake has received an award, but the status of the Condé Nast Traveler accolade takes it to a new level.
“The other awards we have won have been exciting, but this one is really extra special because it’s the gold standard,” said Jim Nagle, who along with his wife purchased the Drake in 2013 and reopened it two years later.
The Nagles certainly are entitled to take a bow for having received the Condé Nast Traveler award, but Jim Nagle deflects most of the credit to the employees, or “the team,” as he prefers to call them.
“Our team really is the reason for this,” he said. “They are very loyal and take a lot of pride in what we do here. You can have a beautiful hotel, but it really is having a great team that makes things special.”
Franco Sanfelice, the main carpenter at the Drake, has worked there for six years. And he agreed with Majus’ take about employees being very happy to work for the Nagles.
“Everybody loves being here, and nobody wants to leave,” Sanfelice
“The only way we could keep everyone was if they helped with the construction,” Jim Nagle said.
Enrique Mexicano worked at several other hotels before coming to the Drake about seven years ago to work as a bartender and with banquets. And he said life at the Drake for employees is very different than what he experienced in previous jobs.
“The owners treat us like a family, and it feels very good because you don’t get that kind of appreciation at most other hotels,” Mexicano said.
The pandemic-caused shutdown at the Drake happened in March 2020, a month after the hotel received designation as part of the Autograph Collection, a group of independent upper-upscale to luxury hotels within the Marriott International portfolio.
Jim Nagle said he is particularly proud that the Drake has received recognition when it’s being compared to many well-known, big city hotels in consideration.
The Drake was the winner as Top Hotel 2020 and again in 2022 in Illinois in the World Travel Awards.
“We’re virtually the only hotel with any of these awards that’s in a suburb,” Nagle said. “I think the big thing that separates us from other great suburban hotels is our outdoor
space, which we’ve fixed up.
“It was always our goal and dream to get to the point where we could win an award from Condé Nast Traveler, but we didn’t think we’d get to this point this quickly. There are a lot of great hotels out there, but at the end of the day, people make people happy. And that’s what our great team does every day.”
Being good to the employees isn’t the only thing the Nagles have focused on to help others.
Jim Nagle said that in the last year, donations to various charities totaled $7,447.00 via gift certificates for overnight accommodates, brunches and high teas.
There also was a donation of $745.83 through the Drake’s Giving Tuesday promotion and a donation of $1018.01 last year through the same promotion to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana.
In 2021, the Drake established an annual tree lighting, open to the public. The event supported the Salvation Army with the Red Bucket bell ringers, along with a food drive. Donated food was given to the Salvation Army.
In April 2021, The Drake hosted an American Red Cross blood drive, and a donation of $5,000 was made in 2022 to help bring fireworks to the July 3 Taste of Oak Brook..
The Drake hosted the 630 Party each June in 2017-2020. This was a large event, open to the public, with food and drink to celebrate the Drake and the community.
Finally, The Drake was the title sponsor of Polo 2019- 2022 in Oak Brook. The hotel donated all of the labor and discounted food and beverages. ■
The Past Lives On at the ELMHURST HISTORY MUSEUMBY CHUCK FIELDMAN | PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITSKI
Dave Oberg sounds a bit like a proud parent when he talks about the Elmhurst History Museum.
The museum’s executive director arrived there just over five years ago and has a total of 33 years experience working in museums on his resume.
“I’ve always been a big fan of this museum. It punches well above its weight,” Oberg said of the Elmhurst History Museum. “It definitely has a
strong following, and not just from Elmhurst. We get people coming from many different towns. There’s definitely an Elmhurst hook, but we have a lot of very popular exhibits that get into broader topics, such as pop culture. Our summer exhibit of Iconic Chicagoland Food was very popular, as an example.”
The stated mission of the Elmhurst History Museum is to engage people with history through thoughtful collection, enlightening exhibits, and diverse educational experiences.
THE MUSEUM FULFILLS ITS MISSION BY ACCOMPLISHING THE FOLLOWING:
• Presenting historical concepts and museum collections to the public through exhibits, educational programs, tours, and publications.
• Acquiring and caring for locally significant artifacts, records, documents, photographs, audio-visual materials, and publications related to Elmhurst history.
• Offering cultural, social, and learning opportunities related to the history and heritage of the regional community and the world at large.
• Providing research services to enable an understanding of local history and to make the museum’s collections available to the public.
• Maintaining two historically and architecturally significant buildings: the Glos Mansion and the Churchville Schoolhouse.
“The Museum fills an essential role in the life of the community by revealing the quality of life in years past and providing a basis on which community pride can grow and endure,” Oberg said.
The Museum connects people with history by presenting an eclectic mix of changing exhibits on a broad range of history-related topics, an engaging interactive exhibit on Elmhurst’s own history, plus a wide array of public programs, exhibit tours, school and scout programs, and spe-
cial community events, he said.
“We always are trying to explore new topics,” Oberg said. “Sometimes, we try to align those topics with the school curriculum. We do get a lot of field trips at the museum.”
Oberg said museum officials continuously look for ways to appeal to various age groups. “We look for ways to connect with as many people as we can, and that means so many different age groups,” he said.
Oberg said the museum makes an effort to collect oral history from those who have something to offer.
“There’s a little more history each year,” he said. “Typically, our calendars is planned out at least two years in advance, and it takes a lot of work to do that.”
THE ELMHURST HISTORY MUSEUM’S EXHIBITS INCLUDE:
• An award-winning interactive exhibit, By All Accounts: The Story of Elmhurst, examining the city’s 165-plus-year history.
• An array of temporary exhibits developed from the museum collection and other regional history-related topics.
• Traveling exhibits created by the Museum staff that are rented and loaned to other institutions.
• A rotating schedule of national touring exhibits from other museums and sources.
The Museum’s collection includes a permanent accumulation of more than 15,000 three-dimensional artifacts, archives featuring letters, manuscripts and more than 10,000 historic photographs, more than 300 linear feet of personal, business, and City of Elmhurst records, a library of more than 500 books, microfilm copies of Elmhurst newspapers, censuses, and Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.
The museum offers extensive resources for authors, researchers, residents and students to discover more about the city’s history.
The Elmhurst History Museum was founded in 1957 and is operated by the City of Elmhurst.
The museum is located at 120 E. Park Ave., in the Glos Mansion, which was built about 1892 and is the former home of Elmhurst’s first Village President, Henry Glos, and his wife, Lucy.
Along with the museum, staff also operates the Churchville Schoolhouse, a restored National Register of Historic Places property located at 3N784 Church Road in Bensenville. It was built about 1850 and is one of
the only remaining one-room schoolhouses on its original site. The schoolhouse was reopened for public use in 2010 after an extensive restoration process.
The Churchville Schoolhouse provides visiting schoolchildren and other groups with an authentic living history experience and is available to visit by reservation. Group tours are
available and occasional public programs and events for both families and adults are planned.
Both the Elmhurst History Museum and the Churchville Schoolhouse are supported by the non-profit Elmhurst Heritage Foundation. Museum Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday-Friday, 1-5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The museum is usually closed on Mondays and holidays, including Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day. General Admission is free; there are nominal fees for tours and select programs.
For more information, call the museum, (630) 833-1457. ■
Wedding TRENDSBY KRISTINA TAHERI
There are ever-changing trends for a lifetime event that has remained fundamentally the same. A couple meets, love happens, and a proposal is forthcoming. Excitement ensues as dates are set for engagement soirees, showers, ceremonies, and receptions; all celebrating a new life together for the bride and groom-to-be. The wedding planning begins! But where to start?
Let’s look at some specific trends for 2023.
Micro weddings are not necessarily going away after trending due to the pandemic. These charming events are not always about saving money, but about the intimacy which can be created by a ceremony shared with those closest to you.
That being said, after the wedding boom year of 2022, we are now seeing a trend toward maximalism in décor, lighting, music, food, and guest count in response to the pent-up demand and shortage of options of the past three years. Let’s go bold is on the mind of many!
2023 is about reinventing the wedding rush of the recent past. There is now slightly more time to lock in a choice of venue and available dates. The more relaxed process of seeking a location and personalization should enhance the experience. For those desiring a destination wedding, the dollar is presently strong and travel restrictions are easing substan-
tially. A villa in Italy surrounded by vineyards, a historic Spanish Parador with mountain views, or a tropical beach in Costa Rica are all, more than ever, within reach. Scatter the event with local cultural touches, and your guests are sure to be delighted.
Couples have recently had to realize that flexibility of dates, days of the week, and timeframes could be a plus in planning. More venue choices are available on a Friday or Sunday. Late morning or early afternoon ceremonies allow guests to rest up for a festive nighttime reception. A sophisticated champagne brunch in a chic setting with jazz playing or a rustic Ralph Lauren-inspired outdoor lunch with interactive entertainment can be memorable and
unexpected settings following the ceremony.
Mirrored or artistic dance floors with dramatic overhead ceiling décor are in vogue. Large ceiling fixtures in brass, crystal, or drum shades draw the eye up. Swaths of lush mixed florals hanging over the bridal table or other clustered areas define the spaces for added dimension. And while classic soft bridal pallets of white mixed with organic green foliage or textured neutral tone-on-tone decor are timeless, vivid colors are coming on strong for 2023. Flowers in sophisticated but seasonal shades of deep purple, hot pink, sunny gold, or vivid orange are adding excitement. And, if patterned linens, custom lounge seating, espresso martini bars, and rockstar bands sound like a night of disco;
that may well be the appeal for some party-on clients. Whimsical designs and esthetics are taking center stage as this year progresses.
And let’s not neglect the importance of many bridal couples’ thoughts toward more stainability. Eliminating items of single use, preferring large potted plants placed around the room for refreshing décor, and donating floral arrangements after the reception to note a few.
No longer just a destination wedding concept, guests today may receive a suite of invitations. Formal requests to attend events such as themed icebreaker welcome parties, rehearsals, the main draw, or a day of golf or spa activities for those with spare time may be extended. Many recent invitations are showing high-touch personalities like custom water-color crests, witty wording, and vibrant hues for 2023, yet online response tracking is a-ok with our tech-savvy couples.
FASHION AND JEWELRY:
Brides are starting to go all out in whimsical gowns with an emphasis on their personalities. From classic Kate Middleton to chiffon ball gowns with full sleeves to flowing florals. Silk pastels are everywhere in flattering baby blue, pink, and ivory. Veils are going longer and edgy slits are showing up in full gathered skirts. The attire change to a chic white cocktail-length dress with feathers or the satin pantsuit adds unexpected sophistication. And brides may be curating their outfits in white to complement each special event ranging from the engagement party to the big day.
The wedding party is more frequently encouraged to show their own personality. Given general guidelines for individual selection of attire based on color, fabric, or pattern, bridal attendants’ own style can be more clearly appreciated. For men at the party, more velvet, dark blue, and even dark green is becoming more popular this year.
The oversized wedding cake is back
and heavily decorated. Multiple tiers are showing up with texture, décor, sentimental toppers, and swirls of cascading flowers. Ethnic food trucks for snacks toward the tail end of an outdoor tented wedding are catching on and vegan and vegetarian dinner options at receptions are more popular than ever. Brown bars, carts of specialty drinks rolled between guests, and interactive food presentations will be big this year.
Brides are leaning toward a more natural look in skin, make-up, and hair. A more sophisticated version of their typical hairstyle is being buffed up for the day. The same is being done with makeup as it is being professionally applied. Makeup that is too unnatural or a heavily sprayed and pinned up hairstyle does not offer today’s brides the feeling of wanting to look like themselves…but just a little more glamorous!
Many bridal couples now want to capture this magical time more naturally. They want fewer interruptions for posed groups and formal photos. The bride walking solo prior to joining her parents halfway down the aisle, friends bent over with laughter, the young ring bearer nearly dropping the rings, or an elegantly dressed guest looking suspiciously at her ten-year-old in his first suit as he sidles dangerously close to the wedding cake. Candid shots more realistically capture the day. And don’t forget the couple’s pet pooch which has become a big part of the festivities. In Blur Motion style or vivid realistic photos, time is lovingly preserved.
Kristina Taheri, of Kristina Taheri Special Events, is located in Hinsdale, Illinois. With over twenty years of planning and executing elevated wedding, social and business events, Kristina is equally comfortable working with clients hosting intimate gatherings or hundreds of guests in a luxury hotel or trendy setting. Educated at Cornell University in hospitality management and having lived and worked in France, New York, San Francisco, and now Chicago for a decade, Kristina incorporates sophisticated trends in her work and pairs with some of the hottest venues and talents in the area. Her personalized service takes each client’s unique inspiration into account to present flawless events.
Gifts of fine China, crystal, and candlesticks are taking somewhat of a backseat. Couples now seem to be opting for more casual household pottery and goods as well as items such as camping gear, funded experi-
ences, or donations to personally meaningful organizations.
In summary, we advise our couples to always consider fresh, current ideas but balance choices so that your wedding tips towards timeless vs. trendy. ■
from local industry expert Magnificent Milestones
"It's fun to be fun! While I prefer traditional text for the main invitation, I enjoy weaving whimsical wording into the accompanying pieces such as reply cards and additional inserts. It provides an extra touch of personality from the couple to their special guests."– Kara Gordon, Owner + Designer, Magnificent
www.magnificentmilestones.com │ @mag.milestones
Independent and private schools continue to thrive
The western suburbs are lucky to be the home of several exceptionally strong schools. Many have a rich history and are known throughout the communities they serve for academic excellence, a wide selection of extracurricular programs, and an inspiration for learning. Choosing a private or independent school is a complex decision for families and students, with many great options available. Visiting each school is paramount for an informed choice, but insight into each school's unique traits - from their point of view - helps illustrate their message. Thank you to our partners highlighted in this exclusive feature for Elmhurst Magazine to provide our readers with relevant information and enable them to discover each school's distinctive characteristics.
Fenwick High School
Fenwick, a Dominican Catholic College Prep High School, was founded in 1929, as an allboys school. In 1992, girls were admitted for the first time. Today, the college prep school has just over 1,000 students, coming from 86 different zip codes. Since its founding, Fenwick has maintained its 100% college matriculation rate, with many students attending top American and international universities.
At Fenwick students grow in every aspect of their lives from their academics to their relationship with their faith. A high level of curriculum and instruction happens on a daily basis in a smaller classroom setting. This gives the unique opportunity to challenge each student individually and pushes them to become the best version of themselves, both in and out of the classroom, with the support of their highly accomplished faculty and staff.
Fenwick’s philosophy of education is based on four foci: the flourishing of the human person, the Catholic theological tradition, the spirituality of the Dominican Order and the liberal arts. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Fenwick as an “Outstanding American High School,” making
Fenwick tied for the #1 ranked preparatory school in the Chicago area.
Fenwick has 30 IHSA sponsored athletic programs that have combined to win 32 IHSA State Championships. Fenwick provides over 50 culture and interest clubs and organizations for the student body to join giving the students the opportunity to grow and connect outside of the classroom.
Every single student at Fenwick is cared for, appreciated, and supported. Students are educated to lead, achieve and serve while growing intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically in a disciplined and diverse environment.
All graduates of Fenwick emulate two qualities – a growth mindset that allows for lifelong learning and an appreciation for those around them. They also carry on the tradition of excellence and serve as compassionate leaders, committed to justice and peace, in a changing global society. ■
The educational philosophy at Fusion Academy is “Love, Motivate, and Teach.” The unique model offers a personalized school experience for every student through one-on-one instruction and life-changing results for students and families.
Fusion Academy Oak Brook, one of 80 campuses in the country and one of four in the Chicago area, opened in 2016. Currently, the school has 40 middle or high school students. These students benefit from a personalized education experience with a one-to-one teacher and student model. Academic support happens in real-time, helping students flourish emotionally, socially, and academically.
The foundation of Fusion Academy, a fully accredited school, is creating a trusting, authentic relationship between the teacher and student. Once this is built, the motivation determined in partnership between the student and teacher helps teachers keep students engaged and inspired. From there, all teaching is personalized to the student’s strengths and learning preferences, with the teacher ensuring a student understands the material – mastery learning - before moving on to new topics.
Beyond personalized learning, The Oak Brook Campus offers various extracurricular activities, including student council, Dungeon and Dragons club, improv club, art club, Internet Creators club, drum club, chess club, and anime club. The schools host various events for parents and the community, like education nights on essential topics, art showcases, and more.
Students can start at any time of the year, including midsemester. In addition to the full-time program, any student can attend Fusion Academy for tutoring or single-class credit. Full-time or part-time, there is a commitment made to the students to develop them into critical thinkers who are resourceful, self-aware, and inclusive. These outcomes embrace the Social-Emotional Learning themes, which are also embedded into the curriculum and programming.
Each Fusion Academy graduate has a unique path, but graduates have been accepted at over 250 U.S. Colleges and Universities. Graduates are ready to forge their path due to the positive mentoring relationships and personalized education experience Fusion Academy offers. ■
Montini Catholic High School
Founded in 1966, Montini Catholic is a family-centered, college preparatory comprehensive high school rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus as emulated by founder, St. John Baptist DeLaSalle. Their LaSallian tradition recognizes the sacredness of all persons and educates students of diverse abilities, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds while emphasizing the importance of service and responsibility to Church, family, and community
Academically, their college preparatory experience prepares students for success in college and beyond. With an emphasis on small class size, courses are offered within three learning levels: Advanced Placement, Honors and College Prep. Four dual credit courses are also offered. A Signa Fidei program is offered for 20 students each year who enter Montini below grade level. Students are not placed in academic tracks and benefit from an individualized “Four Year Plan for Success” which helps them explore career interests and set goals. Over the last five years alone, graduating classes have averaged over $18,000,000 in college academic scholarship offers per year.
Bronco athletes take the same qualities for success in the classroom and apply them to the field! Bronco athletes develop crucial life qualities including leadership, dedication and confidence! Montini offers 13 men’s and 12 women’s athletic teams and have celebrated a total of 30 IHSA State Championships.
Extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations play a significant role in the overall development and education of a Montini student. 95% of the student body are involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Montini boasts one of the top Math and Robotics Teams in the state of Illinois. They also have the unique ability to live their faith through numerous retreats and service opportunities including two Habitat for Humanity trips and an International Service Trip.
The Montini Catholic family inspires its students to appreciate their differences and thrive as one community. ■
Timothy Christian School
As a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, Timothy Christian Schools is a preschool through 12th-grade college preparatory school located in south Elmhurst. It is committed to an excellence-driven academic program fostered by the eternally relevant morals, virtues, and values found in the Bible. Whatever a child’s goals are — they can reach them at Timothy Christian Schools.
From personalized and targeted instruction in the classroom, Timothy combines challenging programs with a Christ-centered community. Elementary and middle school students are placed in small groups to provide justright instruction, whether intervention, additional practice, enrichment, or extension is needed. This continues through high school, where time is built into the day for one-on-one and small group instruction. Timothy has academically rigorous classes for students who need to be challenged. Teachers ignite academic growth and help students identify and nurture their God-given gifts and talents — one student at a time.
There’s a spot for every student, from clubs to athletics to performing arts. Timothy offers over 40 extracurriculars and co-curriculars, with many students participating in two or more activities. Many of the extracurricular programs compete on the state and national levels. Last year, the Mock Trial team won State and competed in Nationals.
In the last decade, Timothy has invested nearly $60MM into capital improvements — including a new middle school, a high school renovation, and, most recently, a new athletic stadium with a turf field, tennis courts, and track. Timothy has done it all without debt and is committed to having one of the lowest tuition fees for a private school with similar programming and size in the western suburbs. Timothy Christian Schools offers more for less.
Timothy is committed to excellence in every area of our school. But above all, it wants all students to leave Timothy with the conviction to live out God’s purpose for their lives — and do it all for His glory. ■
ELMHURST CITY CENTRE Truly Means BusinessBY CHUCK FIELDMAN | PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITSKI
It speaks volumes about Elmhurst City Centre that membership is by choice, yet more than 250 businesses have chosen to join the organization.
The mission of Elmhurst City Centre is simple and to the point: to make the downtown a destination for consumers through concerted efforts in marketing and special events, physical appearance standards and improvements, and business retention and recruitment.
“It’s important to the community because we can do more together than individual merchants can do alone,” said Christy Sopko, Elmhurst City Centre coordinating director. “We’re always looking for ways to promote the downtown business district and looking to create a special experience for people who come here.”
Elmhurst City Centre has a Board of Directors along with a staff that includes Sopko, Executive Director Tom Paravola and maintenance supervisor Rob Bohn.
Along with special events and promotions, Elmhurst City Centre provides enhanced area beautification and additional snow removal, beyond what is provided by the City.
“We want to keep the downtown looking good,” Sopko said. “It’s kind of like an outdoor shopping mall, and more than half of our members are service providers.”
Along with the service providers, Elmhurst City Centre members run the gamut from retail stores selling a large variety of different items to restaurants that offer all types of food.
Some of the upcoming events on the Elmhurst City Centre calendar are:
Spring Scavenger Hunt: 100 Plush Ducks and their colorful umbrellas are hidden throughout City Centre merchant windows from March 24 through April 30
Wednesday Nights Live: Some of the region’s best cover bands perform every Wednesday night in the North York Plaza, starting June 7.
The Rock the Block Party, Sept. 8-9
Sopko said the Rock the Block party, always held the weekend after Labor Day, is the largest annual event presented by Elmhurst City Centre and attracted about 27,000 people to its most recent happening.
Diana Payne, a life-long Elmhurst resident and market manager for Gia Mia restaurant, 116 E. Schiller St., is a big fan of Elmhurst City Centre.
“I can confidently say that the Elmhurst City Centre has made a huge impact on the reputation of our beloved city,” Payne said. “Their events, like the Boo-tiful Saturday
and Rock the Block have developed a following that reaches far beyond Elmhurst, and their widespread marketing efforts provide the local businesses with an opportunity to reach new faces that may have been beyond our individual means.”
Payne said she also believes the reputation built from Elmhurst City Centre events helps to put Elmhurst on the map for prospective residents.
Scott Lewandowski, general manager of Fitness Formula Clubs Elmhurst, 140 N. Addison Ave., also is a fan of Elmhurst City Centre. “The staff creatively attract the Elmhurst residents and neighboring communities to our downtown area through their marketing and programming,” he said. “Their efforts bring customers to our businesses and create a great energy in downtown Elmhurst.”
Lewandowski said his business has been an active participant in the scavenger hunts, Rock the Block, Boo-tiful Saturday candy distribution and crafts, and gift card promotion. He noted that the homepage of the Elmhurst City Centre website currently is promoting fitness centers in the area with a “Sweat it Out at City Centre” campaign. “This has increased the number of guests coming to our facility in January,” Lewandowski said.
Elmhurst City Centre is a Special Service Area of the city, meaning that taxes are paid by business to fund the organization’s expenses. Sopko said she believes Elmhurst City Centre has a very positive future. “I think we’re here to stay,” she said. “We always try to keep our finger on what’s going on and look for new ways to help our businesses. In the short term, we’ll hang on to things that work.”■
Restaurant & Pizzeria
is an Elmhurst eatery which has been serving quality pizzas & pastas since 1982. It was one of the first pizzerias in this area to offer a panzerotti.
They’ve also made a name for thincrust pizzas, specialty items such as a white pizza topped with artichokes & basil & a full line of Italian pastas.
You can choose to dine in, takeout or have your food delivered.
Hours: Mon – Thurs 4pm – 9pm; Fri & Sat 4pm – 10pm; Sun 2pm – 9pm
graphed guitars and other memorabilia, among other ideas.”
“And, last, but not least, I know people in the world of music whom I can help bring to Elmhurst. I have a commitment from Jefferson Starship to perform on opening night.”
ecently, Cathy Richardson, the lead singer for Jefferson Starship, who also happens to live in Elmhurst, has joined the Board of Directors for the Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts,
This big news is just in time as the Board embarks on a shift in its fund-raising effort with an April 15 Gala. As ECPA Board Member Laura Michaud puts it, “Cathy sees ECPA’s potential and needs through the lens of a top-level artist, and we are delighted to have her.”
In a recent Elmhurst Magazine exclusive interview, Cathy elaborated, “I have been extremely fortunate to perform all over the world and I have come to understand what a venue should offer to performers, and what a venue should offer to audiences. I also think I can help in fundraising, certainly by performing; and by offering auctions of auto-
“All in all, I love the idea of what ECPA can mean to the community, and to the considerable talent in this town.”
In speaking further with Laura Michaud, a founder of Chicago performing arts venue, Stage 773, she gave us this perspective: “For decades, many attempted initiatives took place in support of the arts in Elmhurst to establish a venue for performing arts. Certainly, the talent is here: Elmhurst Symphony, the Elmhurst Children’s Theater, Elmhurst University Jazz Band, DuPage Dance Studio, and award-winning York High School musical shows, among others, provide a steady stream of talented local people to perform. The problem has been a lack of a venue. Groups have been predominantly performing in churches, schools, even bars.”
”So, in 2016, in discussions with several interested artists, business people, and an architect, we formed a Board and began our initiative for the “Elmhurst Centre For Performing Arts”.
“After much work and many studies ensuring viability, land for ECPA was secured in 2019 on 1st Avenue. It is in the heart of Elmhurst’s City Centre and just steps away from the Elmhurst train station, making it easy for people in the surrounding areas to attend.”
“Aside from myself, the Board includes architect Jeff Budgell, as Chairman, Doug Peterson, President of Chicago Records Management, CPA Cheryl Peterson, Rebecca Marianetti, Head of Theater and Choral Activities, York High School, Mark Hale, of Wintrust Bank, former Mayor Tom Marcucci, as an honorary board member, Cathy Richardson and more.”
“After the lull of the pandemic between 2019 and 2022, the momentum is back and the timing is right. Not only do we have Cathy, but we have other board members who also have a passion for the arts and a desire to help fundraise. We have added Nicole Alvarez, a lawyer who has a huge interest in dance, Monica Shah, a professional project manager for a major consulting company, and Francis Pepitone, a marketing specialist who recently moved from Chicago, and loves live theatre.”
The City of Elmhurst, along with ECPA, have shared expenses for multiple studies on the economic
impact on the city, and the financial feasibility of the centre. The latest Economic impact study has estimated that for every person attending an ECPA event, the nearby business community gains $60 in revenue. She adds, “ECPA meets with city officials and Mayor Scott Levin on a regular basis.”
“We have even created a video to illustrate what could be possible.” (Go to www.ecpa-elmhurst.org to see the video.)
She says, “Timing is better now, too. There’s always been interest in the arts in the western suburbs and it is even better now with the demographic shift we have seen over the last 10 years. Newer residents, from Chicago, enjoy and live in downtown Elmhurst. Many of these couples, empty nesters, and singles are also interested in the arts. ECPA will add to the downtown ‘vibe’”.
“Johnson Consulting, an international hospitality consulting firm, confirmed that ECPA should incorporate a rehearsal space to match the size of the actual stage, a great help for dance groups. In addition, the venue will be able to accommodate conventions, and meetings as well as performances.”
Michaud adds, “As a result of all these factors coming together, we are preparing to unveil a capital fundraising campaign in 2023. This is a big turning point for us and we kick it off with our Spotlight Gala on April 15th and a new location. It will be taking place at River Forest Country
Club. Tickets are $200 per person for drinks, dinner and dancing. The Gala will feature The Elmhurst University Jazz Band and The Men of Spirito.”
For tickets and more information, go to https://www.ecpa-elmhurst.org. ■
“All in all, I love the idea of what ECPA can mean to the community, and to the considerable talent in this town.”
- CATHY RICHARDSONLaura Michaud, ECPA Board Member
SINCE 1905 ITALY HASN’T BEEN THE SAME!
It all started with a very special spumoni created and lovingly produced by Lezza Spumoni & Desserts, Inc. The origin of this spumoni is Naples, Italy and the recipe came to Chicago’s West Side with Salvatore Lezza in 1905. The recipe has remained with the family for over 100 years!
How did you decide to become a chef?
I have always loved food, people, and different cultures, even from a very young age. The opportunity to become a chef gave me the peace and desire to create, cook and develop myself.
Do you have any most memorable moments that impacted your decision to have a career in hospitality?
When I was younger at Al Forno, I had an amazing opportunity to cook for the one and only Julia Childs. It was an honor and privilege. My head chef looked at me and said, “What you are feeling now is how you need to treat every guest that walks through the door, providing the same level of pride and service.” I will never forget that moment and put my best effort into the craft of my cooking to serve my customers.
Being a chef, do you have a favorite food?
I love all kinds of food, but Italian is my favorite. The food, cooking process, and culture are a true passion of mine. Their interpretation of regional cooking and how it differs across the country is intriguing and beautiful.
Can you share what makes Francesca’s Restaurants stand out from others?
Scott Harris founded Mia Francesca’s on Clark based on the fundamentals of cooking and service, using fresh, simple Italian cookery. Each Francesca’s location continues with that legacy today.
What can customers expect from Francesca’s Amici when they visit the restaurant?
Customers can expect a fantastic experience based on food, service, and overall sensibility of what great simple Italian food can offer. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but some of my personal favorites to prepare are the Ossobuco di Agnello, Broccoli ala Pugliese, and the Risotto Contadina.
Do you have any words of inspiration for anyone considering becoming part of the hospitality industry?
Learn from the best. Find mentors and push yourself to absorb what they are doing and how they are doing it. Put your authentic personality into your work; you will go far and have a very fulfilling life. ■
Infant Welfare Fashion Show Raises $175,000
Oak Brook Chapter Thanks Supporters For SuccessBY HINSDALE MAGAZINE STAFF | PHOTOS BY MARCELLO RODARTE
Expectations were high for the Oak Brook Chapter’s 50th Anniversary Mistletoe Medley benefit, “Hearts of Gold” on November 29 at Drury Lane. The Chapter reported that it raised $175,000, enabling it to reach an astounding $5 million in donations to the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago in 50 years.
Chapter Co-Presidents Marge Tresley and Linda Layland thank members, guests, donors, sponsors, advertisers, exhibitors, raffle contributors, and friends for their support. Members are already hard at work on Mistletoe Medley 2023, scheduled for November 28.
Le Meridien Hotel, Oak BrookBY LARRY ATSEFF | PHOTOS BY VICTOR HILITSKI
Marriott is known worldwide for its quality of hotels and service, especially among seasoned corporate business travelers as well as leisure travelers. The 104 Le Meridien hotels within the Marriott portfolio are yet another step up.
As Dick Turner, Le Meridien’s Oak Brook General Manager likes to say, “For travelers looking for a better travel experience, we have the right hotel, the right people, and the right location.”
“We have the right hotel, the right people, and the right location.”
DICK TURNER, LE MERIDIEN OAK BROOK GENERAL MANAGERMural by Chicago artist Justus Roe greets guests as they enter the main lobby
Easy access to airports, the Chicago area itself, a location right next to Oakbrook Center, over 170 luxury rooms and suites, a knowledgeable staff, two restaurants with fine food and hand-crafted beverages, a spa studio for massage, and an upscale workout room, all combine to make heavy travel schedules much more bearable.
When you enter the lobby, you immediately notice differences. A large mural by Chicago artist Justus Roe catches your eye depicting the metropolitan feel of Chicago. On purpose, furnishings recall the bygone era of international luxury travel when Air France founded the hotel chain in 1972 in Paris. El Tapeo, on the top floor, specializes in Spanish cuisine. When you work out, it is on a Peloton bike. If you wish, you can make an appointment with a professional massage therapist. Each hotel has a restaurant that is named for the exact longitude of the hotel’s location, recalling the origins of the chain. In Oak Brook, it is Longitude 87.
The photographs tell the story.
Aside from taking care of business and leisure travelers coming to the Chicago area, Le Meridien is also gaining popularity among local residents. “More and more locals come to our hotel for a weekend, our cuisine, and for our spa massage experience,” said Turner. “We have regulars stopping by on a monthly basis.”
Turner said his hotel gives special attention to wedding celebrations with his experienced staff. “We book weddings of up to 150 guests, and only one at a time for the ultimate in a memorable occasion.”
He is proud of his entire staff. Of the 23 Le Meridien hotels in North America, the guest satisfaction experience of the Oak Brook location continually ranks in the top 5. Turner personally replies to comments on guest satisfaction forms from travelers. He smiles when he says, “Guests are a little surprised when they get a response from me. It is one of many
ways we say to our guests that you are important to us.”
For more information, please call 630-368-9900. The website address is www.lemeridien.com/oakbrook
The restaurant website is www.eltapeooakbrook.com ■
ARMAND’S PIZZA IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILYBY LARRY ATSEFF | PHOTO BY VICTOR HILITSKI
Since 1956, starting on Taylor Street in Chicago, then Elmwood Park, to today at West First Street in Elmhurst, the Michael Caringella Sr. family has kept the business in the family. Caringella’s daughter, Angela, says, “We have been in this location for 22 years, and we still use the same family recipes for the pizza and our other signature dishes. We offer many varieties of pizza including our Yardstick pizza which is 3 feet long and one foot wide. It is a big seller for larger families. We use the freshest ingredients. That’s the way it has been for 66 years, and it will never change. Why should it? Business is good. We also have a thriving restaurant in Arlington Heights.”
“Our customers and workers love us and have been with us for years. Back in the early days, many in our family worked in the restaurant in Elmwood Park. And, believe it or not, some of our workers from Elmwood Park, and now their families, still come over here…as customers. They like the way they were treated and, of course, they love the pizza and items like the stuffed artichoke appetizers and our homemade minestrone and pasta fazoli soups. My father and mother were very generous with their knowledge,
their time and their money, helping others. It is like there is one large Armand family.”
When you walk in, you see a handsome bar to your left, and tables and chairs for 100 guests to the right.
When you come to pick up a pizza, you go to the window in the back, and you see a large, spotless, well-lit kitchen. It’s big because the menu is extensive, take-out is big and so is catering.
At the bar, there are a couple of key memories. Michael Sr., loved sports, especially baseball. In California where he lived in retirement, a group
of major league baseball players was in a fundraising golf tournament, near his home, and he happened to speak to a man running the match. One thing led to another, and Michael, Sr. ended up with a rare, autographed picture of Joe DiMaggio. That picture is just above the first cash register in the business…still in use at the bar.
There is another picture that Angela is very fond of. It is a photo of her late son Mark with Francis Ford Coppola, the director of the “Godfather” films. Mark was running the Elmhurst store, starting in his late teens, and got to be an expert at everything from making the pizza to running the bar, and handling the books. At a wine-tasting event, Mark met Coppola and they got to be friends because of the famous director’s wine business. Those wines, of course, are on the menu. Mark passed away in 2019. Now, Angela runs the business in Elmhurst, while brother Michael Jr., runs the Arlington Heights restaurant.
As for the future, she and her brother are working on ways to continue to keep it in the family and keep the traditions. She concluded our interview, saying, “Everyone has food memory, and people have great memories of our food, so we want to keep it going.” ■
Rugged coastlines, windswept landscapes and legendary hospitalityBY MAUREEN CALLAHAN
For a relatively small island, Ireland’s influence is far-reaching. Scores of immensely talented dancers, musicians, and artists either call this island-nation home, or have descended from it. The chill in the air is not for the faint of heart, but there’s plenty of wool for sale, and the world-renowned warmth of new friends understates it.
Read on for a few suggestions of places to visit in this land of celebrated poets, playwrights, storytellers, saints, and sinners. These are the people who discovered-or invented-humor, so relax and don’t plan to take much seriously- the Irish certainly don’t!
The Burren, County Clare
You’ll come away with an understanding of why “burren” evolved from a Gaelic word meaning “rocky
place.” Walk on the giant limestone slabs, pick some of the wildflowers growing between them, and take photos of the giant dolmen (stone, megalith monuments) that dot this moon-like landscape. You’ll likely visit the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren is only 40 minutes inland.
Giant’s Causeway, Country Antrim Drive to the area, then get out and walk some of Europe’s most rugged coastline. This 33-mile stretch consists of thousands of tightly-packed hexag-
onal shaped columns that slope down into the sea. It feels like the edge of the earth. Walk 30 meters above the water across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, that binds the mainland to a tiny island of the same name.
Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
AKA “St Patrick’s Rock,” it’s among Ireland’s most significant historic sites. Here, St Patrick converted King Aengus to Christianity in the fifth century, although most of the remaining structure dates to the 1200s. Surprisingly, many of the walls are still intact and worth a wander. Sunset is a great time to explore the castle-like cathedral structure and ancient graveyard.
Guinness Brewery, Dublin
Start thinking of the toast you’ll offer as you raise a pint of the freshest Guinness on earth. By the end of the 250-year-old stout’s 7-story museum
tour, you’ll understand why it’s the world’s highest-selling libation.
Old Bushmills Distillery, Country Antrim
The word “whiskey” evolved from a Scottish-Gaelic phrase meaning “water of life.” After 400 years, Bushmills takes triple-distilling whiskey as an art. Take in a tour of Northern Ireland’s scenic, jagged cliffs, then stop in to warm up with a glencairn of Northern Ireland’s smoothest whiskey.
Vintage Tea Trips, Dublin & Cork
Although tea is not a libation, it’s Ireland’s most available beverage. Therefore, it’s worthy of an entire afternoon. Sip your favorite kind as you tour either Dublin or Cork on a vintage, two-story bus. Sit back in time while you nibble local pastries and listen to jazz.
Blasket Islands, Dingle Peninsula
The ideal place to escape the modern world, with plenty of unspoiled nature. Visit on a sunny day, via the ferry ride from Dunquin, West Kerry. It is a good place to bird watch and catch glimpses of dolphins and whales. Visit the abandoned stone houses.
Aran Islands, County Galway
The ancient forts on top of these islands’ cliffs are some of Ireland’s oldest archeological remains. The islands first became populated when Oliver Cromwell’s decrees made the mainland dangerous for the Irish people. Listen to hear traces of Ireland’s native tongue as you visit the 38 national monuments found here.
Skellig Michael, County Kerry
Home to the ancient St Fionan’s Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archeological settlement is definitely worth the trek. Climb the 600-plus steep, uneven steps to the top to understand how this community of monks lived a cloistered- but likely fitexistence until their departure 800 years ago.
The Quiet Man Cottage & Museum, County Mayo
It’s almost possible to hear the banter of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara while visiting an exact replica of White O’Morn, The Duke’s cottage from this country’s most iconic film. Walk back into 1950s Ireland as you visit this “Graceland” of sorts. Hop on a walking tour of filming locations from here. Locals tell tales of how the whole town (and virtually all of Ireland!) was included- one way or another- in John Ford’s Hollywood masterpiece.
National Famine Memorial, County Mayo
On the banks of Clew Bay, pause for a moment at this somber, bronze memorial to the “coffin ships,”- vessels which earned their names from the number of people buried at sea while attempting to flee Ireland during the potato famine. Human skeletons depicted as the ship’s rigging are a stark reminder of food insecurity and those desperately seeking passage to
the United States.
Titanic Belfast Museum, Belfast
This museum showcases the world’s most recognizable ship from the exact spot from which it was designed, built and launched in the Belfast shipyards, now known as Maritime Mile.
Doolin, County Clare
Doolin is renowned as the unofficial capital of traditional Irish music and dance. Music sessions- informal, often unplanned meet-ups of random musicians- happen every evening in the area. Though they often look like groups of musicians huddled together, very informally, locals love when Americans show interest, so bring your fiddle, bodhrán (Irish drum), or tin whistle and join in.
Piper’s Corner Pub, Dublin
This place is the real deal, as Gaelic is actually spoken here. The pints and tunes are always flowing. Uillean pipers (Irish version of the bagpipes) use this as a home base. ■
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