BEST OF 2020
Congratulations to Hinsdale Magazine's 2020 “BEST of Reader Favoritesˮ! BY LARRY ATSEFF
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Food & Drink ASIAN Jade Dragon, Hinsdale Nabuki, Hinsdale Wild Ginger, Hinsdale FRENCH/INTERNATIONAL Marco's Kitchen, La Grange Mon Ami Gabi, Oak Brook Vie, Western Springs ITALIAN Capri Ristorante, Burr Ridge Davanti Enoteca, Western Springs Il Poggiolo Ristorante, Hinsdale MEXICAN Cafe Salsa, Countryside Taco Grill, Westmont Uncle Julio’s, Lombard
Parker’s in Downers Grove has been voted the best seafood restaurant for five consecutive years in Hinsdale Magazine’s 2020 Reader Favorites surveys. Pictured is Parker’s Salmon Veracruz.
marks the fifth year we have asked you to vote for the “BEST of Reader Favorites” across more than 40 categories, ranging from all types of eating places, to home remodelers, repair services, cleaners, salons and more. In this most unusual year for all of us, as businesses and customers of businesses, we have had to make many adjustments to cope with the pandemic. In the case of the businesses, they adjusted, but did not compromise. As a result, we thought it would be fitting to let you hear directly from the owners on how they have managed to adjust and still deliver “BEST of Reader Favorite” quality.
SEAFOOD Devon Seafood & Steak, Oakbrook Terrace Parker’s, Downers Grove Seasons 52, Oak Brook STEAK Gibsons, Oak Brook Old Town Pour House, Oak Brook Steak + Vine, La Grange SUSHI Dao Sushi & Thai, Burr Ridge Nabuki, Hinsdale Sushi House, Westmont IRISH PUB Ballydoyle, Downers Grove Irish Times, Brookfield SPORTS BAR Fuller House, Hinsdale Grill 89, Westmont York Tavern, Oak Brook BREWERY Emmett’s Brewing Co., Downers Grove Fuller House, Hinsdale Pour House, Oak Brook
Some 27 owners responded. While they admit it has been a struggle, their focus has been to thank customers for their loyalty. They have explained what they have done to accommodate needs for safety of customers and employees; they have introduced new services; they have kept what people have always expected; they have praised their employees, who are often overlooked. Instead of staying homebound, these people have come in, every day, to stock shelves, make the meals, serve the meals, work the registers, use their knowledge and talent to serve, make the deliveries and, above all, make sure each business is safe for business. On behalf of all the businesses, thank you.
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Sweet Spots & More BAKERY Kirschbaum’s, Western Springs Kirsten’s Danish Bakery, Burr Ridge Toni Patisserie and Café, Hinsdale BREAKFAST Egg Harbor Café, Hinsdale Page’s Restaurant, Hinsdale Yia Yia’s Pancake House, Hinsdale BRUNCH Grill 89, Westmont Seasons 52, Oak Brook The Drake Hotel, Oak Brook COFFEE HOUSE Cafe La Fortuna, Hinsdale Hash Stacks Café & Market, Western Springs Toni Patisserie and Café, Hinsdale BARBECUE Chuck’s Southern Comforts Café, Darien Q-BBQ, La Grange Uncle Bub’s BBQ, Westmont BURGER Country House, Clarendon Hills Fuller House, Hinsdale Vistro, Hinsdale ICE CREAM Andy’s Frozen Custard, Countryside The Daily Scoop, Clarendon Hills Oberweis, Western Springs SANDWICHES Fontano’s Subs, Hinsdale Jimmy John’s, Hinsdale Kramer Foods, Hinsdale CASUAL Country House, Clarendon Hills Fuller House, Hinsdale Vistro, Hinsdale OUTDOOR DINING Gibsons, Oak Brook Palmer Place, La Grange Topaz Café, Burr Ridge PIZZA Giordano’s, Oak Brook Giuliano’s Pizza, Hinsdale Lou Malnati’s, Western Springs
Alixandra Collections Alixandra Collections began 16 years ago in the dining room of Alix Chesno’s Hinsdale home. Chesno started the business out of a passion for discovering jewelry of great value and uniqueness. She opened a village retail location, and it eventually blossomed into locations throughout the Chicago suburbs, as well as in Arizona and California. “Due to a group of associates, customer service and unique product discoveries and an assortment that offers great value, the business continued to grow,” Chesno said. “Having upbeat and energetic stores where our customers can be fully outfitted and also find thoughtful gifts continues to set us apart.” “Owning a small business requires a tremendous amount of effort and risk, but it is something we believe in and are proud of. The challenges and obstacles we have faced this year have had a significant impact on us, just like many others, but we are fortunate to have a great community and dedicated employees supporting us. We are grateful for the patronage we have received, and appreciate the Hinsdale community’s dedication to rallying around the small businesses in the downtown area. Please come visit us again or for the first time, and experience why we were voted Hinsdale’s best.”
Café Salsa Ray Manz and his son Mark of Café Salsa are happy to have been selected as a “BEST of” in the Mexican restaurants category. “When the pandemic hit, we decided to close the restaurant so that it could be completely remodeled,” Manz said. “Now there is a relaxing beach vibe with the colors we chose, and we have expanded the patio areas. In combination with our authentic menu and our full bar of Mexican beers and liquors, we have an ambience that our customers have told us they love.” Mark Manz added that they have made it easier to order, pay and pick up so people can enjoy Café Salsa at home as well.
Country House Restaurant “These are very tough times for many businesses. We’re very lucky to have a great staff and decade’s worth of loyal customers.” -Dean Timson, general manager, Country House Restaurants
Dr. Ronak Patel, Hinsdale Orthopaedics “We have always promoted joint preservation through the least invasive method possible—[and] now, more than ever, though people are coming in asking for biologic injections, physical therapy and joint preservation techniques to help them with their musculoskeletal ailments. As the current unpredictability continues,
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I am seeing notably more patients wanting relief in their musculoskeletal ailments. Fortunately, my staff and I have always believed in minimally-invasive methods to restore function and relieve pain. Now, more than ever, there is a greater demand.” -Dr. Ronak Patel, Hinsdale Orthopaedics
Drake Hotel Oak Brook “The team is honored to have been selected for three ‘Best Of’ categories. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the newly-renovated Drake Oak Brook. My thanks and appreciation.” -Lee Hoener, general manager, First Hospitality Group, Inc.
Fontano’s Subs “The Fontano family has prided itself on making sure every customer that walks into our store feels like they are part of the family. We would like to thank the Hinsdale community for 30 years of loyalty. If not for their support, we would have never made it this far, especially during these difficult times.” -Dominick Fontano, Jr., son of Fontano’s Subs founder Dominick Fontano, Sr.
Giuliano’s Pizza “Thank you, Hinsdale Magazine readers, for voting us your favorite pizza. Our customers have been amazing and supportive through these times, and we are so appreciative. We are also grateful for our ‘family’ of staff. It is their hard work and attention to staying safe that has allowed us to deliver.” -Mike Weisz, co-owner, Giuliano's Pizza
Hash Stacks “Hash Stacks is so grateful to our community and all our customers for the love and support they have shown us in this crazy time. As we all continue to navigate this season, we continue to adapt and reinvent the proverbial wheel. We have moved (hopefully temporarily) away from full-service to ordering at the counter, and we continue to utilize our amazing storefront windows to serve customers who are still not comfortable coming inside. We continue to offer free local delivery, and continue to modify our menu to the new wave of carryout business that came along with the shelter in place order. Our fall barista and pastry menu is in full-swing, and we continue to offer daily dinner specials.” -Victoria Georgelos, owner, Hash Stacks
Hinsdale Bank & Trust “First and foremost, we need to thank our customers for their patience and understanding. At the outset of the pandemic, the bank needed to quarantine numerous staff members due to COVID exposures. This forced [the] closing of the lobby to
banking by appointment only—a far-cry from the high-touch approach that has been the bank’s hallmark since its founding in 1993. We stepped up online and digital capabilities, call-center utilization and other modalities… including socially-distanced at-home visits… to compensate for the inability to meet our customers face to face in our lobby. We are so grateful for our loyal customers, and it’s good to see the familiar faces (albeit masked) back in the bank. “During April and May, as part of the Small Business Administration Payroll Protection Program (PPP), the bank approved in excess of 1,000 loans totaling $248 million, with the median loan amount being $70,000. Numerous area small businesses and not-for-profit organizations benefited from around-the-clock involvement of our staff in the PPP process. “Recently, we have seen significant interest in our former Junior Savers returning to life in the community of their youth. They are circling back from California and Manhattan, as well as from Chicago. Invariably, the pattern is the purchase of a modestly-priced home, add square footage, convert a bedroom or den to a work/study space and remodel to create open concept areas.” -Dennis Jones, CEO, Hinsdale Bank & Trust
I Design Salon & Blow Dry Bar “With all the many challenges that 2020 has brought to business this year, we are grateful to highlight some of the bright spots at I Design Salon & Blow Dry Bar. This September, we proudly celebrated our 20th year in business, and during the pandemic shutdown, we created a beautiful remodeled salon for the community and our salon family. We are thankful everyday for all the memories with our longtime and new clients we have served these past 20 years, and we can’t thank everyone enough for their continued support during these unprecedented times. We are so honored to be named one of the ‘Best of’ 2020!” -Tami Abraham, co-owner, I Design Salon & Blow Dry Bar
Jade Dragon Restaurant “We thank you customers very much for another year of being chosen as a “Best of” for Asian restaurants. In our 27th year, we are now open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner, and we offer the best value in town.” -Ken Mei, co-founder, Jade Dragon
Jane’s Blue Iris Florist Jane’s Blue Iris is truly a family love affair with flowers, according to current owner Vickie Liarakos. It all started with great-grandmother Lucille Khort, who ran florist shops in Sandwich and Wisconsin, and continued with
Jane Gavran, who opened Jane’s Blue Iris at its current location on Washington Street, 35 years ago. Last year, Jane’s daughter Vickie, took over the business, and continues the tradition with occasional help from her daughter Sophie. Today, as Liarakos copes with the pandemic, not only does she continue to offer fresh flowers, but she is also putting her interior design experience into custom designs of “permanent botanicals.” “When customers come in, they can’t tell the difference between [the] custom, permanent botanical arrangements and live flower arrangements,” Liarakos said, “and they last for such a long time.”
Kramer Foods When you walk into Kramer Foods in Grant Square, you’re greeted by a well-lit, immaculate store, with wide aisles and every item on every shelf perfectly faced out, waiting to be put in your shopping cart. “We like to stock the shelves continuously, throughout the day, so they are always filled, and when a customer has a question, there is somebody right there to help,” said Amy Ludwigson, daughter of owners Ron and Kim Ludwigson. “Service is everything with us, from stocking shelves, to stocking fresh produce daily, to our butcher shop, where we freshly grind and hand-trim our meat.” Another service feature is the extensive deli, where you can order fresh salads or a custom sandwich. A customer favorite is their monthly deli menu, featuring freshly-made dinners, soups and hot sandwiches. “We also pride ourselves on fast checkout, so there is usually no waiting; and we are happy to load your groceries right into your car,” Ludwigson said. “Plus, we offer online ordering with curbside pick-up too.”
Mani & Pedi “Mani & Pedi has a specially-designed ventilation system for 100-percent air-exchange rate, a hospital-grade sterilization tool, acrylic boards across each station, clear visual signs that follow CDC guidelines and an ANT (Advanced Nail Technology)-certified owner, who has undergone training for infection control. “We are lucky to have two nail salon buildings next to each other on Chestnut Street, making proper social distancing possible. We are very prepared to keep our customers and our salon safe to give everyone the relaxation they want during their quarantine life. We are also coming up with special new additions to our pedicures that will help with their ‘quarantine dry’ feet. We ask our customers to keep checking out our salon for updates.” -Jay Paik, owner, Mani & Pedi
Marco’s Kitchen Marco Conte, proprietor/chef for Marco’s Kitchen in La Grange, recounted how he opened his restaurant the first week of April,
and, notwithstanding the adversity of opening during the Coronavirus pandemic, has quickly developed a loyal following. “Our timing couldn’t [have been] worse,” Conte said. “We weren’t able to open like any other new fine-dining restaurant. Our entire business plan needed to be reimagined because of the pandemic. Against all odds, we began to offer our patrons curbside pickup, international family dinners and our farmfresh, restaurant-quality produce bags. Word traveled very quickly, [and] both of our curbside options were successful enough to bring my staff and I through the pandemic. Our very intimate, socially-distanced dining room is now open and offering our guests the finest international cuisine and libations that the area has to offer. Almost every day of business brings a new hurdle; I simply repeat to myself, ‘Always forward, never back. Buon appetito!”
nabuki “The staff of nabuki would like to thank our customers for their support during these difficult times. We have always valued the opportunity to serve you, and now more than ever, realize how fortunate we are to be part of this community. “nabuki will continue with interior dining and curbside carryout, along with heated street dining tents for [the] fall season and beyond. We’re incredibly grateful for the patronage and patience through our evolving business operation during this pandemic.” -Stephen DeKorker, owner
Normandy Builders “Hinsdale is an amazing community, and we’re so happy to call this town our home. From the hundreds of homes we’ve been fortunate enough to renovate right here in Hinsdale over the years, to the many more people we meet around town, this community is a wonderful place for us to grow our company. It makes it a particularly humbling experience to be honored by our neighbors among the ‘Best of Hinsdale.” -Andy Wells, owner and president, Normandy Remodeling
Page’s Restaurant Hinsdale’s downtown is noted for its quaint charm of older buildings. Often, they retain their construction features, combined with updates. There’s one place that hasn’t changed much in almost 40 years: Page’s Restaurant. An institution in the village since 1981, Page’s is located right across the street from the main Hinsdale train station. Owner Cissy Rallo recalls her mother Kathleen Barbera bringing her to the small diner since childhood, often joking how great it would to own a place like Page’s. So, when the opportunity came to purchase it eight and half years ago, Rallo and her mother sealed the deal. They have kept the traditions of a small-
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Luxury & Style JEWELERS Bella Cosa, Willowbrook Merry Richards, Oakbrook Terrace Razny, Hinsdale HAIR SALON/SPA I Design Salon & Blow Dry Bar, Hinsdale Zazu Salon, Hinsdale Mario Tricoci, Oak Brook MANICURE/PEDICURE Mario Tricoci, Oak Brook Elysian Nail Spa, Hinsdale Mani & Pedi, Hinsdale LUXURY HOTEL Four Seasons, Chicago The Drake Hotel, Oak Brook The Peninsula, Chicago FITNESS CENTER Life Time Fitness, Burr Ridge Orangetheory Fitness, Willowbrook Spark Fitness, Hinsdale YOGA/PILATES CorePower Yoga, Hinsdale Life Time Fitness, Burr Ridge Plate28, Hinsdale WOMEN’S BOUTIQUE Alixandra Collections, Hinsdale Lepa Boutique, Burr Ridge Sweet William, Hinsdale Vintage Charm, Hinsdale BANQUETS Ashton Place, Willowbrook The Drake Hotel, Oak Brook Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace
town, old-fashioned diner going. Rallo and Barbera have kept many original dishes, while adding their own tastes to the menu. “We are proud to serve food made from scratch, such as popular biscuits and gravy, breakfast dishes such as skirt steak and eggs, three egg omelets, pancakes and crepes,” Rallo said. “For lunch, you can try our homemade soups, sandwiches, gyros, salads and other classic dining staples. “Now that fall is upon us, most folks know about Page’s famous apple-cider donuts made on the premises, with future plans for opening a donut and ice cream shop just down the block from the diner. We suggest you call to pre-order our cider donuts—they sell out as fast as we make them.”
Robert Bair Plumbing “We are grateful to our loyal customers who continue to trust us and our commitment to their safety.”
Silk Road Cleaners “We have the best family-owned and operated cleaners in town. We [have been] servicing the area over 25 years with confidence and happiness. We are [an] expert for all drycleaning services, alterations, leather and carpet cleaning, and wash and fold.” -Allyson Kim, owner
Spark Fitness “Spark Fitness has initiated safety protocols and prevention strategies by providing semiprivate personal training. Client training [is] by appointment, limiting the number of clients training in the facility at one time. Interventions have included increased distance between each client’s training space, providing adequate social distancing. Frequent intense-cleaning and sanitizing regimens are carried out multiple times a day. Spark Fitness clients focus on their training, which improves immunity, reduces depression and anxiety, and improves sleep.” -Ted Dres, owner, Spark Fitness
Sweet William “It is because of our experience these last six months that we now, more than ever, appreciate the importance of community and support that allowed and continues to allow Sweet William to cope with these difficult times. I have always known the relationships and connections we have with our customers are what we love most about Sweet William. I am so grateful for our customers and our Sweet William team, and we are doing our best to make everyone who enters our door feel comfortable and safe.” -Kristi Smith, owner, Sweet William
Taco Grill Taco Grill in Westmont stands out with a brightly-colored exterior, promising lots 34
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of great-tasting Mexican food inside. Jose and Ivonne Oliver started the business 20 years ago, and are still at the same location. He runs the restaurant, while she runs the books—although Jose said she also makes the best tamales. The Olivers have built a loyal clientele that come back again and again to enjoy their many varieties of tortas, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas and carne asada. All are made with lots of grilled pork and steak and fresh ingredients. “We even grow our peppers and tomatoes around the building," Jose Oliver said. ... “Once your dish is brought to your table, you walk up to our salsa bar, where you have a wide choice of 20 salsa flavors and several levels of ‘heat’ to suit to your taste. ... Perhaps one dish that truly wraps up a Taco Grill experience is the Torta Hawaiiana, made up of ham, roasted pork, al pastor meat, refried beans, avocado, tomato, onions, melted cheese and pineapple.” To accommodate diners these days, Taco Grill also offers curbside pick-up and delivery, late-night dining and catering.
Toni Patisserie & Cafe “When we decided to close the patisserie at the end of March, I think we did so with the common misconception that we would only be closed for two to three weeks, maybe four. Then everything would be back to normal. “What has since transpired has been among the most challenging and humbling experiences of our professional lives. We reopened to a world of canceled weddings, stay-at-home graduations and drive-by birthday parties. People were still celebrating their milestones, but doing so in a much more intimate way. We started selling individuallywrapped cupcakes instead of birthday cakes, boxed-lunches instead of sandwich platters and a host of other single-serve items that let our guests feel safe. “We also listened to our customers and broadened our food offerings. Baguette sandwiches, French-inspired salads, housemade soups and savory quiches all became as synonymous with our brand as white chocolate mousse cake and French macarons. The most humbling part of our story, though, is the support we have received from our community, which has been nothing short of a miracle. We have made our fair share of mistakes, yet people keep coming back, thanking us for being open, and providing a little slice of normalcy in their lives. “We do not know yet what the next three or six or 12 months will bring, and are long past trying to predict the future. We are thankful for everyone who has supported us, and we pray that we will be able to keep our doors open.” -Toni Marie Cox and Paul Pell, owners, Toni Patisserie & Cafe
Vie and Vistro Restaurants “First of all, I just want to say that I am so grateful to our guests and the community for supporting us during this time. From ordering takeout to sending nice messages of encouragement to celebrating special occasions with us, it means so much to me and the teams at Vie and Vistro. That support has allowed us to continue doing what we love and are passionate about, and we really are just so thankful. We wouldn’t be here without it. My teams at both Vie and Vistro have come together and given it their all, making it happen day after day, and I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do in the face of all these challenges. “As far as specifics, both restaurants were fortunate to add an outdoor dining area, something neither had before. Of course, outdoor dining has been crucial during COVID, and the villages deserve a big shoutout for all their help and support with that, for being so creative and proactive in making sure restaurants had that option.
Business Association) have been great through all this too. “Right now, like so many, we are balancing taking things day to day, while trying our best to anticipate and plan for what’s ahead. The support from the community, our guests and our friends keeps us going.” -Paul Virant, executive chef and owner, Vie and Vistro Restaurants
Weller Dental “We are very well-known for improving the smiles of our patients. Our ‘smile gallery’ of nearly 200 patients, showing before-and-after photographs, makes the point nicely. I am also very proud of our approach to comprehensive dental care. So, in addition to cosmetic dentistry, my staff and I are always available to provide complete preventive, restorative, appliance and implant dentistry.” -Dr. Jeffrey Weller, owner, Weller Dental
Zazu Salon & Day Spa
“At both Vie and Vistro, we increased our to-go/dine-at-home offerings early on, including adding online ordering, and we have supplemented our main menus at times with special family meals, meal-kits and the like. For those joining us for dine-in, our staff work really hard to provide the highest level of friendly, professional service, while incorporating the new dining guidelines in order to keep themselves and all our guests as safe as possible. We welcome guests to Vie and Vistro as we would welcome them to our own home, and that hospitality and care is more important than ever, I think.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions to make your appointment as healthy and safe as possible. As always, we are proud of our professionalism, from the time a client calls and makes an appointment with a guest coordinator, or texts using our easy app, or books online, to the time they are checked in, to the appointment itself, to the time they select from our line of products, to tips for hair care afterward. We want our clients to feel they are always in the best of hands for hair-care. We greatly appreciate the loyalty of our clients during this difficult period.”
“At Vistro, we’re excited to now offer weekend brunch—something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Now seemed like a perfect opportunity to get that off the ground, since adapting and adjusting has become the new norm.
-Segretto family, owners, Zazu Salon & Day Spa
“At Vie, we modified our menu a bit early on to have some more comfort-foodtype options, including a lineup of some really great sandwiches. Now our guests can choose between a more casual meal, or still have that elevated dining experience with more involved dishes.
Home & Lifestyle FURNITURE/DECOR Linly Designs, Clarendon Hills Darvin Furniture, Orland Park Walter E. Smithe, Oak Brook FLOORING DeSitter Flooring, La Grange Georgia Carpets, Westmont Yonan Carpet One, Downers Grove HOME IMPROVEMENT/CONTRACTOR Closets by Design, Addison Normandy Remodeling, Hinsdale Synergy Builders, West Chicago Drury Design, Glen Ellyn HOME REPAIR SERVICES Fuller's Home & Hardware, Hinsdale Robert Bair Plumbing, Downers Grove FLORIST/LANDSCAPER Jane’s Blue Iris, Hinsdale Phillip’s Flowers & Gifts, Hinsdale The English Garden, Clarendon Hills Jane Dilworth Landscaping, Downers Grove GROCERS Kramer Foods, Hinsdale Pete’s Fresh Market, Willowbrook Standard Market, Westmont DRY CLEANERS CD One Price Cleaners, Downers Grove Gateway Cleaners, Hinsdale Silk Road Cleaners, Hinsdale FINANCIAL INSTITUTION BMO Harris Bank, Hinsdale Chase Bank, Hinsdale Hinsdale Bank & Trust, Hinsdale FINANCIAL PLANNER Barrett Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Hinsdale Wealth Planning Network, Oakbrook Terrace Ameriprise, HOSPITAL/HEALTH CARE PROVIDER AMITA Health, Hinsdale DuPage Medical Group, Hinsdale Edward-Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst Loyola Medicine, Burr Ridge
“We have seen our Midwest farmer friends working even harder and doing their own pivots, while continuing to provide us with beautiful local, seasonal produce, the cornerstone of our restaurants. At Vie, we’ve been happy to serve as a CSA (community supported agriculture) pick-up during COVID for our friends at Mick Klüg Farm, which really drives home the ‘know your farmer’ aspect of our food.
GENERAL DENTISTRY/ COSMETIC DENTISTRY Hinsdale Dentistry, Hinsdale Thomas Orthodontics, Hinsdale Weller Dental, Hinsdale
“I’ve appreciated the chance to connect with other restaurant and business owners around Hinsdale and Western Springs, to talk about what’s working, what’s not, where we’re going. The Hinsdale Chamber [of Commerce] and WSBA (Western Springs
AUTO SALES & SERVICE Bettenhausen Auto, Tinley Park Continental AutoSports, Hinsdale Fuller’s Service Center, Hinsdale Mercedes-Benz, Westmont
MEDICAL SPECIALISTS Hinsdale Orthopaedics-Dr. Patel, Hinsdale Hinsdale Orthopaedics-Dr. Daley, Hinsdale Steil Dermatology, Hinsdale
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Hinsdale Magazine's 2020 “BEST of Reader Favoritesˮ!