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Jarvis Square alive with new energy, new businesses

In the span of 12 months, 10 new businesses have or will open in Jarvis Square, the area in Rogers Park where Greenview and Jarvis intersect.  Energetic people with good ideas and the determination to realize the tremendous potential of this neighborhood are the force behind much of this revitalization. Local resident and property manager/owner Dan Sullivan can be counted among them.

Dansullivan_1 Born in Chicago, Dan’s roots go way back in Rogers Park – his great-grandfather built the building on the northwest corner of Jarvis and Greenview, a building that Dan owns and manages today with his company called LAMS Real Estate Management. His fondest memories from childhood involved visiting his grandmother and swimming at the beach at the end of the street. After years of living overseas, Dan and his wife Lauri decided to return to Chicago for a “test run” at living in the neighborhood. Fourteen years after purchasing their home, they know they’re here to stay.

After years of listening to family and friends talk about Rogers Park’s untapped potential, Dan took matters into his own hands. Long a believer in the neighborhood’s strengths of solid transportation, great people, solid housing stock and access to Lake Michigan, he left his career in brand management and marketing and became a property owner and manager. 

He brought with him a clear vision of what could be accomplished if the right buildings were controlled, managed properly and the right business mix (or “repertoire,” as Dan calls it) created. Early on, a major portion of Dan’s job description involved cleaning the corner of his building and dispersing people who were loitering throughout the day. The Alderman’s office helped monitor across the street, and after months of being a consistent presence, loitering is no longer a top issue in the area.

Sue Murphy, co-owner of the new Irish pub Poitin Stil (pooh-cheen still) located at 1502 W. Jarvis, says she leaves work at 3 a.m. some mornings and feels completely safe. She and co-owner Ted Reis, knew they wanted to open an Irish pub as soon as they saw the former Charmers Bar. “It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” said Sue. “There was a clear need in the market for a pub and working with Dan made the process as easy as it could be. The neighborhood has embraced us – it’s even better than we imagined it would be.”

The pub features live music on Friday and Saturday nights and on Thursdays local resident Mike All hosts a comedy open mike night. On Dec. 3, Poitin Stil was the kick-off site for a Red Line El pub crawl, featuring a different bar or pub at each stop on the Red Line from Jarvis to Sheridan.

And where did the Poitin Stil name come from? “It’s Irish for “moonshine,” says Ted, as he pulls down an old black and white photograph from the wall. Who’s in the photo? Sue Murphy as a wee one (maybe 4 years old) watching as her father and grandfather make “poitin”on their “stil” behind their stone cottage in Galway, Ireland.

The same warm neighborhood sentiments are echoed by Susie Ryerson, a Rogers Park resident and owner of Rogers Bark, a pet grooming salon and retail store. Located at 1447 W. Jarvis, Susie opened in the beginning of November and was already booked up her first week.

Jarvissquare “I had people come into my store before I opened to welcome me to the neighborhood and wish me good luck,” Susie says. “It’s such a testament to the people of this community that they just love supporting new businesses. Even people who don’t have pets stuck their head in the door to congratulate me.” Susie credits  LAMS Real Estate for being a pioneer in the neighborhood. “I love this area. I’m so glad I opened here and I’m excited to see all the other businesses opening up around me. The area has experienced a 180 degree turn from where it was just a couple of years ago.”

Two other Rogers Park residents, Lori Alderete and Phaedra Divras, couldn’t agree more that the area has a new potential and energy, and they’ll be adding to it with their new authentic wood-fired pizza restaurant, Gruppo Di Amici (located in the old Jarvis Liquors store). They’ve hired a pizza maker from Naples who grew up in the pizza-making industry. Their initial menu will consist of fresh pizzas, appetizers and salads and a full bar will offer wines, beers, after-dinner drinks, coffee, espresso and more. 

The focal point will be the pizza-making experience -- the wood-fired oven will be in the main seating area so patrons can see their pizza fired. If the business grows, they plan on adding fresh pastas, paninis and calzones in the future. After four years in Rogers Park and seeing many positive changes, they knew the time was right to open their business. The owners say the statistics provided at the recent DevCorp North presentation on small business opportunities put what they knew intuitively into real numbers: Rogers Park offers small business owners a great opportunity.

LAMS Real Estate was one of several property owners/managers who spoke at the presentation and the rest is history. “We met Dan at the presentation and he’s been great to work with,” says Lori. “He has integrity, is committed to the neighborhood and is ethical. He’s been more than willing to work with us on our plan, even to the point where he’s almost become an investor in our business. DevCorp North has been incredibly helpful and supportive, especially with our façade rebate application.”

New to the space, but not new to the area is the side project Theatre, a small independent theater company that is already racking up rave reviews for high quality, innovative theater. They are moving into one of  LAMS’s storefronts (the former Big Star Cafe/Don’s Coffeehouse space) to have more space for their patrons and actors. The new theater will have a small waiting area/lounge with space to sell refreshments and the actors will have their own private kitchen and bathroom.

In an era when most theaters are struggling to keep their doors open, the expansion of the side project is a testament to their dedication and fine reputation. “We feel that the move gives us the best of both possible worlds: retaining what makes our art unique, while also giving the patrons and actors more off-stage room, and therefore comfort. The lobby area will also allow us to fulfill another one of missions set five years ago - to display and potentially sell local artists' work," Adam Webster said. The side project’s current play, Crave, has received more rave reviews and the run has been extended through December 18th. Their next play, Thief River, begins Jan. 5 and runs through Jan. 29.

This past spring Liz Ellis and Suzen Cook opened Lumbar Lounge, a massage studio and spa at 1505 W. Jarvis. A loyal clientele followed them from previous studios and they have built a new thriving practice in Rogers Park with much support from the community. Liz and Suzen specialize in several types of massage, such as Swedish, deep tissue, pregnancy and hot stone. Spa treatments range from herbal wraps to body polishes. Spa packages and gift certificates are available. 

Julie Marcus escaped the corporate rat race when she opened Under the Table Books, a used bookstore at 1443 W. Jarvis Street, this past summer. Named for her favorite place to read books as a child, Julie is especially excited about the potential for business cross-over and symbiosis, given the many new stores opening. Julie offers a wide range of books and literature, including mystery, biography, fiction, nonfiction, narrative and a sizable children’s section.

Luzzat Restaurant on Jarvis was opened late this summer by Mike ‘Rafi’ Mohammed , who also owns the convenience store just east of the restaurant. The Luzzat menu features biriyani, kabobs, fresh soups, breads and curries and incorporates Middle Eastern cuisine as well. Mike chose to open his restaurant in Rogers Park because despite the large concentration of Indian-Pakistani restaurants on Devon Avenue, there aren’t any in the neighborhood.

Look for two new eateries this spring: The Dagel and Beli Shop (a deli/sandwich shop specializing in bagels and spoonerisms) and Charmers Café, a coffeehouse that will feature Metropolis coffee. After months of looking for someone to open these two types of businesses, Dan Sullivan decided to open them himself!  Two more local Rogers Park residents will run these businesses – both went to school a few miles north at Northwestern University and one also studied to become a chef at Kendall College.   

Littlegreencube and Dent Interactive add the tech dimension to the new business additions. Littlegreencube, owned by Jared Saunders, offers high-quality graphic design, e-commerce and web development for small businesses.  Dent Interactive, co-owned by Jared and Derek Nicolai, is a Flash development studio that typically works with national advertising agencies working with global brands such as Mercedes, Kellogg and Dell.

Jared and Derek left their “fancy downtown careers” to start their own business working on projects with clients that have a meaningful impact and long-term positive results. They love making their clients look good. When asked about the neighborhood, Derek replied, “Rogers Park has been a great place to grow our business. We love all the new businesses that have been coming in and we’re enjoying getting to know the other owners.”

Last but not least, CDW Grocery, specializing in quality name-brand groceries will open soon in the space between the pub and the Italian restaurant.  Norvelle Smith, who used to be a member of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, is eager to open his doors – “as soon as the new doors are installed,” he laughed.  His storefront is one of several that are involved in the City of Chicago Façade Rebate Program, and it will have brand new windows and doors before he opens.  He spent several weeks watching the street before he decided that Jarvis Square offered a huge opportunity to open his new place.  Of course, everyone is happy to have a former police officer here all day to keep his eye on things.

For Dan Sullivan, the rebirth of Jarvis Square brings his family’s history full circle. His children are the fifth generation to play on the beaches of Rogers Park. His mother, Celeste Sullivan, will be able to drink coffee in Charmers Café, which was the site of his parents’ meeting and courtship in the 1950s.  His aunt, Pat Shaw, can drink a Guiness in the space she used to live above as a kid, listening to the music and conversation below.  His uncle, Ed Kahn, can have dinner in the space where his father started Jarvis Liquors 55 years ago.  His grandmother, Celeste Shaw, and great-grandfather, James McManus would be proud to know that their legacy lives on in the community they loved so much.

Dent Interactive, 7363 N. Greenview, 773-973-DENT, M-F 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., www.dentinteractive.com
Littlegreencube, 7363 N. Greenview, 773-743-CUBE, M-F 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., www.littlegreencube.com
Lumbar Lounge, 1445 W. Jarvis, 773-381-1445, lizellis1528@earthlink.net
Luzzat Restaurant, 1505 W. Jarvis, 773-764-1065, 11 a. m. to 9:30 p.m. every day
Poitin Stil, 1502 W. Jarvis, 773-338-3285, open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Rogers Bark, 1447 W. Jarvis, 773-274-BARK, open Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p m., Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sundays, www.rogersbark.com
the side project, 1520 W. Jarvis (soon to be moved), 773-973-2150, www.thesideproject.net
Under the Table Books, 1443 W. Jarvis, 773-743-3728, underthetablebks@rcn.com, open Wednesday-Sunday, 1-8 p.m.

CDW Grocery, 1506 W Jarvis, (open this spring, or sooner!)
Charmers Café, 1500 W Jarvis, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (open this spring)
The  Dagel and Beli Shop, 7406 N Greenview, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (open this spring)
Gruppo Di Amici, 1508 W Jarvis, open Friday and Saturday from 5-11 p.m., Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 5-10 p.m., closed Mondays (open this spring)
the side project, 1441 W. Jarvis (new), 773-973-2150, www.thesideproject.net   

December 16, 2005 in Rogers Park Developments | Permalink


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