This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Bill Lowe, CEO and President of Chicago Methodist Senior Services (CMSS). At CMSS you’ll find an inviting community ready to support you in all the ways you need. They offer older adults a full range of services and residential options provided by expert staff who take an innovative, person-centered approach to care. With their life-enriching programs, a network of support that caters to you as a person, and a staff of caregivers that feel like family, you’ll know you’re in the right place at 1415 W Foster.
Bill Lowe recording Episode 56 of #AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast
“As a 120 year old organization, I always say I’m managing to the 200th year. I won’t see it, but I think that’s the way we ought to think about an organization.”
– Bill Lowe
Listen to Episode 56!
Here are some references from this episode you may want to check out:
- Bill is coming up on celebrating his 30th work anniversary at CMSS this year. He is also a lifelong Chicagoan and Cubs fan.
- CMSS flagship Wesley Place was opened in 1896 by Mrs. E.E Hartwell, the Methodist home was established in 1898 on Foster and Glenwood. Their other locations include Hartwell Place, which is a renovation of the old St. Gregory’s convent at Paulina and Gregory. They also have a low income housing facility for seniors; The Winwood Apartment and the Glenwood Apartments.
- As CEO, Bill very rarely has regular days. He speaks to new hires at their orientation once a month to set the tone. Because of his accounting background he also prepares and presents the budget, goes over financial statements, and maintains leadership practices.
The CMSS Garden (photo by CMSS)
- Wesley Place has 24/7 care including Nurses and CNAs, dietitians, housekeepers, people in charge of laundry, event planners that have consistent activities, financial experts, marketers, and more. CMSS has a lot of opportunity. This is also the case for young people – there are several entry level positions, usually filled by high schoolers, that can help young people find a specialty before entering college if they’re not sure what they want to do. View employment opportunities here.
- CMSS also holds a variety of events for all ages. There’s story time for kids, musical performances, and lectures covering topics like memory care. The goal with these activities is the bring the world in to people that have trouble getting out, providing them with some relief from isolation or their cabin fever.
Outside of the Covenant Home (photo taken by CMSS)
- One program that has been started recently is the Sounds of Healing. CMSS is partnered with Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Music Institute of Chicago, Old Town School of Folk Music and more to make this program a reality. Music can touch people’s hearts like nothing else; if someone is having issues with isolation, depression, or they just aren’t coming out of their shell, the CMSS staff will try music therapy. The early returns on this program are really good. Read more about their music therapy efforts here.
- To make sounds of healing work, CMSS has partnered with longstanding but small musical organizations. One of these partnerships is with Nashville-based Nonprofit, Musicians On Call. They operate out of 17 different American cities, and recently moved to Chicago and have partnered with three different agencies in the city: the Shirley Ryan Abilitylab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), the Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital, and CMSS.
Musicians playing at CMSS (photo taken by CMSS)
- Every Tuesday evening, just after dinner, a strolling musician goes to play for short-term patients. Normally, short-term patients are isolated and think of the community as a hospital. It’s lonely; they often don’t think they want to socialize until they do. The music improves their well being.
- CMSS Wesley Place also has a living room space on their second floor. It has wide windows, a balcony, and excellent acoustics. It’s ideal for musical performances.
- The residents of Wesley Place also participate in Andersonville’s annual Arts Week. There are several musicians, writers, and other artisans in CMSS. One man teaches piano lessons; a lady that lives in the Covenant Home is a songwriter, she writes comical songs about her Parkinson’s disease. The talent and creativity of these seniors gives them a vehicle for creative expression.
CMSS residents visit the Andersonville Farmers Market (photo taken by CMSS
- Another interesting recent addition to CMSS partnership roster is virtual reality specialists Embodied Labs. Embodied Labs provides simulations that put caretakers in the shoes of their patients. Bill says this has been extremely effective.
- Another strong partnership they have is with White Crane Adult Day Programming, a senior daycare center that provides the seniors with activities and opportunities to socialize.
- CMSS is hosting a Benefit Brunch at Saddle and Cycle (900 W Foster Ave) on Saturday April 27 from 11AM – 2PM; all proceeds will be in support of the Sounds of Healing program, with the goal of fully implementing music therapy into CMSS’s care regimen.
- If Bill could swap with any Andersonville business for a day, he would choose any one of our lovely antique stores, listed below:
Visit Chicago Methodist Senior Services on the following platforms:
This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Chef Keith Kreuser of Dollop Diner. Dollop features locally sourced, classic American fare, roasted coffee and espresso drinks as well as cocktails and beer. For homemade donuts and more, a little dollop will do ya in Andersonville at 5060 N. Clark.
Chef Keith recording the podcast at Studio C in Transistor
“Do as much research as you possibly can. Staging with other successful restaurateurs, getting into the kitchen or front of house is something that a lot of successful people do.”
– Chef Keith Kreuser
Listen to Episode 55!
Here are some references from episode 55 you may want to check out:
- Growing up in Evanston, Chef Keith frequently visited north side neighborhoods, including Andersonville. He also fell in love with food and music, which he has dabbled with throughout his life. As he grew older he started working at Chicago restaurants as a manager and a chef.
- Along the way he met Dan Weiss. They met at a recording studio and worked on and off recording music together for several years. About 20 years after their meeting, they were developing an idea for a restaurant they could work on together; Dollop Diner is a combination of Weiss’s coffee expertise and Chef Keith’s love for food.
Dollop Diner’s overnight oats – comes with fresh fruit!
- They moved into Andersonville because Weiss believed it was the best deal and the best location (the corner of Clark and Carmen is quite lovely if you haven’t been). So, Dollop Diner opened in Andersonville in 2017. Keith and his staff are proud to be a part of Andersonville’s growing south end.
- Opening the diner was a process. Chef Keith had several different food concepts – they settled on American, obviously – and envisioned table service because of the small size of the space. When the diner first opened, they had counter service; however, with some helpful community feedback they decided to switch over to table service a few months after opening.
Dollop Diner Donuts
- In the past few years the Dollop menu has evolved and expanded a great deal. Everything on the menu is locally sourced, so it is all prepared fresh. With limited storage space offering more options was difficult but Chef Keith has managed to make it work by offering favorites like the Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy, and a variety of donuts. He is also hoping to expand dinner options (right now there are only two – seared salmon and steak frites) and add a few more handmade cocktails to the menu.
- Currently, the Diner’s cocktail menu consists of a seasonal draft Manhattan, Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas for brunch, and a Sideways Elevator-a mix of cold brew concentrate, Vergnano Amaro, and a sweet vermouth.
- Recently Dollop released their first espresso roast: Dream Team Espresso! A mix of Guatemalan and Colombian coffee beans, “Dream Team offers a balanced melody of toasted almond, Braeburn apple, and caramel flavors.” The community has responded to their new beans positively; people are excited to see what they come up with next!
- If you have ever been to the Dollop Diner, you’ll know that the eclectic combination of the light wooden furniture, patterned cement tiling, and menu graphics provides a distinct, Art Deco feel throughout the space. All of the furniture (chairs, barstools, etc.) come from local companies! (Graphics by Kevne Briet; building and physical design by Paul Isen)
The Interior of Dollop Diner
- You may also know that Dollop often features humorous little chalkboard doodles. This job has been passed from one staff member to another – usually the person with a steady hand, quality penmanship, and good sense of humor. The current chalkboard artist is barista Gabby Thom. Stop by and see her creations today!
Dollop’s winter specials during January 2019.
- Because he is raising his family in Evanston, Keith loves working in Andersonville. It is close by so he can bring his family into the restaurant, but he can also be at work right away in case something goes wrong.
- Chef Keith also has a rich musical past. He formed a hip hop group that toured extensively. It is through this experience that he realized he did not like touring, but music is still a part of his life; he has a recording studio in his basement and records with Dan sometimes.
- If he could give any advice to young entrepreneurs, he would recommend doing research before starting your venture. Connecting with people that have had success in your field can lead to new ideas and great connections. He also recommends trusting your senses – listening to your gut can save you trouble in the long run.
- If Chef Keith could swap with any Andersonville business for a day, he would choose Bar Roma (5101 N Clark). He loves cooking Italian food and wholeheartedly enjoys the welcoming, homey feeling their team has cultivated.
Visit Dollop Diner on the following platforms:
Today we are joined by Celia Bucci, Board Certified massage therapist and owner of Prevent Chronic Pain. Massage therapy can reduce symptoms, improve daily activity, and help prevent aches, pains and stress from becoming chronic. Celia provides massage therapy for relaxation, stress relief, and rehab following injury, surgery and more at 5115 N. Ravenswood.
Celia Bucci (right) recording the podcast with Sara (left)
“I think people get into the field often in the same way that I did–they want a change in the culture in their work environment, they want independence, they want more freedom in their work.” – Celia Bucci
Listen to Episode 54!
Here are some references from Episode 54 that you may want to check out:
- Celia has lived in Chicago for the majority of her life, but discovered a completely different way of life when visiting the Caribbean. Life there is much slower than it is here, especially compared to her previous job, which was in the arts. People talk to each other more and don’t tend towards a hectic schedule.
- So, when Celia returned she started looking for a career change that would slow the pace of her life. She chose to become a massage therapist and signed up for the class that would start the soonest and fit with her current work schedule the best. This move that almost seemed like divine intervention, as she ended up in a Clinical course that taught her how to reason and most effectively treat her patients.
Prevent Chronic Pain at the Andersonville Service Business Fair in 2019
- After earning her certification, she worked in several different places. However, clinical reasoning takes a lot of time, conversation with, and dedication to a patient. Not being able to find this at any of her previous jobs, Celia decided to start her own business
- For anyone that has never received a massage before, Celia recommends double checking people’s certifications on Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website. This indicates that they are a properly trained professional that has passed a licensure exam and will be able to tell if massage will be beneficial for you.
- Celia’s business is mainly referral-based. She does not get a lot of appointments from her website, but that is okay because she prefers discussing pain issues with prospective patients over the phone before she has anybody come in. If they do come in for, say, chronic headaches, Celia will ask for their medical records and have them fill out a questionnaire about their medical history.
- If they decide massage is a good treatment for chronic headache or other ailments, they make an appointment. Celia describes what she is going to do and how that will result in alleviation of the pain. When massaging a patient, she has the person tell her when their pain gets to a 5 on a scale of 1-10. Once the pain hits about a five the nervous system starts to engage and she’s fighting the patient instead of helping them.
Celia as the Spotlight Speaker for Third Thursday in October 2018
- Post-massage she asks how they are feeling and they work on a plan for long-term treatment if necessary.
- Although we live in a very touch-averse culture, Ceilia—along with several researchers—believes that touch can vastly improve day-to-day living for a variety of conditions, including pain relief for cancer patients.
- Most people carry stress in their neck and shoulders; however, recently she has had an uptick in appointments concerning pain in the hips, knees, and ankles. Celia believes this is due to difference in winter gait.
- Celia does not have a favorite muscle group, she just enjoys the challenge of someone coming to her with a problem and being able to solve it with them.
- Here’s a free self-care tip from Celia: simple intervention now can prevent a larger problem later. Stretching, doing easy yoga, and taking care of smaller pains early can decrease the risk of chronic pain.
- Though Celia is a small business owner along with being a health care practitioner, she doesn’t really think about her work in that way. She is just excited to help people solve their problems with her knowledge and abilities. She added a website because word of mouth now involves checking of credentials online, but she has met a lot of people in the Andersonville area that have referred people to her business and businesses to refer others to if she is unable to help.
Celia as the Spotlight Speaker for Third Thursday in October 2018
- People often get into the field because they crave a change in workplace culture and overall environment like Celia did. Another reason may be is that people have had injuries themselves and massage therapy helped them and they want to give it to others as well.
- Celia was formerly a coordinator for a massage therapy school. She had created a class at the school to help people develop the clinical reasoning skills that have been so helpful to her practice. She met with a sales rep for the publishing company to discuss textbooks and was asked if she thought there were things missing from the literature—Celia thought so. So, she wrote a book titled Condition-Specific Massage Therapy.
- If Celia could swap with any Andersonville business for a day she would swap with a farmer at the Andersonville Farmers Market or Women and Children First (5233 N Clark).
Thank you Celia for joining us today and thank you for listening to AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast. For more information about Celia please visit preventchronicpain.com. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.
Visit Prevent Chronic Pain on the following platforms:
LinkedIn: Celia Bucci
This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Raven Theatre’s Artistic Director, Cody Estle and YEN actor Reed Lancaster. Raven Theatre tells stories of today and the past that connect us to our cultural landscape. Its commitment to modern drama in all of its forms, as well as its first-class educational programming, have helped it remain a cultural cornerstone on the north side of Chicago for 35 years and counting. You can find Raven at 6157 N. Clark.
Reed Lancaster (left) and Cody Estle met with Joelle and Laura to record the podcast at Transistor
“There are many writers out there today who are the next Tennessee Williams. . . I think making sure that we continue to produce revivals of well known plays as well as exploring new works is my priority.” – Cody Estle
Listen to Episode 53 with Cody and Reed!
Here are some references from Episode 53 that you may want to check out:
- Cody Estle is Raven Theatre’s current Artistic Director. His first theatre experience was when he played Ichabod Crane in his 5th grade production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. From then on, Cody knew that he wanted to have a career in theatre. He went to Columbia College to become a director and right out of school he was hired by Raven to direct. He was also an assistant director at some other theatres in town.
- Reed Lancaster comes from a theatre family living in a theatre city. The first time he came across theatre was in his sophomore year at LaGuardia High School in New York City. He never expected to care about theatre, but after he auditioned for his first show he started to care and enjoyed seeing his friends succeed as well. After graduation he attended Northwestern University, met Cody through a program he was teaching at, was called in to audition for YEN, and is starting his professional career at Raven.
- The Raven Theatre space was a grocery store until 2002. It may seem odd, but this space has worked well for the Raven team. The space is substantial and open, and the beams are still there – it was a shell that has been transformed. Inside the former supermarket, there are two stages: the eastern stage seats ninety-nine guests, the western seats fifty-seven. The biggishness of the building also allows for the Raven offices to remain on-site (right above the costume shop, actually)
(left to right) Netta Walker and Reed Lancaster in Raven Theatre’s Chicago premiere of YEN. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
- Raven is a theatre of revivals, meaning they take classic scripts and give new life to the old words. This is still an important mission for Cody, but he is working to find space for old and new playwrights underneath Raven’s roof.
- YEN, by Anna Jordan, is one of the new shows that Cody has brought to Chicago after seeing it in New York where one of his former students was performing. The story is about two young brothers at the ages of sixteen and thirteen never having been truly exposed to love, and what happens when something – or someone – comes in and disrupts that. To read about the show and the cast, visit the YEN page on Raven’s website.
- Reed plays the older brother, Hench. YEN takes place in London, so they are doing the show in the Modern London English dialect – MLE for short. MLE is a dialect spoken by young, working-class people, most commonly in neighborhoods with a variety of ethnic and multicultural backgrounds. According to Reed – who actually lived in West Hampstead from ages one to ten – it is a very difficult accent to replicate; the cast has worked with a dialect coach to get it right. Learn more about MLE here.
- YEN has been in production for almost a year – Reed was cast as Hench in May of 2018; production meetings to decide things like the lighting, the costumes, the dialect, and the set, started in December; and rehearsal starts about five weeks before the show premieres.
Tennessee Williams and William Inge in The Gentleman Caller
- Cody’s favorite production of all-time is one of his own shows: The Gentleman Caller (pictured above), the story of Tennessee Williams and William Inge’s meeting before they both rose to fame. Concepted by himself and his friend Philip Dawkins, they worked on this show for about two and a half years before bringing it to the Raven stage. It ended up being the second highest selling show in Raven Theatre history. A great deal of effort went into it, but it was extremely rewarding and successful altogether.
- Aside from the opportunity to successfully translate Hench, an extremely emotionally turbulent character without the means to express his emotions constructively, to the audience, Reed’s favorite production is South Pacific. He saw the show in high school, and respected that Rodgers and Hammerstein could discuss such deep and real issues in a musical.
- Outside of their main stage shows, Raven hosts educational courses for kids through school and community partnerships as well as summer camps. Camps start as soon as the season ends – tech camp kicks off the summer with kids learning to build an effective set that stays up all season. They also perform in shows they write themselves with the help of volunteers. Many of the kids go on to participate in shows at Raven or in the Chicago theatre community.
- Reed’s advice for young actors is twofold: find a way to focus on telling a story, and find a way to be a greater collaborator rather than focusing on your own performance. He learned more about active storytelling as opposed to acting technique at Northwestern, and it has served him well.
Reed Lancaster in YEN. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
- Raven is a proponent of the Year of Chicago Theatre, and would love it if every single member of Andersonville, Edgewater, and other surrounding neighborhoods were to come to their theatre to see a show. Even if you can’t make it to Raven, attend another show somewhere else. There are lists on the Andersonville Chamber and 48th Ward sites.
- Don’t worry if you can’t make it this season, Raven just announced their 2019-2020 season! Click here to check it out.
- If this week’s guests could swap with any Andersonville business for a day Reed would choose the Middle East Bakery & Grocery (1512 W Foster Ave) for their lovely grocery store and heavenly food, and Cody would swap with FOURSIDED (5061 N Clark S) because it’s his favorite store in the whole city and framing things for a living seems like a pretty awesome job.
Visit Raven Theatre on the following platforms:
Today we are joined by Rabbi Levi Notik of Chabad Uptown. Guided by the idea that there should be a place whose doors are open to persons of all backgrounds and affiliations, Chabad employs an open approach to Jewish community life. There is no membership, allowing participants to partake in whatever programs and services suit their individual or family needs. Offers educational and social events for Jewish families and young professionals in the Uptown neighborhood, you can find them at 1109 W. Lawrence Avenue.
Rabbi Notik met with Joelle and Laura at Transistor
“I grew up in a long line of Rabbis… and all I ever wanted to do was be a Rabbi. We have dedicated our lives to helping others in any way we possibly can.” – Rabbi Notik
Listen to Episode 52!
Here are some references from Episode 52 that you may want to check out:
- Rabbi Levi Notik is one in a large rabbinic family line going back several generations. All he ever wanted to was be a rabbi, to dedicate his life to helping others in any way he possibly can.
- There was a need for the Jewish community in and around Uptown to have a place to come celebrate and experience Jewish life and culture. Rabbi Notik turned to his friend Alex Milovich, who agreed to share his resources, space, and time with the Chabad.
- The Chabad opened on Lawrence Ave three years ago. The focus since its opening have been serving their ever-growing community with an emphasis on adult education and holiday celebrations. Much of the education is done in one-on-one sessions, where Rabbi Notik spreads what he calls “timeless wisdom for modern living.”
The 2018 Purim Celebration
- Many of the programs at the Chabad of Uptown are centered around celebration of Jewish life—like the Andersonville Hanukkah pop-up—and education through classes, lectures, and services. They also design their events so people of all ages have something to do or a way to participate, children through seniors.
- The Chabad also hosts a Thursday night seminar on Jewish topics and how they apply to the modern day. Topics covered include: positive thinking, happiness, and how we view dreams.
- While on the job, Rabbi Notik meets a variety of interesting people. He enjoys this very much, and often meets with them to share knowledge and wisdom from the Torah.
“We look to the Torah as a guide with messages and inspirations on how to maximize on our life in today’s day and age”
The Chabad of Uptown is not a membership organization—anyone is welcome to come to enjoy, learn about the Jewish faith, and grow personally and in their relationships. Rabbi Notik welcomes people to call or message the Chabad at any time, he meets people frequently and enjoys discussing his faith with others. He also often wants to leave people with a desire to learn more about happiness and meaning and the roles that those play in our lives.
- When he is not working, Rabbi Notik enjoys chess and reading. He also has nine kids!
- Want to get involved? Chabad Uptown is hosting a Grand Purim Party on Wednesday, March 20. The theme is black and white masquerade and there will be hor d’oeuvres, soup, toasts, and a special performance. They will be reading the scroll of the book of Esther (the Migillah) and sharing gifts with the poor. To learn more about Purim, click here.
“Happiness is learned, meaning is learned; if there is one message it’s spend your time wisely and try to learn new things everyday.”
- If Rabbi Notik could swap with any Andersonville business for a day, he would be happy working at any one of the five coffee shops in the Andersonville neighborhood.
Visit Chabad of Uptown on the following platforms:
This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Olin Eargle otherwise known as Mr. Andersonville. Olin, an @properties real estate agent is ranked as one of Chicago’s top brokers citywide and is celebrating 10 years this year. According to one testimonial, “he is a hustler and a veritable real estate surgeon.” Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, contact Olin at olinsellschicago.com for all of your real estate needs.
Olin Sells Chicago at Midsommarfest 2018 – Olin is on the left
“If you find a property that is 80 percent what you love, 10 percent what you can change over time, and 10 percent what you can live with, that becomes your perfect property.”
Here are some references from Episode 51 that you may want to check out:
- Olin was born in South Carolina and lived in North Carolina from 8th grade to college graduation from Appalachian State. He holds a degree in Communications Advertising and a minor in theatrical arts. He moved to Chicago two weeks after graduation and now has been living here for almost fifteen years.
- When he first moved to the city, Olin worked for HARPO—Oprah’s production company—as the executive assistant to the director of media and public relations. Everything media-related went through his boss and he was there for support at all times.
- Because of his Carolina roots, he did have an accent. This is no longer thanks to his HARPO position. As someone taking direct calls and answering questions for clients he was asked to learn to speak more eloquently and pronounce things differently. He did, however, meet some amazing people and form some great relationships.
Olin Sells Chicago at Midsommarfest 2018
- Real Estate was a natural step after HARPO, as Olin had always had a passion for living spaces. As a kid he designed layouts with legos, he was a resident assistant in college, and his first job in college was as a leasing agent for an apartment complex. He had always enjoyed the work and was excited to get into it.
- Olin has worked as a real estate broker for 10 years, and currently works at @properties, a real estate agency spread throughout the Midwest. Olin has been doing this for quite a while, and has found that the best advice he can give to anybody is to ask all of the questions they have on their minds.
- Olin also suggests going through all of the steps of purchasing a house in the proper order: if you need a loan, contact your banker and make sure you have the money to make the purchase, then contact your broker. They will show you houses and help you find what you want where you want—this could be a week long process, or it could last three to four months. Your realtor will work with your mortgage lender, attorney, and inspector to make sure that everything runs smoothly. According to Olin, purchasing real estate is not as daunting as it turns out to be if you start at step one and go through each one in the correct way.
- However, it is also wise going into this process with the mindset that no property will be 100% perfect. So, Olin suggests the 80-10-10 rule: if you find a property that is 80% what you love, 10% what you can change over time, and 10% what you can live with, that would be an ideal situation.
- In order to ease the process Olin also has a master list of vendors he works with including attorneys, mortgage lenders, inspectors, interior designers, and others on a frequent basis.
- Another way to ease the homebuying process is to interview an agent before you agree to work with them. Asking questions like how long they have been in the business and how much they have sold in the past year could lend good insight into who they are and whether or not they have the motivation to help you find your dream home.
The Mr. Andersonville team
- Olin—a long-time resident of Andersonville—describes it as a charming corridor with a small-town feel.
- Olin also performs with The Cabaret Project as a form of artistic outlet. He and a few others started the band the Feathered Beaus in 2018 as a sort of cabaret and burlesque fusion. They have performed in Missouri, Wisconsin, and are travelling down to Mexico soon. Locally they’ve performed at the Drake Hotel, the former Green Dolphin, and in Mary’s Attic. They also do private shows.
- If he were not working in real estate, Olin would definitely want to perform on Broadway. His dream role is Mark in RENT.
- If Olin could swap with any Andersonville business for a day, he would choose either the Swedish American Museum (5211 N Clark)—Karin’s team is excellent and, seeing as he got married there, he would love to be part of someone else’s big day—or The Wooden Spoon (5047 N Clark) because he loves to cook and it would be a fun and interesting experience.
Learn more about Mr Andersonville on the following platforms:
Online: olinsellschicago.com or mrandersonville.com
Today we are joined by Ann-Louise Haak, Executive Director of First Slice Pie Cafe. First Slice is all about good food for good people and as a nonprofit organization provides high quality meals to people living on the margins of society. Proceeds from purchases at each of their three locations on the northside of Chicago and one in Evanston, go toward providing healthful, farm-to-table meals to Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. You can find First Slice here in Andersonville at 5357 N Ashland.
Sara, Andy, Ann-Louise, and Laura met at Transistor to record episode 50 of #AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast
“Haters gonna hate, burglars gonna steal, and dang it,
First Slice is gonna keep making pie and feeding folks who need to be fed”
Here are some references from Episode 50 that you may want to check out:
- Ann-Louise grew up on the East coast. She grew up with the Amish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania until she was ten, then her mom remarried and relocated to the suburbs of Washington DC. She originally came to the Midwest for college, and hasn’t left since – her twentieth anniversary of Midwest living is coming up this fall!
- Unbeknownst to many, Ann-Louise is actually an ordained member of the clergy as well as a Baptist minister. Though she can officiate weddings, she chose not to for a long time because she was unable to give the same blessings to all couples. She lead ceremonies without signing licenses for a while, but her mindset shifted when she was married to her partner a few summers ago. Though she is more willing to encourage the married lifestyle now, does make her couples do premarital counseling before their big day.
Believe it or not, First Slice has desserts that are not pie. Who knew?
- First Slice was started by Mary-Ellen Diaz, a classically trained French chef and mother of two. When she was on maternity leave for her second child, she realized how difficult it was for her, a professional chef, to get dinner on the table most nights. She came up with the idea of a meal subscription to help ease the dining difficulties of others. It launched in 2004 and is still available.
- How it works:
- You sign up for the subscription.
- A new menu is released every Friday.
- Subscribers pick three entrees, each menu has a set list of sides – and a pie of course – to accompany the meals.
- First Slice cooks, packages, and freezes the meals; you stop by your local cafe (5357 N Ashland if you’re in Andersonville) to pick up the food at your leisure.
- You are free to mix and match sides all week long; all you need to do is warm it up and dig in!
- Currently, there are an estimated 75 households participating in the subscription program.
- Another facet in First Slice’s mission came from Mary-Ellen’s experience volunteering at local soup kitchens. It was through this work that she realized two things: first, the meals they were serving at the kitchens, though helpful, were filled with starches, fats, and, while filling, had very little nutritional value. Second, her cooking skills were appreciated far more in the soup kitchens than at her place of work – people that don’t have access to good food regularly appreciate it far more than those that do not have to worry.
- When people hear “first slice,” they usually assume that the cafe’s award-winning pies are the inspiration for the name – this is not the case. First Slice is a name inspired by their mission: “…Our commitment [is] to give the first slice – the best cut – to folks who are hungry and in need rather than just giving them what’s leftover at the end of the day.”
- First Slice feeds about 700 people per week through partnerships with local nonprofits and patrons that come into the cafe. Food insecurity is a very immediate need; First Slice is working to lessen that need with good, quality food.
- One of the many perks of signing up for First Slice’s meal subscription service is that some of that money goes towards providing meals to the hungry. First Slice saves money when they cook in bulk. So, if they were to prep chicken parm for 100 subscribers for a particular week, it would be just as easy and just as expensive to make 150 portions. The extra meals 50 meals they are able to make for the same price go to the hungry.
- First Slice works with several local nonprofits for their outreach work:
- StreetWise: Likely First Slice’s biggest outreach partner, they provide a free, hot meal to all vendors during the week. Whenever they go to the office to participate in the program, meet with a social worker, or update their resume they know they’ll have something to eat.
- The Crib: A nighttime drop for street-based youth. First Slice provides warm dinners to kids staying there.
- Broadway Youth Center: A daytime drop in for street-based youth. First Slice brings lunches there.
- Common pantry: On Wednesday nights, Common Pantry opens their doors to people in the midst of food emergencies. The neighboring church, Epiphany United Church of Christ, also opens up its doors and serves First Slice food so people can bring their families to do their shopping and eat dinner together.
- Lakeview Presbyterian Church: First Slice works with Lakeview Presbyterian to provide lunches to low income or economically unstable senior citizens during the week.
The First Slice bake case featuring some long-time favorites: Traditional Apple and Polka Dot Pies
- Outside of the meal subscription service and their outreach, First Slice also serves incredible pies (obviously). The favorite is Traditional Apple – Food and Wine Magazine called it one of America’s best apple pies – but Michigan Sour Cherry is also a popular choice.
- Another outreach event First Slice participates in is Empty Bowls. This national fundraiser is happening on Friday March 8 from 5-8PM; it is a way to help battle hunger in the United States. Ceramic artists throw handmade bowls and donate them, First Slice makes a lot of soup, when guests arrive they get to choose their own bowl, and they eat soup to their heart’s content. When guests are ready to leave a volunteer helps wash out their chosen bowl and they get to keep it forever as a reminder of all the empty bowls they helped fill that night. Tickets are $25, more details are available here.
- Because Ann-Louise in the First Slice team are so involved in the community, they are always looking for extra hands to help out. If you’re interested, the volunteer form is on their website – they need people to serve at their multiple outreach outlets, help at Empty Bowls, work their stand at the Andersonville Farmers Market, and even help in critical administrative activities like marketing and IT.
First Slice mural at the Andersonville location
- Despite two recent burglaries of their Andersonville location, First Slice is still working hard and going strong. Though Ann-Louise wouldn’t recommend it as a team-building exercise, the staff pulled together to see the silver lining and the community rallied around them to support the team and their work.
- If Ann-Louise could swap with any Andersonville business for a day she would choose Women and Children First (5233 N Clark). She has loved the store since she moved to the city and working there was actually her first job after she graduated from college.
Thank you for joining us today and thank you for listening to Always Andersonville: the podcast. For more information about First Slice, please visit firstslice.org. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.
Visit First Slice on the following platforms:
This week Laura and Joelle are joined by Chef Fred Ramos and Julia Zhu of Bar Roma. Bar Roma specializes in house-made pastas, a variety of meatballs, and other Roman inspired dishes. They also feature a daily happy hour from 5-6:30PM which offers half-priced appetizers and meatballs. You can find this Zagat rated “Must Try” Italian restaurant at 5101 N Clark.
Chef Fred Ramos and Julia Zhu met with us at Bar Roma to tell us about how their partnership came to be and what it has been like working together these past three years
“I really feel like the success we have is because of the patrons in this neighborhood
and the broad base of diverse people.”
– Julia Zhu
Here are some references from Episode 49 that you may want to check out:
- Former commercial banker and Co-owner of Bar Roma, Julia Zhu opened the restaurant with business partner Howard Davis 3 years ago. Many have wondered why she, a Chinese woman, would want to open an Italian restaurant; there are several reasons that she and her partner decided to do so:
- First, Italian restaurants are recession-proof (as said by Mr. Davis after the 2008 recession).
- Second, people can eat Italian food two or three times a week – it just doesn’t get old!
- Third, noodles are key in dishes in several cultures. The earliest mention of noodles comes from the Han Dynasty in China; the pasta phenomenon is thought to have travelled back to Europe with Marco Polo after he visited China in the 13th century. Learn more about the history of pasta here.
- Chef Fred Ramos has been working in Chicago restaurants since he received his degree in International Culinary Arts from Kendall College in 2000. His resume includes work such as Maggiano’s Little Italy, Peli Peli, and Angelina Restaurante.
- Bar Roma has a diverse menu, and includes things like hand made pasta, wood grilled meats, and their most popular: the meatballs.There are five variations on the menu: beef, pork, veal sweetbread, chicken, and vegetarian.
Bar Roma’s beef meatball, available for half off when you come in from 5-6:30PM
- The handmade pasta – particularly the spaghetti – is definitely one of the more popular items on the menu; they get about 240 orders every week. Their other options include pappardelle (broad, flat ribbon noodles), black fettuccine squid ink, tortellini with seasonal filling (currently butternut squash), and potato gnocchi.
- Chef Ramos uses three different kinds of flour to make his pastas: semolina, durham, and double zero. They also use a lot of eggs.
- Undoubtedly, the most popular item on the menu is Spaghetti Pomodoro, an Italian classic that people know and love. Chef’s favorite dish to make and eat is either the pappardelle with braised oxtail ragu or the butternut squash tortellini. Julia’s favorite is Cacio e Pepe (pictured below), a simple pasta dish made with spaghetti noodles, pecorino cheese, and a dusting freshly cracked black pepper on top; her favorite meatball is the veal sweetbread.
Cacio e Pepe, one of Julia Zhu’s favorite Bar Roma meals, is a simple mix of spaghetti, cheese, and pepper.
- When Bar Roma was about to open three years ago, Julia wanted to make it feel like visiting was going over to a friend’s house. She really feels that the success she has is because of all of the different people that visit. She also said that she feels the Chamber of Commerce has been incredibly helpful and supportive of her work.
- Having previously worked in several downtown restaurants, the smaller neighborhood is a big change for Chef Ramos. He does enjoy Andersonville’s smaller neighborhood feel as this gives him an opportunity to get to know the customers that come in regularly.
- Bar Roma is one of twenty-two restaurants participating in Andersonville Restaurant Week, which ends on March 3rd. They are offering a $30, four course prie fixe menu consisting of winter veggie minestrone, cacio e pepe with the patron’s choice of meatball, chicken parmesan, and warm panettone bread pudding with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Panattone Bread Pudding is offered with Bar Roma’s four-course prie fixe menu during Andersonville Restaurant Week 2019 (2/22-3/3)
- Bar Roma also offers brunch on Sundays from 10:30 AM-2 PM. Mimosas accompanied by tiramisu french toast, eggs benedict with smoked salmon, or carbonara pasta with an egg and pancetta creme on that patio is an excellent way to wake up on a sleepy Sunday morning.
- When asked what advice Chef Ramos would provide culinary students, he suggests getting a job in a kitchen before attending culinary school – keep an eye on postings in the area here – as well as expecting to work as a cook before working as a chef. For young entrepreneurs Julia recommends being prepared for a challenge seven days a week, and building a proper foundation. Expanding too quickly can mean the demise of a business. Finally, they both recommend finding people you work well with – they key for the Bar Roma has been a the great team that Chef and Julia have assembled
- If they were to swap with another Andersonville business for a day, Julia would choose the Chicago Magic Lounge (5050 N Clark) because it’s fun and attracts a lot of people to the area; Chef Ramos would choose Anteprima (5316 N Clark),the other local Italian restaurant, or Hopleaf (5148 N Clark) because drinking beer all day sounds wonderful.
Thank you for joining us today and thank you for listening to Always Andersonville: the Podcast. For more information about Bar Roma, please visit barromachicago.com. Show notes on today’s episode can be found at andersonville.org.
Visit Bar Roma on the following platforms:
This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Martin Cournane of Munster Restaurant Group. Martin is the co-owner of Lady Gregory’s and Octavio Cantina and Kitchen in Andersonville, as well as LG’s Bar in Old Town and Wilde in Lakeview. Lady Gregory’s, an Irish Gastro Pub located at 5260 N. Clark, serves up a delicious menu and proudly boasts over 300 whiskeys. Located just up the street at 5310 N. Clark, Octavio is a love letter to Mexico and serves modern Mexican food from the heart.
Martin recording in Transistor’s Studio C.
“Dream big, don’t give up, and start with your heart”
– Martin Cournane
Listen to Episode 48 with Martin Cournane!
Here are some references from Episode 48 that you may want to check out:
- Martin hails from Ireland. Having traveled over in 1994, he was one in a late wave of immigrants travelling to America. He came to Chicago with a bag and some money, and slept on a friend’s couch for his first few months in the area.
- He started working in restaurants when he was sixteen years old and has done everything from dishwashing to bartending. Martin’s first Chicago job was Kitty O’ Sheas in the Palmer House Hilton; since then he has worked in a variety of hotels and Irish bars. He also worked as a General Manager at The Kerryman. In this position he made decisions about the menu, chose staff uniforms, and helped put the restaurant together. He learned a great deal about what makes a good restaurant; this was a huge stepping stone to open his own business.
- In 2006, Martin started Munster Restaurant Group (MRG) and their first location – Wilde Bar and Restaurant – opened the same year. His business partner worked in construction, and they worked together to create original designs for each restaurant they opened. While working on Wilde, Martin learned a great deal about working with the city and having a flexible timeline.
- Five years later, MRC opened up Lady Gregory’s in Andersonville. Being a constant patron and resident in Andersonville, Martin says that he was always hoping to open something up in the area. Becoming a part of the fabric of the neighborhood was an exciting experience.
The fire damage at Lady Gregory’s in 2011
- However, six weeks before they were supposed to open, there was a fire. This was a devastating shock; thankfully there was no structural damage. This did set them back a few weeks, and they opened on the Friday of Andersonville Midsommarfest in June 2011.
- Martin and MRG name their restaurants after authors, and Lady Gregory’s is no exception. Isabella Augusta (a.k.a. Lady Gregory) was an Irish theatre manager and playwright specialising in drama and folklore. She also produced several books retelling stories from Irish mythology in common terms. Martin compares her to a woman running a pub in old Ireland: tough, and not to be trifled with. Lady Gregory also inspired several other Irish writers like W.B. Yeats and James Joyce.
- MRG’s fourth and most recent restaurant, Octavio Cantina and Kitchen, is named after poet and activist Octavio Paz. In the back of the restaurant there is a portrait of him by local artist and LG’s bartender Cecilio Garcia. The map mural on the wall is by another local artist, Chris Silva.
- Octavio was a big step away from Martin’s usual repertoire – he had to learn to create an entirely different menu and a fresh, new atmosphere. The result is a beautiful, open concept restaurant with excellent natural light and a homey, welcoming feeling.
- Four restaurants later, Martin is still passionate about what he does. The advice that he wants to give to young entrepreneurs is to start with your heart – ask yourself what you love, and work from there. If you’re passionate about something, the rest will follow.
- If Martin had the opportunity to trade places with any Andersonville business for a day, he would choose Lost Larson (5318 N Clark St) because of the obvious passion they have for their work and the delicious pastries.
Visit Lady Gregory’s and Octavio on the following platforms:
In honor of Chicago Theatre Week and the Year of Chicago Theatre, this week Laura and Joelle are joined by six members of Steep Theatre in their newly opened Boxcar venue. Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre and is committed to producing new and under-produced plays that tell the stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Their current sold out production Red Rex is about a small theatre company embarking on an explosive new play with the hope of finally breaking it big and has already been named one of Chicago Tribune’s top 10 Chicago shows for 2019. Located at 1115 W. Berwyn, you can find this intimate theatre just two doors down from the Berwyn El Station.
From left to right, back: Peter Moore, Thomas Dixon | Front: Sophiyaa Nayar, Ryan Kling, Sasha Smith, Kate Platt-Eckert
“Watching other people battle these demons [on stage] helps us understand and work through things without having it be about us.”
– Kate Platt-Eckert
Listen to Episode 47 with the Steep Staff!
Here are some references from Episode 47 that you may want to check out:
- Laura and Joelle visited the Boxcar on-site this week to talk with six employees of the Steep Theatre. Get to know them below:
- Kate Platt-Eckert: Daughter of a theatre manager and lifelong thespian, Kate found Steep when working as a stage manager in 2006. She took a break from theatre for a few years after that job, then came back to work as the Executive Director five years ago.
- Peter Moore: Inspired by film, Peter acted in high school and college theatre as much as he possibly could. One of the founding members of Steep, the artistic director, and an actor, Peter has been with the company since 2001.
- Sophiyaa Nayer: Growing up with the magic of Bollywood film, Sophiyaa has been putting on shows ever since she could remember – the earlier ones had costumes made of pillow cases and an audience made up of her family. She ran into Steep six months ago, fell in love with it, and recently started working as the Program Coordinator.
- Sasha Smith: Growing up with an actor dad and a comedian mom, Sasha received the full breadth of theatre growing up. Her childhood destined her for Steep, where she has been working for almost two years as an Artistic Curator and an ensemble member.
- Thomas Dixon: Artistic Curator and Sound Designer at Steep since 2006, Thomas was first inspired by his visits to the theatre with his Grandma. Originally wanting to be in Star Trek, he realized when in college that he also had a passion for sound design.
- Ryan Kling: As the Bar Manager, Ryan has been helping cultivate a menu with a distinct feel for the Boxcar. He grew up in Chicago, has been working for restaurants for 20+ years, and is excited to be able to work with Steep. He’s often inspired by the magic of production and loves the people that populate theatres.
Laura and Joelle sit and discuss Steep’s history with the staff at the Boxcar Theatre.
- Steep Theatre was founded in 2000 by three actors that banded together to have more creative control over the shows they were in. Their first show – “Life During Wartime” by Keith Reddin – featured about ten actors and a simple set. In total the production was a few thousand dollars. Although it was a small, low-budget production, “Life During Wartime” was a show that lead to the consistent use of ensembles at Steep because “the stage felt alive with so many voices on it.” View all past productions here.
- The Steep ensemble continued to work and find their aesthetic at their first space in Wrigleyville from 2005-2008. As their budgets grew, so did their cast and audience until they expanded into their Boxcar Location on 1115 W Berwyn in 2018.
- It has been the mission of Steep since the beginning to produce theatre that challenges the audience’s beliefs, offers relatability, and ventures into life’s dark, dusty corners without fear. Steep’s staff works to make their work a personal and accessible experience through the shows they offer and their small, intimate space that seats only fifty-five people.
- Theatre is often considered to be “practice for life.” In shows like the ones performed at the Boxcar, people can look at the problems they grapple with through the eyes of the character. Discussing characters and their experiences can help audiences to better understand themselves and their own experiences.
From Steep Theatre’s “Red Rex.” Photo by Lee Miller
- This transcendent, vicarious experience can be found in “Red Rex,” which tells the story of a theatre company and their conflicts with gentrification, racism, and ownership. It is very much a story of the theatre scene in Chicago, which generated self-examination for many of the staffers at Steep. Tickets are sold out, but are the possibility of purchase is not lost – there is a waitlist that will put you next in line if there is a cancellation.
- After “Red Rex,” there are two more shows to watch out for in the 2019 season: “First Love is the Revolution,” opening in April, and “Pamona,” which comes out in July. Learn more about the writers, directors, and the stories they are going to tell here.
- The Boxcar was opened thanks to a money-raising campaign. The space features a full bar, cozy seating, and free performances on Sunday and Monday evenings.
- Steep is also attempting to fulfill their mission through non-theatrical performance modes such as music, comedy, storytelling, lectures, and free willing discussions. Local band “The Winchesters” will be playing the fourth Monday of every month until April; there will also be visual artists featured, with a new exhibition coming in every four months.
The current visual artist on display at the Boxcar is Ken Ellis. He has worked exclusively with quilts and dye paints for the past thirty years.
- The bar dances on the line of a theatre bar and a neighborhood bar, as their local clientele is steadily building – especially with the free Sunday and Monday performances. They feature local brews, like Empirical beer, and have several craft cocktails on the menu. The special during “Red Rex” is the Red Line Boulevard: a mix of Four Roses Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a mist of Ardbeg single malt scotch.
- To celebrate the Year of Chicago Theatre, Steep is hoping that every Chicagoan will take the time to see at least one show sometime this year – perhaps during theatre week! There are several shows throughout the city every weekend, and there are very few nights where there is not a show happening somewhere.
- However, if you’re unable to attend a show at Steep or anywhere else, there are other ways you can support the theatre itself: donations are extremely helpful and very appreciated.
- If the Steep Staff could work at any other Andersonville business for a day, they would choose as follows:
“The real magic of theatre is based on humans”
– Sasha Smith
Visit Steep Theatre on the following platforms: