This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Drew Ladochi, owner of Pearle Vision in Andersonville, where your eye health and wellness is their primary focus. Drew has been in the optical world for nearly 10 years and is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life. You can visit Drew at Pearle Vision for eye exams, prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, contacts and more at 4814 N. Clark. 

Drew pictured here with his staff and the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce team at the ribbon cutting of Pearle Vision in the spring of 2019.

Drew pictured here with his staff and the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce team at the ribbon cutting of Pearle Vision in the spring of 2019.

“It’s all about the people. From the people you put on your team, to the people who come into your store and how you treat them.” -Drew Ladochi

Listen to Episode 73 with Drew Ladochi!

Here are some references from Episode 73 that you may want to check out:

  • Drew is originally from Michigan, just outside of Detroit. Specifically, he’s from Algonac, MI from where you can see Canada!
  • Drew has had a tenured career in retail. Prior to Pearle, Drew worked at Express, where he managed large teams of staff, trainings, and the busy holiday seasons. Now, he welcomes the change of managing a small team of 3, which allows him to know his staff and provide the best experience for customers.
  • After 10 years in retail, an opportunity to open his very own eye care franchise with his cousin-in-law came along. Drew has lived in Andersonville since 2012, and opening Pearle this past year meant being in a neighborhood he loved, improving the quality of life for others, with the added bonus of a short commute and no traffic! Drew and his business partner specifically selected Pearle because of their values. The founder, Dr. Stanley Pearle, believed in neighborhood eye centers that offered great care, selection, and customer relationships. In a tough competitive market filled with online options and other retail, Pearle sets itself apart by offering great care, technology, and follow up. 

A look at the retail space at Pearle Vision Andersonville

  • At a typical visit, a customer can expect to be greeted, and walked through their eye care needs. Everything is provided to them electronically for their convenience. They are guided through the store, where there is a lab on-site which can provide eyeglasses in just 1 hour, provided the lenses are in stock.
  • Drew hasn’t always worn glasses, but currently wears blue light filter glasses which reduce eye strain by removing the brightest light from the color spectrum: blue. Since so many of us spend so much time in front of screens, they help to make everyday life more comfortable.
  • Pearle’s location is close to other Andersonville businesses; Ora, StudioUs, Guesthouse Hotel, and Ridman’s, to name a few. Drew loves chatting with his neighbors and promoting them to visitors, friends, and family. They offer an alternative to downtown options and everyone loves them!
Drew pictured here with former One Sight Volunteers in Vietnam.

Drew pictured here with fellow One Sight Volunteers in Vietnam.

  • In addition to providing eye care in Andersonville, Drew is an avid volunteer with One Sight, a vision care and eyewear charity. It is through this charity that Drew solidified his passion for providing eye care, especially to those who need it most. His charity work has brought him to Atlanta, Vietnam, and most recently Mexico, just a few short weeks ago. In Mexico, One Sight served 4,600 people, of which Drew saw 1,600. Specifically, he also had the opportunity to help teach others how to make glasses quickly and correctly. Describing his experience in Mexico, Drew says that it was exhausting (requiring lots of carbs!), and really put things into perspective. The people he served shared that they travel by foot and car, anywhere from 3-6 hours, and that their primary reason for eye care was so they could see well enough to read, and in turn work.
Drew pictured here setting up to ref a dodgeball game

Drew pictured here setting up to ref a dodgeball game

  • Outside of Pearle Vision Drew also cultivates a serious hobby of coaching and playing in LGTB+ sports leagues, often through Chicago Metro Sports Association. He’s been on almost every kind of team imaginable (bocce, bowling, softball, volleyball, dodgeball, kickball, etc.) and even though he didn’t play sports much as a kid, as an adult he has discovered fun in putting a team together. His #1 one rule? No yelling. That, and don’t be mean and have fun! His favorite sport is dodgeball…because it’s funny! Grown people hitting each other with foam balls is just funny, and a far improvement from the old-school days of dreaded rubber kick balls! His teams have also distinguished themselves by wearing blue wigs, and being family-friendly with bubbles and sidewalk chalk. They don’t take themselves too seriously…but don’t let that fool you!
  • When reflecting on characteristics and qualities essential to success, Drew returns to his mother’s advice. “It’s all about the people, from the people on your team to the people who come in your store and how you treat them,” he says. “Be genuine, and how you treat others is how you will be treated.” 
  • If he could swap with another Andersonville business for a day, it would be Strange Cargo. Drew regularly uses them for his sports team jerseys, love the quality of their work, and feels connected to them because of his retail background. And, the offer glitter print! It rocks his world.

Visit Pearle Vision on the following platforms:
Online: www.pearlevision.com/pv-us/stores/il/chicago/9333
Facebook: facebook.com/PearleVisionClarkAndLawrence/

This week’s episode is sponsored by locally-owned Pearle Vision on Clark & Lawrence at 4818 N Clark. Go visit Drew and his team!

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 72 with Kaleb Sullivan of Dearborn Denimn

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Kaleb Sullivan of Dearborn Denim. Dearborn Denim offers the most curiously comfortable jeans imaginable at the best price possible. Everything is cut, sewn, and crafted at their factory in Chicago with the best American made materials and can be custom hemmed to fit at their Andersonville location at 5202 N Clark.

Plus, Dearborn Denim is hosting Urban Renewal Brewery for Taste of Andersonville tomorrow on August 7! 


Kaleb Sullivan in Transistor before recording this week’s episode.

“There are not a lot of neighborhoods that support small businesses, especially on the locally-made front, like Andersonville.”
– Kaleb Sullivan

Listen to Episode 72 with Kaleb Sullivan!

Here are some references from Episode 72 that you may want to check out:

  • Kaleb was born and raised in Chicago in the Bucktown neighborhood. He even lived nearby Andersonville at Lawrence & Ashland immediately after moving out on his own. He’s never lived outside of Chicago!
  • Dearborn Denim was formed in 2016. Founder Rob McMillan who set out to make the perfect pair of jeans for his wife after she felt dejected trying to find jeans that were “affordable, ethical, and sustainabley sourced.” He started with only two different cuts, and the company has since expanded greatly. Check out their different styles here.
  • Kaleb met Rob for the first time at a street fest in 2016. They were vending next to each other at the fest – Kaleb was selling jewelry at the time – and Kaleb couldn’t believe that Rob was selling Made in Chicago jeans for only $49, at the time, and they struck up a conversation about Rob’s company. They kept in touch and Rob reached out to Kaleb to offer him a job when he was ready to open the first brick and mortar. 
  • Rob figured out how to make jeans after talking with a lot of local designers and local stores and was fueled by his drive to succeed and learn. The biggest feedback was customers wanted something comfortable, which lead them to their signature stretch denim. 
  • Dearborn Denim’s sewing team at the factory started with just three people, and now they currently employ 25-30 in the factory. The stores employ another 10 employees. Rob’s goal is to eventually give jobs to at least 100 Chicagoans. You can even tour their factory! Schedule here. 

Inside Dearborn Denim.

  • While Dearborn Denim’s first storefront is in Hyde Park, the company was inspired to open in Andersonville because of the strong local ethos here. Hyde Park is also very far south and east, and they wanted something also on the North Side of the city. View locations.  Andersonville’s location opened in May 2018.
  • Sara recalls fondly when AKIRA (5228 N Clark) was first looking at Andersonville and the utter surprise and delight their team felt at stepping into Andersonville for the first time, having originated out of Hyde Park as well.  
  • Dearborn Denim, located at 5202 N Clark, is a lovely space that even the Chamber has used in the past as headquarters for Arts Week in 2017. Kaleb mentions that the arrow on the street sign really won them over on location. 

Dearborn Denim staff during Andersonville Sidewalk Sale 2019.

  • When a customer comes in to purchase jeans, the Dearborn Denim staff is there to custom hem each and every pair length-wise on the spot. Most jeans take only about 10 minutes to hem. 
  • Kaleb touches on “the retail apocalypse” – He doesn’t think retail is going anywhere, not while people still feel the need to go in and touch, feel and try on the product. Especially with jeans, customers are so intrinsically invested on finding the perfect fit. Once a customer is established in the Dearborn Denim system, however, they can continue to shop their choices online since fit has already been established. Kaleb feels Dearborn is fighting the “apocalypse” by inviting other local, creative entrepreneurs and designers in for pop-ups, events and collaborations at their storefront.

Stillhouse Whiskey partnered with Dearborn Denim during Arts Week 2018 for their artist party.

  • Dearborn Denim jeans were once carried by local retailer Milk Handmade (5137 N Clark). Since opening their own stores, they don’t often have products in other shops, but certainly value the relationships they’ve built.
  • Dearborn Denim is looking to open one or two more storefronts by the end of 2019! They are looking at both a South Loop location and Lincoln Park location.
  • The V2 wash is also a new wash that Dearborn Denim has just released. They have also developed new products like t-shirts and the Commuter jean. The Commuter is designed with the cyclist in mind and has a tighter ankle to avoid getting caught in the gears, a darted knee for extra moment, a more padded seat, angled pockets and a higher waste. 
  • Dearborn is also considering more levels of customization, including customer-designed distressing; think ripped knees, blown out pockets, and bleached legs. Kaleb also jokingly talks about “heritage jeans” with a large buckle on the back to let out the waist.
  • Denim on denim or “the Canadian tuxedo,” as Kaleb calls it, is something that Dearborn has considered when it looks to a future of making denim jackets and shirts. Right now, though, they are focused on making sure they can keep up with pants orders. 

“As long as you’re clean, your jeans are clean. If you wash your jeans more than one time every 10 wears, that’s way too much – fun fact.”
– Kaleb Sullivan

  • Kaleb says the life expectancy of jeans really depends on the wearer. The heavy wearer’s pair could last 2-3 years, but if the wearer is swapping out and taking care of their pants, jeans can last up to a decade. Jeans need to be washed cold, inside out and hung to dry. The very dedicated washer could even go as far was washing them by hand, in a tub at low water levels. There are even detergents that specialize in dark wash, like The Laundress, a denim wash made out of Brooklyn. Kaleb says you do NOT need to put your jeans in the freezer to clean them. 
  • If given the opportunity to switch places with another Andersonville business, Kaleb would choose four: Transistor (5224 N Clark), Strange Cargo (5216 N Clark) because Kaleb loves the aesthetic in there, Candyality (5225 N Clark) even though his dentist wouldn’t appreciate it – shout out to 1st Family Dental (5333 N Clark), and Village Discount (4898 N Clark) so he could be a sorter in the back. 

Even elves need jeans! The Elf on the Shelf Tommy Hall visited Dearborn Denim during the Late Night Andersonville 2018. Photo by Thomas Bock.

Visit Dearborn Denim on the following platforms:
Online: dearborndenim.us
Facebook: facebook.com/dearborndenim
Instagram: @dearborndenim

This week’s episode is sponsored by locally-owned Pearle Vision on Clark & Lawrence at 4818 N Clark.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 71 with Brandon Cloyd of Barrel of Monkeys

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Brandon Cloyd of Barrel of Monkeys. Barrel of Monkeys is an ensemble of actors and educators who create an alternative learning environment in which students aged 7-13 throughout Chicago share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations. Their current production, That’s Weird Grandma: Fanastic Beasts and the Stories About Them can be seen Monday nights at 8PM now through August 12 at The Neo Futurists Theater at 5153 N. Ashland.  


Brandon Cloyd in Studio C.

“In a quick look at Barrel of Monkeys you could think it’s a ‘Kids say the darndest things’ moment. But for us it’s not that at all. It’s that the students are really intentional and really smart.”
– Brandon Cloyd

Listen to Episode 71 with Brandon Cloyd!

Here are some references from Episode 71 that you may want to check out:

  • Brandon is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan and got involved in theatre through his dad, who was on the board of directors at a local theater. One of his tasks was to check in on rehearsals, and he took Brandon along with him, which is where he fell in love with the idea of performing. 
  • After doing theatre in middle and high school, and teaching at a theatre summer camp, Brandon went to Northwestern University to study theatre and business administration, always keeping a focus on children’s education.
  • An audition is what brought Brandon to Barrel of Monkeys originally; however he had known about the company for a while; it was one of the first places he auditioned after college in 2007.
  • He’s had many roles within the company, such as: actor, teaching artist, program director, and artistic director.
  • Barrel of Monkeys was started by two women, Erica Halverson and Halena Kays, 22 years ago. They were part of a student theatre group at Northwestern University called Griffin’s Tale, which also performed children’s stories. After college they wanted to continue that work, as well as add an educational aspect to it, leading to the creation of Barrel of Monkeys.
  • Most of the work that Barrel of Monkeys produces isn’t seen by the public. Instead, it’s shown to the student authors, in roughly 20 public schools all around Chicago.

(left to right) Aissa Guerra, Nic Park and Noah Appelbaum perform “Extreme Alien Party!” in Barrel of Monkeys’ new revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Fantastic Beasts and the Stories About Them. Photo by Evan Hanover.

  • The public shows are performed weekly at The Neo Futurist Theater (5153 N Ashland) here in Andersonville, although Barrel of Monkeys is looking for an additional theatre space on the south side of Chicago as well so they can be accessible to all of the students they work with.
  • Aside from the in-school programs, Barrel of Monkeys also offers after-school programs. The main difference between the two is that the after-school program is a little more exploratory and the curriculum bends towards what the students are interested in, as they are often students who chose to be there. The in-school program curriculum is pretty structured, as they work with a classroom for about 90 minutes once a  week, for six weeks. Each week, they take a look at a different aspect of the curriculum. 

(left to right) Jennifer Johnson and Tom Malinowski perform “Unicorn aka a Horse” in Barrel of Monkeys’ new revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Fantastic Beasts and the Stories About Them. Photo by Evan Hanover.


(left to right) Jennifer Johnson, Emily Marso, Aissa Guerra and Tom Malinowski perform “The Living Toilet” in Barrel of Monkeys’ new revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA: Fantastic Beasts and the Stories About Them. Photo by Evan Hanover.

Visit Barrel of Monkeys on the following platforms:
Online: barrelofmonkeys.org
Facebook: facebook.com/BarrelofMonkeysChicago
Instagram: @barrel.of.monkeys
Twitter: @bomonkeys

 This week’s episode is sponsored by locally-owned Pearle Vision on Clark & Lawrence at 4818 N Clark.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 70 with Richard Price of Alamo Shoes

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Richard Price of Alamo Shoes. Alamo Shoes has been providing a sole-ful experience to shoe shoppers since 1971. Their wide selection of shoes for the whole family combined with their dedicated sales staff ensure that everyone will leave happy with a great pair of comfortable footwear. Located at 5321 N Clark, be sure to take advantage of their free parking in the lot across the street. 

And don’t miss Alamo’s super bowl of sales this weekend during the annual Andersonville Sidewalk Sale starting on Thursday, July 25. 


(from left) Laura Austin, Sara Dinges, Andy Miles, and Richard Price record this week’s episode in the back stock room of Alamo Shoes.

“I have two homes: I have my house I live in, and I have Alamo Shoes”
– Richard Price


Listen to Episode 70 with Richard Price!

Here are some references from Episode 70 that you may want to check out:

  • Richard practically grew up in a shoe store, and his parents owned multiple shops around Chicago before opening Alamo Shoes in 1971.
  • One of the benefits of being a family owned store is that he gets to see his family nearly 24/7, which is something most people aren’t able to do. It also brings more passion and heart into the business.
  • Richard’s maternal grandfather opened a shoe store when he came to the United States from Poland. His father had already been working at shoe stores before his mother, so shoes seemed to already be part of the family.
IMG_2558 (1)

The exterior of Alamo Shoes with the new sign, swapped in September 2018.

  • When Richard’s parents tried to buy the building that Alamo Shoes is in now, the realtor wouldn’t accept their offer. Instead of looking elsewhere his mom called the owner directly and was able to get the building.
  • Alamo Shoes recently went through a renovation, but it’s not the first big renovation the building has had. In the mid 80s, they doubled the size of their business. The newest renovation, however, was motivated by pride. They wanted it to provide a better shopping experience and to be truly proud of their space.

The interior sales floor of Alamo Shoes.

  • When it comes to keeping up with trends, Richard explains the first thing he notices about someone is their shoes, and that he’s always listening and watching for what people want. He even visits other shoe stores while on vacation to fully understand what people are looking for.

An employee pulls shoe sizes for a customer during our interview.

  • The most popular type of shoe sold at Alamo are comfortable, versatile shoes that you’ll find yourself wearing 97% of the time. To achieve that they have plenty of different brands, sizes, and widths to make sure everyone gets the perfect fit. See their selection here.
  • Richard explains that because online shopping is so prevalent, people can end up buying the wrong size of shoe. If your foot is wider than average, you might go up a half size to compensate, which throws off the rest of the fit.
  • Although it may be old school, going into a store to get your foot measured is the best way to get a pair of shoes that fit properly, which will lead to greater comfort.

Alamo Shoes set up for Summer Sidewalk Sale in 2016.

  • The Andersonville Summer Sidewalk Sale is Alamo Shoes’ biggest event of the year, so they truly focus on value. The men’s shoe sale will have great brands at 3 pairs for $95 this weekend. Women’s racks will be $35 for the first pair, $30 for the second, and $25 for the third. Kids shoes will be $15 for one pair or 2 pairs for $25. 
  • Alamo’s sale hours are Thursday (7/25) and Friday (7/26) 9AM-8PM, Saturday (7/27) 9AM-6PM, and Sunday (7/28) 10AM-6PM.
  • If Richard could chose one Andersonville business to trade places with it would have been Augie’s, a former Andersonville restaurant with cheap, delicious food that closed back in 2007.

Shoe back stock in Alamo’s back room.

Visit Alamo Shoes on the following platforms:

Online: alamoshoes.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AlamoShoes

This week’s episode is sponsored by locally-owned Pearle Vision on Clark & Lawrence at 4818 N Clark.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 69 with Lisa Blume of The Blume Group

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Realtor Lisa Blume of The Blume Group. With over 20 years of sales, marketing and advertising experience, Lisa brings her in-depth knowledge to Chicago residential real estate buyers & sellers and specializes in Andersonville, Edgewater and Uptown with a great understanding of neighborhood markets, home staging and marketing, Lisa is with you every step of the way. 


Lisa Blume recording with us in Studio C.

“You’re in charge of your own destiny. If you like that, this career could be for you.”
– Lisa Blume

Listen to Episode 69 with Lisa Blume!

 Here are some references from Episode 69 that you may want to check out:

  • Lisa is originally from Louisville Kentucky, but has been living in Chicago for 18 years. Although originally moving for a man, she instantly fell in love with Chicago and never left.
  • Before The Blume Group, Lisa worked in advertising and media for home magazines. This gave her the opportunity to be around great designers and stagers, and to pick up those skills organically, as well as develop a keen eye for photography.
  • From that experience she also learned a lot about sales, and how to do marketing online. That has made the transition to The Blume Group easier as she can help her clients with those things. 
  • As well as selling a client’s house, Lisa also makes sure to personally stage it, along with giving the clients a list of things to do or get rid of to help the house sell faster. The weirdest thing she had to tell a client to do was to get rid of a beer kegerator! 
  • Lisa moved from Lakeview to Andersonville around seven years ago to have more space for her and her daughter. The tree lined blocks and having the restaurants on Clark within walking distance made them fall in love with the neighborhood.
  • To new homeowners moving to Chicago, Lisa would describe Andersonville simply as a neighborhood, an unexpected one among many in Chicago, as well as a great community.
1655 W Edgewater

One of Lisa’s current listings at 1655 W Edgewater.

  • Some of Lisa’s tips for selling a home would be to stage it and make the pictures look amazing. She also likes to create a sense of urgency with limited open houses and scheduling appointments back to back. Find more tips for selling here.
  • One of the benefits of home ownership is that it can be cheaper than renting. Mortgage rates are quite low right now and they’re not expected to go up over the course of the year.
  • When looking for houses in specific school districts, Lisa recommends her clients to visit greatschools.org, as a good school can be subjective. If the client is a couple, she makes sure they’re on the same page. Then she’ll figure out what’s important to them and make sure they land in the right place.

Lisa photographed by Anjali Pinto for the 2019-20 Andersonville Neighborhood Guide.

  • Lisa’s story was featured in this year’s 2019-20 Andersonville Neighborhood Guide, which she wanted to do to help support the neighborhood and get more involved with the Chamber. Her experience with Anjali Pinto was amazing and she hopes to become the Andersonville go-to realtor by supporting the community.
  • One piece of advice for someone looking to enter the Realtor field is that it’s hard work and you need to be available 24/7. The work is flexible, but not easy.
  • Lisa’s favorite architectural style is an American Four Square. Although, she’s also interested in two-flat and three-flats.
  • Lisa has three Andersonville businesses she’d like to switch with. The first being A Taste of Heaven (5401 N Clark), so she could ensure they make the cherry quiche weekly. The second business is George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N Clark), to save money on all the ice cream her and her daughter get there. Last but not least is Gethsemane Garden Center (5739 N Clark) because of the memories and the joy it brings her.

Visit The Blume Group and Lisa Blume on the following networks:
Online: lisablume.net
Facebook: facebook.com/LisaBlumeChicagoRealEstate
Instagram: @lisablumebroker
Twitter: @blume_lisa

This week’s episode is sponsored by locally-owned Pearle Vision on Clark & Lawrence at 4818 N Clark.

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 68 with David Cerda of Hell in a Handbag Productions

This week Laura and Joelle are joined by David Cerda, Artistic Director of Hell in A Handbag Productions. Hell in A Handbag Productions (HIAH) is known for the amazing theatrical parodies including The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes now showing volume 3 at Mary’s Attic at 5400 N. Clark through August 31. 


David Cerda records with us in Studio C.

“As a writer, it’s my job to make fun of everybody. I’m not just attacking one group or the other. I’m just exposing the silliness in our society.”
– David Cerda

Listen to Episode 68 with David Cerda!

Here are some references from Episode 68 that you may want to check out:

  • David is from Northwest Indiana and moved to Chicago around 38 years ago. He didn’t get involved in theatre until his mid thirties, when he had a “Come to Jesus” moment about what he was going to do for the rest of his life. He then discovered his love for writing and got involved with Sweetback Productions playing bit parts and writing shows.
  • His first big hit was SCARRIE- The Musical in 1998, which ran for 18 months, and that what really got him started in the theatre industry.
  • Hell in a Handbag Productions (HIAH) was formed after David parted ways with Sweetback Productions. 
  • The first production of HIAH was Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical on a small budget. It was a hit, ran for 8 months, and when to the New York International Fringe Festival, which gave them the money to start the company. Poseidon! An Upside Down Musical also won the best ensemble award and was the most attended show at the New York International Fringe Festival. HIAH has revived it twice since then.
  • David has many roles at the theatre, including artistic director, resident playwright, and actor. He explains that it can be overwhelming, but the theatre has many hands helping out, even though they’re small. 
  • One of their favorite places to perform, as an itinerant theatre, is Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark) in Andersonville. The company has great relationships with the businesses in Andersonville, and they’re glad to bring their audience’s business to Andersonville.
GoldenGirlsVol3-9_ David Cerda and Danne Taylor in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ hit parody THE GOLDEN GIRLS The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studi

David Cerda and Danne Taylor in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ hit parody THE GOLDEN GIRLS The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

  • HIAH is currently showing two productions: The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3 and The Drag Seed. David explains that when he’s writing he thinks about what would be interesting to the audience. 
  • The Golden Girls was something mentioned to him multiple times by audience members, so he decided to write something based off of it. Although there are many Golden Girl theatre shows around the country, HIAH is the only one doing all original scripts. They start with prompts like, “wouldn’t it be funny if…” and see how the situation plays out. The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3 is running through August 31 at Mary’s Attic. 
GoldenGirlsVol3-10_(left to right) Ed Jones, Grant Drager, David Cerda and Ryan Oates in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ hit parody THE GOLDEN GIRLS The Lost Episode

(left to right) Ed Jones, Grant Drager, David Cerda and Ryan Oates in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ hit parody THE GOLDEN GIRLS The Lost Episodes, Vol. 3. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

  • The Drag Seed was based off of a classic movie called The Bad Seed. HIAH tried to get the rights for the play, but were denied as they didn’t want men in drag playing some of the roles. So David wrote his own version. The Drag Seed is running through August 21 also at Mary’s Attic. 
TheDragSeed-4 David Cerda, Kristopher Bottrall and Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ world premiere parody THE DRAG SEED. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

(left to right) David Cerda, Kristopher Bottrall and Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ world premiere parody THE DRAG SEED. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

TheDragSeed-1 (left to right) Kristopher Bottrall and Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ world premiere parody THE DRAG SEED. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

(left to right) Kristopher Bottrall and Ed Jones in Hell in a Handbag Productions’ world premiere parody THE DRAG SEED. Photo by Rick Aguilar Studios.

  • In 2016, David was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, which he says was a big surprise. The performance style of “camp” has always been a part of who he is and he believes that it’s our job to help each other as a part of civilization. Check out David’s write up on his camp style in the archives of the Chicago Reader.  
  • Next up in the fall for HIAH is the Facts of Life: Satan’s School for Girls. It’s a musical mashup of The Facts of Life TV show and two made for TV movies David loved as a child: Satan’s School for Girls and The Initiation of Sarah. This new production will be opening towards the end of September.
  • If David could trade places with an Andersonville business for a day, he would pick FOURSIDED (5061 N Clark). He loves its aesthetic and its unique selection. He also loves Kopi Café (5317 N Clark) thanks to it’s funkiness. He wants Kopi, and places like it, to stick around Andersonville for a long time.

“People call it a LGBTQ theatre, but it’s really just for anybody that feels like they don’t fit in.”
– David Cerda

Visit Hell in a Handbag Productions on the following platforms:
Online: handbagproductions.org
Facebook: facebook.com/HandbagChicago

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 67 with Joel Berman of Berman Architecture & Design

This week Laura and Sara are joined by Joel Berman. Joel is the founder and president of Berman Design, a Chicago architecture, interior design and branding firm specializing in adaptive reuse and heritage restoration for restaurant, hospitality, institutional and residential development and is located at 5212 N Clark.

Joel sketching near train

Joel Berman sketching downtown.

“Working with Andersonville is like working with the salt of the earth”
– Joel Berman

Listen to Episode 67 with Joel Berman!

Here are some references from Episode 67 you may want to check out:

  • Joel is native to Chicago, but has had a couple of different jobs before becoming an architect; as a union beer vendor, owning a lawn cutting business, and doing calligraphy for wedding invitations. 
  • As a child, Joel decided he wanted to draw, so he saved up to buy the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It’s a book for teachers, and he completed all the exercises within it. 
  • Although Joel went to school to be an architect, he was also considering a career as a doctor. His father, who was already a physician, encouraged him not to go down that path, so he landed on architecture. 
In Fine Spirits Design Concept

In Fine Spirits design concept.

In Fine Spirits Interior

The interior of In Fine Spirits at 5418 N Clark, one of Joel’s projects.

  • Joel uses fast sketching, or freehand perspective drawing, as a tool in the design process. He claims that it helps to think in a design way faster, and leads to a direct and immediate conversation about the space. Software is used for the creation of building documents, but the conceptual phase is most suited to sketches. Check out some of Joel’s sketches here.
  • In the early 90s, Joel was invited to teach highschoolers how to draw. He enjoyed that experience and started to develop a curriculum while teaching at Columbia College Interior Architecture Masters Program, a series of exercises that are done at different locations. He looks forward to teaching more in the future.
  • In his free time, Joel likes to spend time kayaking and sketching on the Chicago river. It helps relax him, as well as remind him to create things that aren’t just for function’s sake, but something that feeds the soul.
  • One of Joel’s favorite projects is In Fine Spirits (5418 N Clark) due the simplicity. Joelis also proud of the Andersonville Galleria (5247 N Clark), because it’s something unique and special to the neighborhood. 
  • He’d advise new, upcoming designers to develop themselves with multiple tools, and not to rely solely on technology. Also to be creative, not just visually, but when it comes to efficiency and experience. 
  • If he could, Joel would like to trade places with a restaurant or a food business in the neighborhood to be in the thick of it. 

Joel with his sketchbook during our session at Studio C.

Visit Berman Design on the following platforms:
Online: bermanarchitecture.com
Facebook: facebook.com/BermanArchitectureDesign
Instagram: @bermanarchitecture 
Twitter: @BermanArch
LinkedIn: Berman Design

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 66 with Dr. Mark Sachse of Chiro One Wellness Center of Andersonville

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Dr. Mark Sachse, chiropractic director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Andersonville. Mark is passionate about helping families and individuals. Chiro One believes you should be able to enjoy extraordinary wellness and the staff at their Andersonville center wants to help you live a better life, free of pain at 5623 N. Clark.


Dr. Mark Sachse and Haley Shaw – Business Wellness Consultant, of Chiro One Wellness, record in Studio C.

“My job is to look at the root cause of anything going on and see how I can allow your body to operate more efficiently and whether that puts you over a threshold of where things can possibly get better for you.”
– Dr. Mark Sachse

Listen to Episode 66 with Dr. Mark Sachse!

Here are some references from Episode 66 that you may want to check out:

  • Dr. Mark started receiving chiropractic care because of asthma. Since his mom was already seeing a chiropractor, he joined her and found he needed his inhaler less and was able to play more.
  • He didn’t begin his career journey as a chiropractor, but instead worked on films. As that became more and more stressful, he wanted to do something that would serve people instead. 
  • Dr. Mark has family in Milwaukee, and moved back there after completing school in L.A. due to family sickness. After being there for a bit, he decided to move to Chicago. Learn more about Dr. Mark Sachse here
  • Looking at different cultures in history, there’s always been a form of manual medicine. Chiropractic was somewhat rediscovered in the late 1800s. Chiropractors detect and remove subluxation, or the shifting of vertebrae, which can put pressure on the spinal cord as well as nerves that exit the spine. The shifts leads to the brain being unable to communicate effectively with the body, creating spine and muscle pain. By fixing the position of  the vertebrae, the pain can go away.
  •  If your body is functioning better, you’re less likely to have any kind of illness or problem. That being said, an adjustment can’t cure something like diabetes; however if your brain is communicating better with you pancreas, you’re more likely to thrive.
  • When customers come into Chiro One with a specific complaint, that complaint is always addressed in their appointment; however Dr. Mark and his team also look for other things that could be affecting the nervous system and address those as well.
Chiro One at Farmers Market

Chiro One setup at the weekly Andersonville Farmers Market.

  • There are all kinds of ways to adjust the body, as every person has a different set of needs, comfort levels, and everyone’s body itself is a little different.
  • Dr. Mark reminds us that sleep is super important, and we should work to get 8-9 hours a night, as well as paying attention to good form and making sure your pillow supports you.
  • In addition to adults and the elderly, Chiro One also sees infants and children. Dr. Mark explains that coming into the world isn’t easy for such a fragile body, so it can be really helpful for infants to see a chiropractor.
  • Chiro One also hosts Meet the Doctor events in restaurants around Andersonville. These are meant to be open, educational discussions about health. The goal is to help the community feel comfortable, and to help people find the best solution to their health problems, whether it’s through Chiro One’s services or another route. See the Chiro One event calendar here.
  • Chiro One also has a Be Well Blog that helps addresses health related issues, like are there toxins in your household?, tips for better sleep, tips for studying, what kinds of vitamins you should be getting, and more. It’s all about education.
  • Dr. Mark struggled to pick a Andersonville business to swap with as he’s experienced connections and relationships with so many of them. He mentioned Piatto Pronto (5624 N Clark), Big City Optical (5653 N Clark), and Candiality (5225 N Clark) before exclaiming he couldn’t just pick one.

Visit Chiro One Wellness on the following platforms:
Online: chiroone.net
Facebook: facebook.com/ChiroOneAndersonville
Instagram: @chiroone
Twitter: @chiroone

#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes for Episode 65 with Kirsten Franklin of Akvavit Theatre

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Kirsten Franklin of Akvavit Theatre. Since its beginning, Akvavit has been busy commissioning translations of contemporary Nordic works, staging readings of Nordic plays, and launching fully-staged productions. Akvavit Theatre embraces inclusivity and diversity and as an itinerant theatre can be found all over the City.


Kirsten Franklin records in Transistor’s Studio C.

“That’s the joy of theatre to me, the collaboration of a bunch of people coming together to create art.”
– Kristen Franklin

Listen to Episode 65 with Kirsten Franklin!

Here are some references from Episode 65 that you may want to check out:

  • Kirsten was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and has lived all over since then. She’s been in Minnesota, Kentucky, New York, Florida, and even aboard before landing in Chicago nine years ago.
  • The first production that Kirsten was in was a stage performance of M*A*S*H when she was in middle school.
  • Akvavit Theatre was founded in 2009 by Bergen Anderson and Chad Eric Bergman. They met at a swedish language camp and were able to get a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (the Bank of Sweden’s Tercentenary Foundation) in order to start the theatre.
Kirsten in Red and Green

Kirsten in Akvavit’s production of Red and Green.

  • Kirsten joined the theatre in 2011 when she was cast in their first full production, called Red and Green.
  • Akvavit has always wanted to settle down in Andersonville due to the fact that both company and neighborhood have nordic roots.
  • The theatre has seven full time company members, as well as 10 associate company members. They also work with a lot of outside artists, who they have gifted the title “friends” on their website. Learn more about the full Akvavit Ensemble here.
  • The past year Akvavit performed at places like the Swedish American Museum (5211 N Clark) storefront and the Andersonville Galleria (5247 N Clark). Those plays were commissioned from a business in Denmark, who works with writers throughout the Nordic countries, specifically for Andersonville. Akvavit hopes to keep doing these site specific performances again in the future.
  • Kirsten and Akvavit as a whole think that immersive theatre is important, as the audience can see and feel everything the actors are doing. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it leads to feeling like a part of the performance, which is something you can’t achieve from a stage.

A Little Night of Nordic Music

  • Akvavit’s second Annual Benefit Concert “A Little Night of Nordic Music” will be on June 24 at 7PM, hosted at the Swedish American Museum. Learn more here. There, they will be announcing their next season of plays and readings. Of course, there will also be a great performance of Nordic music!
  • A typical day for Kirsten, as a co-artistic director, professor of theater, and a mother of two is a little crazy. At Akvavit, her job is all volunteer based, meaning she can work on what needs to be done when she finds time for it.
  • American theatre stopped with realism, much like a living room drama. However European theatre tends to be a little less linear. Akvavit also leans into three big Nordic elements: the power of silence, being comfortable with ambiguity, and negative space.
  • Because Akvavit doesn’t have a performance space of their own, set design can be difficult. They try to pick a location that works well with the play, and if that isn’t possible they make sure to design the set for the place they’re able to use.
  • If given the chance to switch with an Andersonville business for the day, Kristen would love to switch with places Candyality (5225 N Clark), and would be snacking on anything gummy. If not Candyality, she would pick George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N Clark), and loves the pretzel cone.
Kirstin with Joelle and Laura

(from left) Kirsten Franklin, Laura Austin and Joelle Scillia

Visit Akvavit Theatre on the following platforms:
Online: chicagonordic.org
Facebook: facebook.com/AkvavitTheatre
Instagram: @akvavittheatre
Twitter: @AkvavitTheatre


#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show notes from Episode 64 with Andy Peters of TrueNorth Café

This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Andy Peters, owner of TrueNorth Café an independent, healthy cafe that serves top-notch coffee & tea, proper eats, and blended drinks in a serene and community space where everyone is welcome at 5507 N Clark.


Sara Dinges and Andy Peters recording in Studio C.

“Before I opened, I heard the phrase, ‘start before you’re ready’ and you have to do that, but looking back at it, it’s shocking how unready you are when you start.”
– Andy Peters

Listen to Episode 64 with Andy Peters!

Here are some references from Episode 64 that you may want to check out:

  • Andy has always been entrepreneurial – even as a kid. This desire led him to study economics in college, and after working in an office out of college, he jumped on the opportunity to start a business instead of continuing office work.
  • Andy opened the Andersonville location of TrueNorth in 2016, but moved to Chicago in 2013. He is originally from Berwyn, IL.  
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Front counter of the café. Photo by Mike Rivera.

  • The concept of the store was very focused at the beginning, only offering a small menu including salads and wraps. Over time that has expanded, and now Andy jokes it’s a smoothie shop disguised as a coffee shop. View the current menu here.
  • The original name for the café was ProGo (Protein Chicago), which was softly received by friends and family, but outright rejected by Larry Vodak of Scout (5221 N Clark), who eventually helped Andy design the café. Instead, he started thinking of map and explorer names and landed on TrueNorth, which was fitting, considering the café already had several of the globes in place as decor.
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TrueNorth smoothie offerings. Photo by Mike Rivera.

  • The menu is always changing with the seasons, however there’s often no big reason for the change, other then it accommodating what Andy feels like serving. This summer you can look forward to more prominent iced teas and cold brew smoothies.
  • A typical day for Andy starts in a state of horror, as he often already has texts or calls of things going wrong in his shops. After dealing with those, he makes lists of what needs to get done and gets to work.
  • Andy started the Andersonville cafe’s design by himself, but he knew that “Andersonville was a hard place to please design wise.”  Andy kept finding himself shopping at Scout, and after trying to purchase a Remington table for the space, he was told be Larry that he was “designing it all wrong,” and walked up to the space to see what was what. Larry is responsible for finding the big wooden Harvest table (perfect for meetings!) in the back of TrueNorth and restoring it.
  • As well as having a great menu, TrueNorth is also a great place for hosting private or community events, and they also offer different types of catering. View the catering menu here.
  • Opening their second location in Hyde Park came with a different set of issues then their first in Andersonville, but it was much easier as they didn’t need to create a menu and already knew how to do things, like ordering food in bulk.
  • TrueNorth also offers things like vitamins and protein powders, which has evolved along with the restaurant. They price these to beat Amazon’s price, to ensure you’re getting a great deal.
  • They’re also starting to incorporate CBD oil into some of their coffee drinks and smoothies, as well as selling bottles.
  • Andy talks about his experience on the The Chicago Mayoral Business Council and how it helped that he had experience working with for the city before, as well as the Illinois restaurant association before opening the café. He’s seen improvement on licensing issues, and is proud of those results.
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Andy in front of the Wall of Globes in the back of the café. Photo by Mike Rivera.

  • As to his own coffee and tea habits, Andy explains he drinks mostly black coffee or plain espresso drinks. Although he always has a coffee cup with him, he drinks it slowly throughout the day, so he doesn’t end up drinking too much of it.
  • The coffee he sells at the café is Metropolis Coffee. He discovered it’s deliciousness first at a diner in Lincoln Park, Jam’n Honey, and later discovered it too used to headquarter in Andersonville, making it the best of both worlds.
  • Many of TrueNorth’s other ingredients also come from places in Andersonville, as they try to shop local and support the other business of Andersonville, like Edgewater Produce and Phoenix Bean.
  • If able to trade places with an Andersonville business for a day, Andy would pick something that he could curate, like Transistor (5224 N Clark), or somewhere that their product wouldn’t go bad, like Brownstone (5234 N Clark) . He definitely wouldn’t want to swap with a restaurant, claiming that a café is hard enough.
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Photo by Mike Rivera.

Visit TrueNorth Café on the following platforms:
Online: truenorthchicago.com
Facebook: facebook.com/TrueNorthChicago
Instagram: @truenorthchicago
Twitter: @TrueNorthCafe