Starbucks Chicago Roastery a coffee wonderland

By Elisa Shoenberger

At 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15th, Starbucks Chicago Roastery opened as a temple dedicated to all things coffee. Each facet, from the architecture to food offerings, is a celebration of the exalted coffee bean. 

It’s the “best experiential retail you’ll see anywhere,” guest speaker and Crate and Barrel founder Gordon Segal said. The new store honored the former location of the Crate and Barrel flagship that was designed to be an experience for its customers.

Visitors appear to be filled with wonder as they enter the largest Starbucks in the world. Eyes are drawn to the 56-foot golden cask filled with roasted coffee. It soars up several stories with “symphony piping” shooting roasted coffee to the many bars and coffee stations throughout the store. 

“If you want to come in and just look and grab your coffee, that’s fantastic. But if you want to dig down on coffee and learn everything, then we’re here for that too,” said Marc Wanless, Director of Global Operations, Roasteries at Starbucks. 

Throughout the day, employees roast 25 pound batches of coffee beans that are loaded into the giant cask. All coffee roasted, Wanless explained, was exclusive to the Roastery Chicago location.

By following the cask and symphony piping to the upper floors, visitors will find more than the average Starbucks cup of coffee. There is a holiday special, a three-layered “Pistachio bicerin” at Experiential Coffee Bar on the third floor and exclusive Chicago cocktails infused with Starbucks or Teavana flavors at the fourth-floor bar.

There’s even a station dedicated to whiskey barrel aged coffee where green coffee is put into Knob Creek whiskey barrels, Starbucks partner Shiami Ranasinghe said. 

And as a final nod to the process of coffee, the backstairs feature a five story mural of a coffee harvest by Chicago artist Eulojio Ortega.

While this Roastery is devoted to all aspects of coffee, it’s also a celebration of all things Chicago. The location uses local distilleries for the cocktails and works with Chicago-based chocolatier Uzma Sharif to pair her chocolates with coffee.  

There’s a love letter on the fourth floor of the building with the line: “This Roastery honors all of these years of beautiful coffee in this beautiful city. A shrine to coffee, and a celebration of all we have done and will do here together. Thank you, Chicago.”

Streeterville Walks welcomes newcomers to the area

by Stephanie Racine

Streeterville Walks, a social walking program of Streeterville Neighborhood Advocates, has been around for nearly six years. 

Craig Kaiser, who organizes the walks, started the program as a neighborhood watch endeavor. But he noticed people who came on watch were much more interested in the social aspect, so the walk evolved.

The walk was then focused on hidden gems including public art, architecture, and businesses. Now, Streeterville Walks adds a different angle: welcoming newcomers to the neighborhood.

“We will introduce new people to the highlights of living [in Streeterville], including the usual history, art and architecture but also pointing out the great amenities like groceries, coffee shops, child care, pet care, parks etc.,” Kaiser said.

The first of these neighborhood welcome walks took place on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. The group met at the plaza next to the new Apple Store, on Michigan Avenue, just north of the river. Kaiser figured the recognizable location, plus the surrounding architecture, was a good place to start for newcomers.

New residents come to Streeterville frequently. With schools and hospitals in the area, including Northwestern Law and Northwestern Hospital, there’s a preponderance of newcomers every year. According to Kaiser, more than thirty thousand people live in Streeterville, along with ten thousand dogs.  

On the first walk, Kaiser took note of classic Streeterville lore, mentioning the story of its founder—George Wellington “Cap” Streeter. He also pointed out definitive restaurants in Streeterville, such as Robert’s Pizzeria, Yolk, and Lizzie McNeil’s. He spouted little-known architectural factoids, including the ordinance that Tribune Tower will always have an uninterrupted view of the lake.  

Christian and Janet Silge moved to Streeterville from Lake Forest about six months ago. “We were looking for a way to get to know the neighborhood a bit better,” said Christian Silge. They happened upon the Streeterville Walk on the neighborhood app NextDoor and have been happy with the experience.

“We love the fact that each walk has a different focus and we are always excited to learn some new tidbit of information or some historical significance of a street, building, park, monument, mural, or other artwork” said Silge.

The couple is happy to be more educated about the community and look forward to future walks. “Who knows, maybe we will lead some future walks ourselves,” said Silge.

Kaiser is hoping to partner with real estate agents in the area who sell or rent to newcomers, so they will have an opportunity to go on a walk and learn about the neighborhood, while also meeting their neighbors.

For more information about the Streeterville Walks program, email SNA60611@gmail.com, or join their official Streeterville Neighborhood Advocates Facebook group.

“Drink sir, is a great provoker” Drunk Shakespeare delivers unpredictable laughs

by Doug Rapp

Behind an unmarked door on Wabash Street on a narrow stage, actor Courtney Rikki Green downs four shots of whiskey.

She isn’t fighting stage fright—this is part of the show.

Welcome to Drunk Shakespeare, a self-proclaimed drinking club with a Shakespeare problem. The small troupe performs one of his plays with a twist: one actor is drinking. A lot. 

The chosen actor takes four shots before the show, then two more during the performance in a space modeled to look like a hidden library speakeasy. 

“It’s taking a fresh look at Shakespeare and playing with it and letting people know that it’s approachable,” resident director Kathleen Coombs said.

At two recent performances of Macbeth, Courtney Rikki Green imbibed 12 shots of whiskey throughout the night while playing Macduff, Macbeth’s nemesis.

Drunk Shakespeare mainly sticks to the plot but allows plenty of room for improvisation. The actors, including Elizabeth Rentfro and Chelsea David, faithfully recite monologues while breaking into contemporary songs (Radiohead’s “Creep”), pulling audience members on stage or bringing out a birthday cake for actor Jordan Golding, who played Macbeth.  

Thomas Toles is the host, or “designated plot driver” as he calls it.

“I’m there to keep the story somewhat on track and also enable [the actors] at any moment to be their worst selves,” he said.

Green, for her part, held up remarkably well. She did drink hot sauce on stage, made a puppet do inappropriate things and poke Golding in sensitive areas with props, but returned to form to deliver her lines when needed.

“The alcohol helps so much,” Green said. “I’m into it.”

Before joining Drunk Shakespeare, she said the idea of drinking before a performance was unthinkable.

“Now, I’m like ‘Yes!’ That is how I unlock and unfurl and uncover the best parts of my acting ability,” Green said.

Coombs said alcohol helps the actors’ improv, allowing surprises and discoveries for a unique show each time. It all dovetails with Chicago’s reputation as the mecca of improv.

“I think it’s a really great fit for Chicago,” Coombs said. “We’re a theater town, an improv town and a town that loves drinking and having fun.”

Toles said drinking makes Shakespeare more relatable. High school English teachers have told him they wish they could bring classes to see what makes Shakespeare “so special and interesting and fun.” The show is 21 and over.

The diverse audiences at the frequently sold-out shows are approaching Shakespeare from various angles, Toles said.

“That’s a nice feeling when you get the nerdy Shakespeare fan and the jock from the frat house and they both are invested,” he said. “That’s so cool.”

“It’s a unique beast of a show that is truly unlike anything in Chicago,” Green added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, binge drinking (having 4 or more drinks within 2 hours) has serious health risks such as strokes, liver disease, various cancers plus memory and learning problems (like forgetting lines from MacBeth).

Drunk Shakespeare performs Wednesday through Sunday at 182 N. Wabash Ave. Visit drunkshakespeare.com for showtimes and tickets.

Going green with Circuit ridesharing

By Stephanie Racine

With Mayor Lightfoot’s new proposal on taxing solo rideshares, Circuit is a new viable option.

Circuit is a free and green rideshare company that made their debut in Chicago over the summer. New Eastside is a popular stop. The cars resemble shuttles, with each of the six passengers having their own door. The vehicles are fully electric and are hailed just like other rideshare companies, by using an app. Circuit has almost completed its pilot period in downtown Chicago and is winding down in November, but the company has no plans to leave.

“By no means do we want to leave Chicago. We’d love to be there full time,” said Circuit Co-Founder Alexander Esposito.

Circuit is looking for new ad partners for Chicago, but ideally they’d like to operate in Chicago by working with the city itself.

“We’re hoping to secure a longer-term service agreement with the City, local transit agencies or another local organization,” said Esposito.

In San Diego, there are 22 Circuit cars in operation with around 21,000 rides a month. Chicago’s ridesharing numbers are much larger than that, with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning reporting 286,000 rideshare rides per day. 

Esposito said they want to help with downtown congestion by making Circuit easily accessible at parking garages. They also want to help promote public transportation use.

“If more people could get a ride to the train, I think more people would use public transportation,” Esposito said.

According to Co-Founder James Mirras, there was a trend of Circuit customers using the app to get to and from the Washington/Wells CTA station.

“I was visiting family in the suburbs and used Circuit to get from the Metra to an appointment I had,” said Ana Ayrempour.

Ayrempour was surprised at how smooth the process was, especially with it being a free service.

“It was a quick pickup and the driver was nice,” said Ayrempour.  

Circuit employs drivers full-time and wants to focus on having local people driving their cars. Esposito thinks this helps bring a more comfortable feel to the experience.

“I’ve seen a driver taking time to teach an older woman how to use the app,” Esposito said.

Circuit was started by Esposito and his partner, James Mirras, as a beach shuttle in the Hamptons in New York, and was originally called The Free Ride. Now, Circuit has grown in different cities—both big and small. South Florida, Texas, California, and the Jersey Shore currently have Circuit.

For more information and to download the app, visit thefreeride.com

Run, Naruto, Run: Cosplay event planned around Trump Tower

By Doug Rapp

If you see a group of people wearing shiny headbands and running around Trump Tower, know it was planned.

Called the “Naruto Run Around Every Trump Tower,” the Sunday, Nov. 3 event is hosted by a comedy podcast, Thought Cops, which takes a weekly look at “outrage culture.”

The plan is for attendees to gather at 4 p.m. in cosplay (costume play) as Naruto, the young ninja star of a Japanese manga series, said Kevin Podas, one of the organizers and co-host of Thought Cops. Naruto runs leaning forward, with his arms sticking straight behind him. Participants will then run Naruto-style around Trump Tower at 4:20 p.m.

“This is apolitical,” Podas said. “It’s about coming together. It’s for a good cause.”

People in the cosplay community are at both ends of the political spectrum, he said.

If people see it as a Trump protest, “that’s up for interpretation,” Podas said.

“Most people just want to dress up and run around like cartoons,” he said.

Podas is hoping for a couple hundred participants, using word of mouth and plugging the run on the podcast, co-hosted by Grant Mooney, to boost attendance. Up to 75 people have expressed interest so far, he said.

“I’m grateful that people have taken an interest in anything we do and the fact that people are sharing this is pretty cool,” Podas said.

Another Naruto Run around Trump Tower was organized in 2017. Even though Podas and Mooney didn’t organize it, they filmed a short video of it for their YouTube Channel.

Podas said there was “quite a police presence” near Trump Tower at that event. The run barely started before one participant ran into the street, prompting the police to arrest him and shut down the event.

Podas said, like the 2017 event, they’re hoping to attract college students from DePaul and Columbia who are into Naruto.

“It’s supposed to be fun and funny,” he said. “If anyone can enjoy [Naruto] the way we do, I’m thankful for that.”

Doggie Dips isn’t a party without water and treats

By Mat Cohen

While overlooking companions playing in Bennett Park, dogs enjoyed treats, their own photo booth, a plethora of tennis balls and a warm pool to think about jumping in.

The annual Doggie Dip hosted at One Bennett Park Apartments on Oct. 26 offered much to see and do for dogs and their loved ones.

Out on the fourth floor terrace dogs enjoyed treats, goody bags made by Pawstreet Pets, a photo booth with toys and the main attraction, the pool.

Although the pool didn’t have many takers plunging head first, most of the attention of the four-legged friends was focused squarely on the water.

Owner Michelle Goldberg happily tried to get the pups in for a dip but a paw or two was all that was getting wet. Millie, Goldberg’s 10-month old Portuguese Waterdog, ironically didn’t want to swim.

“We’re having a lot of fun out here trying to get our dog to swim,” she said. “It’s been a really nice event.”

Ann Caron and Carrie McCormick, realtors in Streeterville, helped to put on the event. Pawstreet Pets, a dog walking and pet sitting service in downtown Chicago, also sponsored the event. . They were handing out goody bags featuring doggie towels, snacks that looked like they were for humans and doggie tennis balls.

Costumes were welcome, although only a few dressed up, including a soon-to-be bride.

For more information about Caron, visit https://www.atproperties.com/agents/1325/ann-caron. For more information regarding McCormick, visit https://www.atproperties.com/agents/2617/carrie-mccormick

Learn more about Pawstreet Pets at pawstreetpets.com.

University of Chicago’s outpatient facility set to open early 2020

by Stephanie Racine and Elisa Shoenberger

University of Chicago Medicine will open a state-of-the-art clinic at 355 E. Grand Ave. in Streeterville in early 2020. The 42,000-square-foot center, which encompasses two floors, will house several medical departments. Primary care, urology, cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology, X-ray services, women’s care and other services will be provided in the new facility, as well as extended-hour urgent care.

UChicago Medicine has two other clinics in Streeterville, 150 E. Huron St. and 680 N. Lake Shore Drive. Previously, these locations were home to a multispeciality facility at 150 E. Huron, and a women’s health facility at 680 N. Lake Shore. After the new clinic is constructed, these locations will be consolidated into the new Grand Avenue location. It will be the first clinic outside its Hyde Park campus that can provide immediate care, according to a news release.

“This is in recognition of patients’ growing needs to access quality health care when their physicians’ offices are closed or when they need urgent medical attention that isn’t life threatening,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, dean and executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago.

UChicago Medicine serves the estimated 387,500 people who live in proximity to the new facility, plus the estimated 62,000 residents in UChicago Medicine’s planning area who commute downtown. 

“This $17 million construction project represents a continuation to develop UChicago Medicine’s footprint and reach, increase access and convenience for our patients, and meet the growing demand for health services in the area,” Polonsky said.

For more information about the new facility, visit uchicagomedicine.org.

Musician wins a spot in the heart of New Eastside

by Mat Cohen

In New Eastside’s version of American Idol, there’s no Ryan Seacrest or dimming of lights,

but there is a pretty great deal for the winner. Musician Justin Elliott has reaped the rewards after winning the competition Magellan Development Group puts on each year.

Elliot, a solo artist as well as frontman for the band Honeystone, has been living at the Aqua since the summer in exchange for being the real estate developer’s in-house musician.

The performance venue includes the Drunken Bean Coffee and Wine Bar every Sunday from

10 a.m. to noon.

“I like it, it’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “Sunday morning people are coming before football or after exercising. There’s a lot of traffic and I hope some people stay a little longer than normal because they like what they hear.”

Elliott also played in the park during the summer and throughout the neighborhood in other Magellan Development properties. “I am grateful for Magellan and the whole Lakeshore East community for being so supportive,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work in creating this solo business so I can have events like the Drunken Bean. Same goes for the band, they’re some of my closest friends in the city and it’s been an irreplaceable experience.”

Elliott, originally from Connecticut, moved to Chicago in 2015 with a goal of using music to make a living. He said it took about two years to become financially sustainable.

Creating the band was an integral part of his Chicago success. Honeystone formed in fall 2016 with members David Koslovsky, John Nordquist and Adam Hatcher. The band released a new album at the end of October, but will be splitting when Elliott moves to Charlotte, N.C. in January for “a dream opportunity” and the next challenge in his music career.

But before then he will be playing his guitar and soothing vocals at the Drunken Bean every Sunday through December.

“I’m hoping to soak in the last few months here,” he said. “But I’m also excited to move onwards.” He’s happy with how far he’scome in his career, his time in Chicago and what the community has done for him.

“For this opportunity I am so grateful for how amazing Magellan has been to me,” he said. “Overall, I’m super happy with the fact I’ve been able to make a living off of something I love to do while living in a city that I love.”

Local kids scale walls, shoot hoops as cold weather sets in

by Angela Gagnon

There are plenty of nearby options to help kids stay active as winter approaches.

Lakeshore Sports and Fitness (LSF), 211 N. Stetson Ave., is offering new children’s programming for members and nonmembers. Youth basketball classes, including group and private lessons, are available for kids aged 4 and up. Kids nine months and up can learn to swim, and older kids can hone their skills in the water with swimming lessons in the pool. LSF also has a seven-story indoor climbing wall with climbing lessons for kids aged 6 and up. 

“We want to get everyone excited about working out and being healthy,” said LSF General Manager Jarrett Brown. “We also want to build a sense of community for kids and families in the neighborhood and bring healthy habits home.” 

Besides organized classes, LSF also has a new kids playroom available to all members and their little ones during club hours. According to Brown, the play area provides a safe space for kids to run around and enjoy open play with others. Parents and caregivers are required to stay and supervise their children but it’s a good opportunity to socialize.

For more information on programming and offerings at LSF, contact Jarrett Brown at JarrettB@lakeshoresf.com or call (312) 856-1111. Information is also available at lakeshoresf.com/illinois-center/

To keep kids’ climbing skills sharp during the winter months, there are two indoor climbing wall facilities in Chicago that offer youth programs. 

First Ascent, 108 N. State St., is on the fourth floor of Block 37 and offers age-based progressive programs for kids of all abilities. Their teachings provide a structured approach to help kids become skilled and confident climbers. firstascentclimbing.com/block-37/ 

Brooklyn Boulders, 100 S. Morgan St. in the West Loop, offers kids climbing classes, private youth coaching, climbing teams and Adventure Days on select school holidays. They seek to instill a strong sense of self-confidence, teach problem-solving skills and improve concentration, movement and spatial awareness. brooklynboulders.com/chicago/ 

For those who don’t mind a little chill in the air, Maggie Daley Park’s ice skating ribbon will open mid-November. Kids can have fun exercising while skating on the unique and festive winding ice ribbon. Admission is free, and skate rental is available for a fee in the field house. 

“Parents can model healthy behavior at home,” Brown said. “Encourage kids to be active. Walk through the pedways together, dance, move around, do any type of sporting activity.” 

Or bundle up and head to Lakeshore East Park to run around in the field or enjoy the new playground equipment.

Comedy showcase marks decade in Streeterville

By Doug Rapp

Kanye West’s “Homecoming” boomed through the dark room.

As the lights came up, host Blake Burkhart took the stage riling up the audience of 90 gathered in a back room at Timothy O’Toole’s Pub in Streeterville.

Taking off a beanie to reveal his newly shaved head, Burkhart said he was giving in to his baldness.

“I look like a room temperature John Malkovich,” he said, or even worse, “a young Dr. Phil.”

Burkhart was hosting “Comedians You Should Know,” or “CYSK,” a weekly showcase of Chicago comedians that’s been staged for nearly 12 years. Each Wednesday night, a rotating host and six comedians perform. The venue charges an $8 cover.

“It’s the cream of the crop as far as Chicago comedians go,” said Danny Kallas, one of the founders of the show.

 “CYSK” started in 2008 in Lakeview but moved downtown to its current home base nearly 10 years ago.

 “Our idea was to put on the best standup show we could put on,” Kallas said. “It’s a celebration of Chicago comedians past, present and future.”

 The 90-minute show features touring veterans as well as up-and-comers on the Chicago comedy scene. On a recent Wednesday night, three club headliners performed, including Marty DeRosa, Sean Flannery and Pat Tomasulo. Having more than one headliner on a showcase is rare, Kallas said, but their show attracts top Chicago talent.

Kallas noted many Chicago comedians who have performed at “CYSK” have gone on to national fame, including Hannibal Burress, SNL actor Chris Redd and Cameron Esposito. Over 25 comedy albums have been recorded there as well, Kallas said. The showcase has added weekly shows in New York and LA, making it the only simultaneous comedy show in the three biggest comedy markets.

 Jonah Jurkens, one of the show’s producers, occasionally hosts and performs.

 “We host the best comics in the city,” Jurkens said. “It makes you want to be a better comedian because you’re surrounded by the best.”

Besides the three touring comedians, three local comedians, Ed Towns, Malic White and Gena Gephart, performed that night.

“When you get on this show that’s when you know you’re starting to make your way,” Jurkens said.

Kallas said most people can name a handful of famous comedians but the average Chicagoan doesn’t realize how many great comedians live next door to them. They’re trying to attract more Streeterville residents to show the entertainment available in their neighborhood. 

“Take a chance on Chicago comedy,” he said.

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