New Member Spotlight: Dex Dexign

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Dex Design

Learn a bit more about one of our newest members Dex Dexign & then get in touch, or discover a bit more on the Dex Dexign Directory Listing.

1. Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.  

the Dex

I’m a Designer and DexDexign is a versatile, rock ‘n roll inpired studio that takes people and their business to  the next level. We empower the bold through an edgy style and image guidance to help our customers stand out and find their own look. We offer Branding, Styling and many other design services. We aim to be your one stop studio to all your design needs.

2. Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

Rock’n Roll, Fashion and refined lifestyles are what we are and what we offer.

3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

I’ve learned that if you really want to empower people and stay true to yourself, the money will follow. But money should never be the goal. Also, I’ve learned that you can’t make everything on your own. You need to surround yourself with awesome people.

4. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 

Don’t wait until the right time to start. Start where you are, with what you have, right now.

5. What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 

Styling people, bands and brands to become unique and memorable.

6. What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 

The vibe. It's a creative, young and vibrant place like no other in the city.

7. What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 

Filter Coffee, Santulo’s Pizza and Stan’s Donuts.  Reckless Records also.

8. What kind of people are your customers? 

I like to specialize on musicians, but any person/band or brand who wants to stand out.

9. What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

A front door. 

New Member Spotlight: Balderson & Company

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Balderson Logo

Please give a warm welcome to one of the WPB Chamber's newest members, Balderson & Company. Andrew Balderson is the Owner.

Andrew BaldersonBriefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 
I am Andrew Balderson and I’m the owner of Balderson & Company, a full service accounting & tax practice based in Bucktown.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 
Working with my clients and overcoming challenges with them inspired me to start my own practice.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 
Get as much input as you can from family, friends & advisors. Learn to be flexible from this, because thing can turn out wholly different than you might plan.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
I’ve recently started working with a benchmarking tool that is great for creating a starting point of strategic planning.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 
I’m right at home! I live in Bucktown, which is my favorite neighborhood in Chicago.

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 
Reckless Records, Antique Taco & Lovies are a few of my favorite spots.

What kind of people are your customers? 
My clients are a diverse mix of individuals and business owners. 

You can check out Balderson & Company's Directory Listing for more information, contact information & links.

The Devil in Wicker Park: H. H. Holmes Hits Home

Jack Wangelin - Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Welcome, my name is Travis Kreashko, an amateur historian with hopes to entice your lust for the past.  I am glad to see you’ve survived Halloween. I am new to the area and it being the season of ghouls, ghastly memories, and heinous tricks, I found it only natural to dig up a little dirt on my new neighborhood.  Please, allow your spirit to stay in the haunting place Hallows’ Eve takes you and enjoy a small story from our neighborhood’s history.

Henry Howard Holmes
Dr. Henry Howard Holmes

As I introduced myself to this scenic neighborhood, I was confident that behind the strong character of these buildings lay an enthralling past, one in which we walk by, or over, every minute of our day.  This week our story connects the famed Chicago serial killer, H.H. Holmes, to our Wicker Park neighborhood.  H.H. Holmes, curiously ignored beyond a few well-written accounts of his life, remains Chicago’s most notorious serial killer.  During the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893, Holmes was responsible from anywhere between 27 and 200 deaths.  As the world feasted their eyes on the celebration of life that was the World’s Fair, Holmes stalked various neighborhoods of Chicagoland.  The Englewood “Murder Castle” was Holmes homicidal headquarters that doubled as a hotel for the Fair’s guests.  It was this hotel that Holmes incinerated and stored many of his victims. This ‘castle’ seems to have become as notorious as the killer himself. 

However, as it turns out, Holmes left a trace on our own neighborhood.  Thanks to wonderful Chicago historical websites, it became clear to me that Holmes spent a good amount of his time in our own Wicker Park.  

1513 N Milwaukee from the street
The sight of some sinister past?

Holmes owned a glass bending factory in Wicker Park, thanks to cleverly incompetent book-keeping on Holmes’ part, the exact location is unknown. This glass blowing factory was later to be exposed as a body dump for at least one of Holmes’ victims.[i]  Furthermore, “Mysterious Chicago” blogger Adam Selzer, presents haunting evidence that Holmes may have owned another business in Wicker Park, under the alias of Frank Wilde.

Frank Wilde, agreed by historians to be a secondary personality created by Holmes, owned a business by the name of Frank Wilde’s Fruit and Candy Store.   Selzer’s research shows that the candy shop was listed at 1151 Milwaukee Street, putting the current address at 1513 N. Milwaukee.[ii]

Selzer’s research is supported by Holmes’ own confession to the murder of a candy store employee, Emily Van Tassel in 1892.  Holmes’ states:   “…The location of this store was such that it would have been hazardous to have sent out a large box containing a body, and I therefore buried her remains in the store basement...”[iii]

Although Holmes’ confession was deliberately misleading, and at times seemingly erroneous, it is agreed upon in the historical community that Emily Van Tassel was indeed destroyed by one of Chicago’s most malicious monsters.  Her blood still soaks the streets we today share with one another. As the world looked towards the Midwest for innovations, education and entertainment never before seen, Holmes stalked our neighborhood under the cover of darkness.  

Our neighborhood, stacked with dense, story-telling facades from another time, still shares its history with us each day.  I hope we indulge in our history as we together thrive in the contemporary beauty of Wicker Park.



“Holmes Confesses 27 Murders. The Most Awful Story of Modern Times Told by the Fiend in Human Shape. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, April 12, 1896. Copyright 1896 by WR Hearst and James Elverson, Jr.” A Predatory Mind, accessed November 3, 2014.

Member Spotlight: 105F

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, September 30, 2014
105F Sign

If you haven't yet, swing by the 105F Yoga studios (1344 N. Milwaukee Ave, all the way up the stairs) for the Chicago Summer, any time of year. Their bright, spacious space looks like a great place to pump your endurance production into overdrive. Read on to get a brief introduction to the man who best knows Bikram to be the antidote to "working in skyscraper-world," 105F Director, John Marcoux.

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 

We founded Chicago's first hot yoga studio in 2001 inside of a bodacious old furniture warehouse loft at 1344 N Milwaukee. Originally known as Bikram Yoga Chicago-Wicker Park, 105F offers classes exclusively in a room heated to 105°F and humidified to 40%.  A couple of dozen hot yoga teachers keep it hot 365 days a year.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?

Working in skyscraper-world tasted like poison. Hot yoga was the antidote.

Chicago needed a hot studio.  Wicker Park was our first choice. We started searching at North-Damen-and-Milwaukee and found our landlord in the first hour.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?  

Before opening: find someone who knows what you don't.

Upon opening: default to generosity. Always generosity.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

105F Class

It's a tie.

(1) We just launched a new, Smart60 60-minute version of our original 90-minute series. Student feedback is ideal: a heart-pounding challenge that leaves them feeling euphoric.  We're doubling the number we offer for Fall.

(2) We just welcomed the USA Yoga Champ and two-time World Yoga Championship runner-up Gianna Purcell to our teaching staff.  These laurels hardly even hint at her ability to teach and lift a school full of yogis.  Girl got game.

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

As with leaders and entertainers, neighborhoods achieve greatness through character.  We'd put WPB's scrappy, open energy up against any 'hood in the galaxy.  We have fantastic neighbors, decent street parking, and all kinds of fun to tumble out into after a class. Witnessing the area blossom over the last decade and a half has been like rooting for your favorite team and they keep winning!

What kind of people are your customers? 

All sorts, like the neighborhood.  Definitely a lot of local residents and professionals as well as a slew of people wishing to feel more alive -- the total yoga beginners, the young tattooed crowd, chronic sufferers, runners training for marathons, professional dancers, disabled folk -- some of the best people-watching outside of an airport.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door? 

105F Lobby

A visceral surprise.  The lobby is irrationally spacious. These big ol' Willy Wonka doors open to a 4000 square foot, sun-drenched lobby with plants and art and seating and happy people loitering.  First time visitors enter, halt, survey, and then smile.  When we see that smile, we know our jobs are more than halfway done.

John Marcoux


Incoming Transmission: 826CHI Member Spotlight

Jack Wangelin - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Incoming transmission:826CHI icon


Spy supplyists at The Boring Store have relocated to 1276 N Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, and upon their grand reopening will operate under a new name: The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.
The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. Logo
Behind this clandestine storefront’s grappling hooks, stakeout books, and rubber nose disguises lies an entity unbeknownst to many: 826CHI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write. 826CHI is one of eight chapters across the nation, each boasting a themed retail component and collectively serving more than 30,000 young people each year.

As 826CHI anticipates our 10th year in operation, we aim to set ourselves up for another decade of engaging, innovative programming for Chicago’s students. We’ve been dreaming of expanding our organization’s capacity, quality of service, and impact for years...and now it’s a reality! A trifecta of generosity paved the way for our move toward greatness:

A Buttonhole camera snapped this secret survey of the new store
  • Kendra Curry-Khanna, 826CHI’s Deputy Director, stumbled upon a retail space for rent during her morning work commute—just half a block south of our original location at 1331 N Milwaukee. It features more square footage and lower rent.

  • Chicago’s most saintly landlord, Lee Stansbury, graciously offered to cover the costs of this space’s basic build out to our organization’s needs and preferences—he’s owned the building for 30 years (formerly Diana Shoes) and is deeply committed to the Wicker Park community; and

  • A team of world-class architects and designers from Gensler agreed to devise a Master Plan for our new home—entirely free of cost!

To facilitate this move and the ongoing fortification of our organization, 826CHI has embarked on a Capital Fund: 826CHI Forward. This fund has three phases: BUILD, FURNISH, and FORTIFY, each of which focuses on a necessary aspect of our growth and maturity.

Welcome to the new 826CHI!
Imagine the espionage!

Visitors to our new home will immediately immerse themselves in the story of our work. The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. will feature hands-on exploration into the world of espionage and, simultaneously, tip visitors off to the creative work happening behind the store. Enter our Writing Lab through a secret door and find:

  • Our Exhibition Wall, which showcases our mission to promote project-based learning: Poems to beloved family pets, hand-drawn maps of fantastical worlds, high-schoolers’ essays answering the question, “Who Am I?”’

  • A Parent Nook and Volunteer Hub, complete with ultra-comfortable seating that encourages community-building and informational flyers of all varieties and colors;

  • A traditional front desk, where we will conduct methodical and more sophisticated student and volunteer check-ins, thereby more efficiently collecting data and tracking our successes;

  • A Writing Lab, for both group learning and one-on-one instruction;

  • An additional classroom space, perfect for holding volunteer trainings, meetings, or running more than one program at a time; and

  • A Publishing Center—in addition to churning out more than 3,000 books filled with our students’ writing each year, this space will also allow our students to participate in the physical creation of their books.

826CHI is incredibly grateful for all who have supported this wonderful step forward for our organization—most of all Jessica Statz and her Gensler design team, and Kapil Khanna and the good people at Forum Architecture. These wonderful people are not only kind, enthusiastic, and generous, but inexplicably talented and in-tune with our mission. Before we began to talk of acoustical ceiling tile and secret bookshelves, Gensler held a vision session with our After-School Tutoring & Writing students and volunteers. We learned that our students wanted more quiet, comfortable places to read, splashes of color around the space, and an expanded library. Gensler took these suggestions to heart to create a plan that directly addresses the needs of our programs, desires of our students, and allows the space itself to become a tool for education.

826CHI icon

826CHI is so excited to serve Wicker Park and the surrounding communities for the next 10 years to come, and would love for you to visit us in our new home in the late fall! For more information about 826CHI’s move and Capital Fund, visit To receive intel on our fall 2014 Grand Opening (and otherwise-classified daily exploits), sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, and stalk us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Onward!

Member Spotlight: Nomobo Salon

Jack Wangelin - Friday, September 19, 2014
Nomobo Salon Logo

Please give a warm WPB welcome to the new Salon on the block (Ashland Ave to be specific), Nomobo. We've found out a number of interesting items from the owners, Shelly Wilson & Sam Du Rocher, including their difficulties in opening (the City must approve new salons within 1000ft of another, due to a strip of salons forming a drug ring a few years ago) and how they came to the Name, "NoMo[m]Bo[bs]." You can read through all of their adventures in the long read at Bangstyle

Read on here for the best introduction to Nomobo:

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 

Nomobo is a full service hair salon opened in March 2014 by Shelly Wilson and Samantha Du Rocher who have a collective 20 yrs. experience in the salon industry. We like to focus on doing modern color and cutting techniques to deliver custom results for our clientele.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner? 

Start earlier than you think! Keep the budget flexible.  Not everything has to be done 100% at the beginning.  Its an ongoing process that will take a bit to perfect.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 

Kevin Murphy haircare products! Being a cruelty free and biodegradable product line, we believe that this line is environmentally friendly and gives us that edge that’s necessary for the Wicker Park consumer.

Nomobo ♥ Kevin Murphy Products!

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

WPB is a vibrant neighborhood.  We love that it is a nice centralized location, making it convenient for the average Chicago commuter.  

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without? 

Love the Quimby’s bookstore over on North Ave for their amazing magazine selection. Also, we LOVE Las Palmas, the wonderful Mexican restaurant on North Ave.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

The salon space is modern and industrial yet still warm and inviting.  

Inside Nomobo Looking Out Inside Nomobo Nomobo's Cutting Floor

Member Spotlight: Province

Jack Wangelin - Thursday, September 18, 2014
Province Logo

The Flat Iron Arts Building has recently welcomed a new tennant & brought an aetheral Etsy store to the physical world, as well as its owner, Brad Waters, a space to consult as a professional Career Coach. Please give a warm welcome to Province.

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 

Province Owner Brad

I’m the owner of Province, a new Wicker Park pop-up curiosities shop that sells original artwork, antiques & vintage, natural science specimens, and live plants. Our concept can be described as farm-to-modern home & garden.

Our shop is open three days a week, which allows me time to also focus on my role as professional career coach. I help people clarify their career path and find jobs or start their own businesses. Opening a space in the Flat Iron Arts Building has allowed me to not only launch my new retail concept, but has also given me a physical space where I can offer in-person meetings with local coaching clients outside of regular store hours. Until now I have solely offered phone-based coaching, so this is an exciting new way to offer my services locally. 

My studio is located at 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. #315 in the Flat Iron Arts Building. Hours of operation: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

Many coaching clients who hire me express the fear that they will have to give up on their dreams or interests in order to take a full time job. We discover, over the course of our work together, that there are creative ways to pursue a fulfilling life and career without giving up those parts that feel so important and meaningful.

In my case, it was a lifelong interest in art, antiques, and gardening. I was raised in the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan where my mom established her career as an artist. When I moved to Chicago, she and I gradually developed the Province concept. It allowed me to connect with my rural northern roots in the farm-to-modern concept. Now I’m able to represent her artwork in the city in addition to showcasing my love of indoor gardening and vintage objects. And because I still offer career coaching, I didn’t have to choose one career vs. the other. I forged a creative solution to offer both.

My mom is inspiration for my creative approach to business, plus she’s very much a part of the Province brand. She creates art pieces and scouts vintage objects. We still sell many of the items on Etsy—where Province got its start—and we’ll continue our growth by launching the Province lifestyle brand/blog by the end of the year.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

I’m an entrepreneur at heart. As early as middle school I was recycling metal for cash and collecting antiques for investment. I also founded a pet care company that is still in business years since I sold it. So for me a big part of being a business owner is connecting the business with your heart and your values. Having that kind of connection with your business will inspire you to work hard, maintain discipline, and fight for its success even when times are tough.

Shop Province Arts What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

I absolutely love the variety that Wicker Park and Bucktown offer. We have innovative floral shops like Asrai Garden (just down the block from me!) and an intriguing mix of galleries and businesses in the Flat Iron Building. Excellent coffee and people watching at Wormhole. Biscoff pockets at Stan’s Donuts. Vegetarian sandwiches at Jerry’s. Okay, clearly I love the food in WPB. Oh, and adjustments from Dr. Cohler at Division Chiropractic. She keeps me going…so I can eat more.

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?

Province is a small space with lots of variety. At its core it’s a curiosities shop, so my goal is to inspire wonder and provide natural beauty. There are two underlying themes that influence everything we do at Province: story and consciousness. We want each piece to be able to stand alone on its own merit. In other words, no matter how large or small, it must have an element of beauty, intrigue, provenance, or purpose. To that end, we don’t stock mass produced trinkets or things made of plastic (unless it’s vintage plastic) because those things don’t tell a story and they lack heart & soul. Each of our pieces is handpicked or handmade and therefore enhances the Province brand.Shop Province Elements

The consciousness piece refers to the careful way we curate and create our inventory. Many of our objects are repurposed, refinished, all natural, or otherwise have a durability that makes them a better choice than something from a big box store. From our daily store operations to the items we stock, our decisions consider our impact on the Earth and its future artists. Examples of our rotating stock include: live plant arrangements, vintage enamel kitchenware, antique iron farm gadgets, vintage cabinets and printer’s trays, original paintings, and natural science specimens such as rare minerals & crystals and skeleton assemblage.

Check out photos and connect with us @ProvinceJournal on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

New Member Spotlight: Rooted Self Expression Center

Jack Wangelin - Friday, July 25, 2014
Rooted Self Expression Center Logo 
Shruti Sekhri, founder of Rooted Self Expression Center has concocted a wondrous idea that people need a break from the rigmarole of their busy city life to take a look & explore themselves from a completely new angle. Rooted provides a space for that exploration, focused on centering one's self & retreating from the daily grind.

We had a bit of difficulty understanding it fully before reading about how Shruti decided to step out of the usual 9-5 and found comfort and a better quality of life in self-expression. Read her story for yourself and help Shruti put the finishing touches on her vision by giving to the Rooted Self Expression Kickstarter.

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 
Rooted is a Self Expression Center  that offers experiential classes and workshops using various creative activities and art forms (art, music, dance/movement, acting/improvisation, speaking, and writing) to allow people to connect to themselves and others in a non-judgment, free-to-be-yourself environment.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 
Rooted came about during a personal, dig-deep journey for Shruti Sekhri, its founder. In her own words:
‘Even though I’m a perfection-seeking businesswoman, I took the risk to venture into acting and fell in love with it. It made me feel whole and emotionally connected in a way that was woefully missing in my life. A few months after falling for acting, I had an awful performance and my perfection demons started roaring! I beat myself up and couldn’t sleep all night. It was such a tough experience, that I knew I didn’t want to repeat it again. So I immediately signed up for a week long ‘Living Centered’ program in Nashville.

This program deeply affected me. It was full of experiential activities that helped me see myself. I didn’t get lectured at or have to learn any new philosophy; I just had to trust the process – however it unfolded for me. I was really able to go deep into myself and start to listen to myself like I never had before. I also began connecting to a real desire to help people go deeper in life – honestly, a little selfishly because I want to connect to those people.
All of a sudden, every self-help book, every retreat, every workshop, had a double meaning to me: what it held for me and what it could be for other people. I became fully connected to my pursuit, but had no idea how to put all of this new information into creating something meaningful. Until, one morning when I was very frustrated, I got attached to the idea of blasting techno music. I don’t normally listen to techno, but I went with my instinct, blasted it and started to do yoga. Immediately, I felt relief. I didn’t learn ‘techno yoga’ anywhere; I created it from instinct. I expressed my frustration with music and my physicality and I did it without any expectations of what I should be doing or feeling. It set me free and it immediately made me think of how creative work can do this for others too. The more I thought about it, the more Rooted began to take shape.

I’m telling you this story in the first person because I want you to know that I’m putting my heart and soul out there to be seen through this Center. It won’t be perfect, but I hope that it’s a place where a community of people comes together and lets self-discoveries and self- nurturing run amok.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?
So far, it’s all about having a clear vision and ensuring that it can be communicated clearly. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago? 
Right now, I’m looking for advice.

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
I’m really excited about offering the Rooted Series.  It’s a class that allows participants to form a bond over a 6-week period doing a variety of artistic activities like art, movement, music, writing, and acting/improv.  No one has to know how to do any of it and they will be in the same boat trying to experience the process without judgment and expectations.  

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?
Wicker Park/Bucktown is full of open-minded people who are open to taking care of themselves.  This neighborhood has a vibe of acceptance of all different types of folks – artists, business people, stay at home parents.  I’ve lived here for over 12 years and truly feel connected to the diversity.

What kind of people are your customers?
Rooted is focused on serving adults of any age, any gender, any background. Let’s be clear – you do not have to be an artist or experienced at any art form to feel the richness at Rooted.
This place is for you if you are…
Struggling under the weight of everyone else’s expectations and need some space to be free
Feeling stressed out
Seeking genuine connection
Wanting to be part of a community
Creatively stuck
Feeling stuck in a daily rut and need a change
Looking to explore new ways to get more out of life
Looking to find your path in life – to figure out what you are passionate about
Willing to push yourself out of the comfort zone
Just feeling curious about this place
Wanting to take care of your soul

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
To be accepted as they are… there are no expectations of any skill or putting up any image for the benefit of others. 

Thank you Shruti for taking time to let us learn a bit more about you & your business. We are looking forward to working with you & seeing  you at our upcoming Chamber Events.

New Member Spotlight: Cafe Creme

Jack Wangelin - Thursday, June 26, 2014
Cafe Creme Logo
Cafe Creme Front

Cafe Creme is one of the WPB Chamber's newest members, & having opened their doors less than two weeks ago, we are scheming to create time to go for a visit. Stephan and Nicole Outrequin Quaisser, founders of the LM Restaurant group & operators of Cafe Creme have been kind enough to give us a glimpse into the concept & story behind Cafe Creme.

Visit Cafe Creme at 1721 N Damen Ave. The Cafe Creme bakery is open 7am - 7pm daily; the Cafe, until 3pm, daily.

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself.

Stephan and Nicole founded LM Restaurant group in 2009. What started as a single concept, named after our two children, Luc and Mary, LM Restaurant Group is now the unifying force behind Bistronomic, Brasserie by LM, The Brixton, Cafe Creme, Troquet River North and LM Catering. Our restaurants aim to provide a true French dining experience in Chicago and showcase real French cuisine in an approachable way. 

Cafe Creme is our newest concept. The bakery and café brings freshly made French pastries and baguettes as well as seasonal fare to the Bucktown neighborhood. We’re open 7 days a week serving breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch and offer patrons a unique place to pick up traditional French macarons or to enjoy a sit down meal with friends.

Baguettes & Such
Where did you get the inspiration to open your business? 

Both of us grew up in restaurants. Nicole’s family owned and managed several restaurants in her hometown of Hamburg, Germany and Stephan’s parent’s owned traditional brasseries in Normandy, France where he was born and raised. Both of us made a career out of working in hospitality and after a while opening a place of our own seemed like the right choice. We opened the first restaurant in 2009 and never looked back. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

Don’t panic! But on a serious note, the most important thing we’ve learned as business owners is that each restaurant needs to be a part of the community. Our restaurants are all located in different and very unique Chicago neighborhoods and we make it a priority to be involved and to make sure that the restaurant adapts to the neighborhood. The first thing we do when we open a new concept is to join the Chamber of Commerce-it ensures that we get off on the right foot. 

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering? 
Tasty Tomato Soup

We’re pretty excited about the opening of Cafe Creme. It’s a totally different concept from anything we’ve ever done before, having a retail bakery as well as the cafe. The French pastries and bread coming out of the bakery are truly authentic and very fresh so we’re happy that we can offer that to customers. Also, the food at the cafe is delicious. Our chef, Matt DuBois, put a lot of thought into creating a very approachable and seasonal, French inspired menu. 

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown? 

We’re so excited to be here in the Wicker Park Bucktown neighborhood. The residents and other business owners in the area really make this a great place to be operating a restaurant. We’ve received such a warm welcome from everyone and in the short time we’ve been open we’ve already begun to develop relationships with regulars. We look forward to serving this community for years to come!

Thank you Stephan & Nicole for taking the time to share with us.

All photography by Jason Hinkle 2014

New Member Spotlight: Second City Insider

Jack Wangelin - Tuesday, June 24, 2014
2nd City Insider Logo

Wicker Park has become a proving ground for local start-ups, many of which are pushing various digital marketing tools. One of our very own WPB Members, Second City Insider has breached the bunch with a clean & dead simple customer rewards program. Your customers don't have to deal with an app or lose a punch card & you get full control of you rewards & direct contact to create & maintain return customers.

Francis Kestler has just made the move to open business, so you will likely see him around the neighborhood, checking in with his customers & making sure business is booming. You may also know Francis as BlueJacket Financial, & otherwise as a long time member & supporter of the Chamber. 

We were lucky enough to get a few words from Francis before he had to get back out & hit the pavement:

Briefly describe your business and introduce yourself. 

Our technology designs Loyalty and Mobile rewards for customers on behalf of merchants. With our technology merchants can rewards their customers by getting them to come back more frequently, touch base with customers who haven’t been returned in a while and also generating new businesses. We also do push marketing via text messaging.

Where did you get the inspiration to open your business?

Working with merchants in my area.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a business owner?

You can never get back your time – so make it count!

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in Chicago?

Kind of advice for all businesses, are you looking to save money or make money?  

What product or service of yours are you the most excited about offering?

The push marketing via text messaging as well as no punchcards, apps or QC codes. 

What do you like the most about being located in Wicker Park Bucktown?

I live in the area.

What are the places in Wicker Park Bucktown that you cannot live without?

Nando’s Trattoria, Via Carducci, Leona’s, Joe’s Wine Shop.  Great restaurants and locales.

What kind of people are your customers?

Merchants, all local business merchants 

What can people expect when they walk in your front door?
Great customer service and no pushy sales effort. Either it works or it doesn’t for merchant.

10.  Do you have a great story about your business that you’d like to share?

Recently we installed our first tablet/kiosk in a large restaurant location and they love it.

Do you have any stories of successful cross-promotions that you have done with other local businesses? 

My business just started at beginning of June, so not much cross promotion yet. 

12.  What ways has the Chamber been helpful to building your business?

Contacts and support.

Interested in learing more about 2nd City Insider & how Francis may be able to help you? Look for him to chat at one of our upcoming Chamber Mixers or shoot him an email.

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