News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Autumn Merritt

New Harper Court boutique, Sir & Madame, to host holiday event with KOVAL Distillery and local baker, Justice of the Pies

Sir & Madame, the recently opened Harper Court boutique owned by Hyde Park couple Brian and Autumn Merritt at 5225 S. Harper Court, will be hosting a special holiday event on Sunday, November 22, from 12-4 p.m., teaming with Chicago distiller KOVAL; award-winning local baker, Justice of the Pies; and Always Hungry Chicago, a resource for gourmet food fans to learn more about diverse cuisine “off the beaten path” in the city. Sir & Madame had a pop-up location on 53rd Street in late 2013/early 2014, and their permanent Harper Court location is the culmination of a goal to stay in the neighborhood where the couple grew up and formed a family.

The Merritts collaborated with Maya-Camille Broussard from Justice of the Pies and Chicago’s KOVAL Distillery to create two specialty pies – the "Sir" pie is a KOVAL bourbon-infused pecan pie topped with a rich chocolate sauce, and the "Madame" pie is an apple pie topped with streusel and homemade KOVAL bourbon-infused caramel sauce. Justice of the Pies recently participated in the South Side Pie Challenge, winning first place in the Sweet Potato/Pumpkin category, and second place in the Fruit category.

Merritt commented, “We’re thrilled to be back in Hyde Park with the permanent launch of Sir & Madame, and this event is a great opportunity to work with some of our favorite people and brands. We invite everyone to visit the store to experience our ‘classic with a twist’ design vision.”

Customers may order the limited edition “Sir” and “Madame” pies (or any of the other pies from Justice of the Pies) until Friday, November 20, and the pies will be ready for pickup at the event on Sunday, November 22 – just in time for Thanksgiving. Orders may be placed at http://justiceofthepies.com/.

The event will feature pie slices for purchase, a limited number of special gift bags, and KOVAL bourbon punch.

Hyde Park Natives Set to Open Sir & Madame Pop-up Next Month

Hyde Park natives Autumn and Brian Merritt are coming home, and they’re bringing a new option for apparel shopping with them—at least temporarily. The husband and wife team are owners of Sir & Madame, the upscale Ukrainian Village boutique that offers clothing and accessories for the “urban sophisticate.”

The Merritts are set to open a second location of Sir & Madame in Hyde Park in mid-September. The six-month pop-up store will be located at 1504 East 53rd Street, in a space formerly occupied by Apartment Finders.

To help introduce Hyde Parkers to the store, Autumn recently answered a few questions about the couple's start in retail and their return to 53rd Street.

How did the first Sir & Madame come to be?

Autumn: Two months after Brian and I got married, we decided to go into business together. We opened Solemates, a consignment and sneaker store, and we found our niche with an established set of customers and relationships. That was our ‘in’. Two and a half years into that, we wanted to push forward with a long-lasting brand. That brought us into Ukrainian Village because of the feel of the neighborhood. The opportunity was right for us, and seven years later everything is working out.

Ukrainian Village was the right place then. What makes Hyde Park right for this move?

Autumn: We are Hyde Parkers. Brian and I were both raised in Hyde Park. We went to school at Ray Elementary, where we met. We both went to Kenwood Academy for high school. My parents still live in Hyde Park. My kids even went to daycare in Hyde Park. We live closer to our first Sir & Madame store now, but we consider Hyde Park to be our community.

Do you think this pop-up could turn into a permanent expansion?

Autumn: Yes, that's definitely an option. We're in a great position right now to come to Hyde Park when everything is booming. It's great to witness the growth knowing how it used to be years back. It's amazing and hopefully everything works out, so that we can stay in Hyde Park. We definitely see Hyde Park as a viable market, and I think everyone here can appreciate well-made clothes and accessories.

Do you think your store has the capacity to bring in UChicago students as well as lifelong Hyde Parkers like you and Brian?

Autumn: We certainly hope for both demographics. The store in the Ukrainian Village brings everyone together. We can't picture anything less than that for Hyde Park. We have strong ties with everyone from the University to the high schools in the area.

Do you envision then hiring Hyde Parkers for the store here?

Autumn: Yes. We're all about Hyde Park. We're back on the block.  I’m 30 and Brian is 32. We grew up walking 53rd Street. When we were teenagers, it was the place to be—where all the cool people were. All of that was sort of lost until now, and we want to be a part of bringing that back.