News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

The Silver Room

Shop and celebrate local – Hyde Park businesses turn up the romance for Valentine’s Day

Hyde Parkers who want to stay close to home for Valentine’s Day shopping and celebrating will have lots of options on 53rd Street to make it a holiday to remember for their sweethearts.

CARDS/GIFTS/CANDY

Kilwinshas a wide assortment of candy and chocolates perfect for gift-giving. Valentine’s Day specials include chocolate-dipped long stem strawberries – six for $30 and 12 for $55 in milk, dark, or white chocolate. 5226 S. Harper Avenue.

NoteworthyNotesin addition to a selection of Valentine’s Day cards, NoteworthyNotes also has great gift options for everyone on your list, including cookies, socks, books, pillows, candles, and more. The store also offers same-day printing on select personalized items – even if you’ve waited till the last minute, you can look extra thoughtful with a monogrammed cocktail shaker, travel mug, journal, stationery, and more. Personalization is also available with more notice on pens, flashlights, phone cases, and clipboards. 5231 S. Harper Court.

Modern Cooperative look to Modern Cooperative for a selection of unique jewelry and cards for your honey. 1500 E. 53rd Street.

The Silver Room – with a great collection of jewelry, records, t-shirts, backpacks, hats, and sunglasses, you’re sure to find something special for your Valentine. Or consider a gift certificate for The Silver Room’s in-store massage therapist. 1506 E. 53rd Street.

Jojayden – if your beau or male sweetheart has an eye for fashion, you’ll want to check out Jojayden’s custom-made suits and shoes, and accessories including watches, cufflinks, bracelets, belts, socks, and more. 1457 E. 53rd Street.

Sir & Madame – shop for “classic with a twist” clothing, shoes, and accessories from the store’s namesake clothing label. 5225 S. Harper Court.

Freehling Pot and Pan Co. – keep the little ones busy and come home with delicious cupcakes at Freehling Pot and Pan’s free Valentine's Cupcake Decorating Workshop on Saturday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The workshop is for children aged 5 and up accompanied by an adult, with all materials provided. 1365 E. 53rd Street.

DINING

A10 – is offering a Valentine’s Day a la carte menu or Couples Bar Special ($35 for half bottle of Champagne and choice of two snacks). The menu includes a choice of Clam Chowder or Fritto Misto and special dinners for two – “Lady and the Tramp” Squid Ink Bucatini for $30, Whole Roasted Branzino for $45, or 22-ounce Bone-In Ribeye with Lobster and Sweet Potato Hash and Truffle Béarnaise for $65. Specials are available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. Call 773-288-1010 for reservations. 1462 E. 53rd Street.

Chantstop by for a before or after dinner drink on Valentine’s Day. The restaurant is offering drink specials including a PAMA Belvedere Martini for $6.00, a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir for $6.00, and a glass Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne for $8.00, along with a complimentary long-stem tuxedo strawberry dessert. Specials are available from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on February 14. 1509 E. 53rd Street.

Ja’ Grillget the night started with Ja’ Grill’s complimentary rum tasting from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday night, featuring Captain Morgan rums. Guest Host Jeremy Geiger will be sampling Cannon Blast and Loconut rum. Be sure to try the $7 Classic Daiquiri made with Captain Morgan Cannon Blast. All customers with reservations that night will receive a bottle of select bottle of wine or sparkling wine (per couple). 1510 E. Harper Court.

Porkchop – offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $33 per person, including the choice of any appetizer, soup or salad, and 14 different entrées; along with a deep-fried brownie dessert. Entrée options include Southern Fried Chicken, Slow Smoked BBQ Chicken, Blackened Catfish Filet, burgers, ribs, and more. The menu is available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. 1516 E. Harper Court.

The Promontoryenjoy a romantic dinner and a show at The Promontory on Tuesday, February 14. The second floor concert hall will host the “Valentine’s Day Love and Laughter” concert featuring R&B vocalist Michel’le, along with Just Nesh, Da Wild Cat, BLT, and Gemini Porter, while the first-floor restaurant will offer two prix fixe dining specials. Executive chef Andrew Graves will offer two tasting menus with tailored options:

  • 5:30 p.m. Seating - For lovebirds looking to attend the Michel’e concert at 7 p.m., Graves has created a three-course menu with dessert to go for $45. Offerings include Hearth Grilled Asparagus, Boneless Lamb Loin for two, and Pomegranate-Macadamia Cupcakes guests can take upstairs with them to enjoy during the concert. A package ticket including dinner and the concert is also available for $85 per person.
  • 7:30 p.m. Seating - This expanded five-course tasting menu includes two additional courses, including Capital Oysters on the half shell and salmon and mussels with celery root, mustard, confit potato, and tarragon butter. The dinner costs $65 per person with an optional wine pairing available for an additional $25.  

The Promontory will not offer the regular menu or accept walk-ins on February 14; reservations can be made here. 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue.

Yusho – offering a special “Lover's Meal” for $25 per person, featuring an Octopus Takoyaki Steam Bun, BBQ Brisket Ramen, Miso Chocolate Brownie, and a glass of Cava. A Shrimp Skewer ($5) or Lobster Tail ($10) are available as additional options. The special menu is available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. Visit Yusho for your Valentine's Day meal and receive a complimentary Matcha-dusted chocolate to share with your special someone. 1301 E. 53rd Street.

ACTIVITIES

If you and your sweetie like to work out together, Core Power Yoga is hosting special Couples Yoga classes for Valentine's Day. Come by Friday, February 10 for a 6 p.m. class; Saturday, February 11 for a 10:30 a.m. class; or Wednesday, February 15 at 6 a.m. for an "Old Soul Flow" class. If you're both R&B fans stop in for special classes on Sunday, February 12 at 9:30 a.m. or Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. Drop in rate is $25 per person or $22 for UChicago students, faculty, and staff. 1539 E. 53rd Street, Suite 2N.

“Mitigating Evidence” Exhibit at 53rd Street’s CONNECT Gallery

The positive, community spirit of the CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival – the three-day, multi-sited art event that took place November 18-20, 2016 – lives on in a new temporary exhibition space named the CONNECT Gallery, currently located at 1504 E. 53rd Street. The gallery’s current show, “Mitigating Evidence,” is an exhibition of writing and art created by students in the Free Write Arts & Literacy program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Facility.

The exhibit is curated by Free Write staff, Chelsea Ross of Chicago Art Department and Rob McKay of THĒARĒ group and The Silver Room. As explained in the exhibition materials:

 “…‘Mitigating Evidence’ is a strategy to interrupt the presumptions, stereotypes and fears about people in detention, jail, and prison. (It) is a space in which incarcerated artists are reclaiming their artistry, authorship, and, therefore, their humanity. Mitigating evidence is presented in legal proceedings, either to impact the court’s decision or to alleviate harsh sentencing. Presenting a curated selection of work made by Free Write Arts & Literacy students, the exhibition offers community members the opportunity to view a wide range of art and writing, learn about issues of juvenile incarceration in Illinois, and respond to the sociopolitical climate that has given rise to the Prison-Industrial Complex. CONNECT Gallery’s mission is to take intimidation out of the gallery experience by merging community and culture, creating a space that inspires social innovation through art."

The 53rd Street Blog recently met with Ryan Keesling, executive director of Free Write Arts & Literacy and Free Write alumnus, 18-year-old Marshawn Knight, to learn more about the organization and exhibition.

Keesling was a graduate education student at Northwestern in 2000, when he founded the program, originally a part-time literacy project within the Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. In working to improve reading skills with teens left behind in the education system, Keesling found that using the students’ own stories as authentic text versus beginner reading books was inspiring to them, and ultimately led to other components in the program, including creative writing, visual art, music production, and audio recording. In its simplest form, the program uses art as a means of delivering its participants to the next phase of their lives. Keesling explains, “(Creative work) fleshes out the character of the person – it’s a deeper story than just that one bad thing that the person may or may not have done – for the artist themselves and for the public to change the narrative.” He says, “Don’t write anyone off; if they’re given a place to grow and shine, they will.”

In Knight’s case, he doesn’t necessarily want to be a professional writer, but he’s using his writing skills as a tool to express himself – “…to free myself, (and gain) a better understanding of who I am through art – through writing instead of doing negative things, (using expression as) a way to get things out.”

According to the organization’s website, "Each week, Free Write engages approximately 65 youth between the ages of 12 to 24 in a myriad of literacy building and positive youth development programs. Each student keeps a portfolio of their daily progress in tutoring, creative writing, visual art, audio recording and independent work. The Free Write team comprised of board, staff and volunteers engage with court-involved youth year-round, during school and after school." The organization has nine staff members, including five full time workers plus four part-time alumni program members.

Contributions to the Free Write Arts & Literacy program are always welcome, through the sale of anthologies (available at the gallery or The Silver Room), monetary donations, or donation of materials such as composition books, law dictionaries, graphic novels, rhyming dictionaries, or GED/ACT books. More information on ways to support the program can be found here.

The “Mitigating Evidence” exhibit closes on Thursday, February 9, with a reading and discussion featuring Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, author of the acclaimed book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy. The evening begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the reading at 7:15 p.m.

Hours for the space are Tuesday and Thursday 12-3 p.m., Saturday 1-6 p.m., and by appointment by contacting Keesling via email. After this exhibition, the CONNECT Gallery may be moving to another location in Hyde Park, with details to be released soon.

Celebrate the Season with Hyde Park Holly-Day on Saturday, December 10

Hyde Park gets into the holiday spirit with a daylong schedule of family-friendly special events for “Hyde Park Holly-Day” on Saturday, December 10th, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Start the morning off with breakfast with Santa at Einstein Bros. Bagels at 5230 S. Harper Court, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Santa will be available for selfies and posed pictures free of charge; there will not be a professional photographer available, so make sure to bring your camera or phone.

Stay close to Harper Court for the ice carving demonstration from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Ice carving artists from Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures, Inc. will be on site creating an original ice sculpture while you watch.

Four costumed characters – Elsa, Elena of Avalor, Wonder Woman, and Spiderman – will be at Hyde Park businesses from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ready for photos, hugs, and autographs. Meet Elsa at NoteworthyNotes, 5231 S. Harper Court, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and at Kilwins, 5226 S. Harper Avenue, from 12-1 p.m. Wonder Woman will be at Jojayden Shoes, 1457 E. 53rd Street, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and at The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd Street, from 12-1 p.m. Meet Spiderman at The Freehling Pot & Pan Co. at 1365 E. 53rd Street from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and at Pearle Vision, 1200 E. 53rd Street, from 12-1 p.m. Elena of Avalor will be at Toys et Cetera, 1502 E. 55th Street, from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and at Treasure Island, 1526 E. 55th Street, from 12-1 p.m. Many of the participating businesses will be offering special sales while the characters are visiting in the store, so be sure ask the store employees.

As an added treat, everyone is invited to join 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King for an afternoon of caroling from 12-2 p.m., starting in Harper Court - spreading holiday cheer through the gift of song.

If you missed breakfast with Santa, you’ll have your chance to have lunch with him and take pictures at Native Foods, 1518 E. Harper Court, from 12-2 p.m.; and night owls can enjoy cocktails with Santa at Seven Ten Lanes, 1055 E. 55th Street, from 6-8 p.m.

Receive two hours of free parking at the Harper Court Parking Garage from 11/25 through 12/31 – the entrance is located on South Lake Park Avenue just south of the McDonald’s restaurant on 52nd Street. Pull a ticket when entering the garage, and if you park for less than two hours there will not be a charge when exiting.

Be sure to tag all your pictures and videos with #hphollyday to join in all the fun.

Get all the event details and learn more about other Hyde Park holiday activities at downtownhydeparkchicago.com.

53rd Street Hosts First-Ever CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival November 18-20

For the weekend of November 18-20, 2016, Hyde Park’s 53rd Street area will host the CONNECT Hyde Park Art Festival, as mentioned on the event website, “…a three-day, multi-sited arts festival that combines visual + performing art, designed objects, film, music, fashion and literary culture.”

Developed by Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room located at 1506 E. 53rd Street, in partnership with the University of Chicago Commercial Real Estate Operations (CREO) group, the free festival “…provides the opportunity to explore and engage with cutting-edge contemporary art and design by some of Chicago’s leading artists, designers, curators and art institutions.”

“Based on the success of Eric Williams’ Downtown Hyde Park/Silver Room Block Party on 53rd Street this July, we are excited to collaborate on this special cultural event for the community, highlighting the strength of the Hyde Park arts community as well as the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University.

“We have nearly 100 of the city’s finest artists confirmed to participate in CONNECT, including graphic designers, painters, photographers, installation artists, furniture designers, musicians, and more,” said Eric Williams, creator of the event. “This is a great opportunity to showcase Hyde Park and celebrate all forms of art.”

Exhibition sites include the Collaboration Gallery at 1538 E. 53rd Street (near Starbucks), featuring artists and South Side institutions; the Community Gallery at 1520 S. Harper Court (near Native Foods), with “Permanent Record: Chicago Hip Hop Kulture;” the Collective Gallery at 1504 E. 53rd Street (between Modern Cooperative and The Silver Room), highlighting local and emerging artists; and the Creation Gallery at 1465 E. 53rd Street (near Rajun Cajun), with designed objects from fashion to furniture. Additional exhibition venues include the Harper Theater at 5238 S. Harper Avenue, showing the film “Shake the Dust,” produced by Nasir “Nas” Jones, documenting the transformative power of hip hop in Colombia, Cambodia, Uganda, and Yemen; Sir & Madame at 5225 S. Harper Court; The Silver Room at 1506 E. 53rd Street; Modern Cooperative at 1500 E. 53rd Street; A10 Hyde Park at 1462 E. 53rd Street; and Jojayden at 1457 E. 53rd Street.

Local artists are invited to submit their works for possible exhibition by Sunday, November 13. Artists may submit up to five pieces of art from two series of artworks; one published and one unpublished in categories including watercolor, charcoal, photography, graffiti, illustration, graphic design, collage, sculpture, or multimedia. Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of CONNECT Hyde Park curators, and selected artists will be notified via email by Tuesday, November 15, with artwork needed by Thursday, November 17 at the designated gallery space.

The event is garnering local press in the Hyde Park Herald, DNA Chicago, and was named by Time Out Chicago as one of the “9 Art Gallery Exhibitions to See in November.”

Festival hours are Friday, November 18, from 5-10 pm; Saturday, November 19, from 12-10 pm; and Sunday, November 20, from 12-5 pm. There will be an after party on opening night at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, from 10 pm -2 am, featuring jazz great, Kahil El-Zabar, with additional performers to be announced.

Parking is free in the Harper Court garage (entry on South Lake Park Avenue just south of McDonald's) from 5 pm on Friday, November 18 through 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 20 for the duration of the CONNECT event.  Parkers are instructed to pull into the garage as normal, pull a ticket, and as long as they enter and exit between those time periods, it will register as $0 being owed when they show the ticket at exit.

For more information, visit the event website and Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Jojayden Shoes opens on 53rd Street today

A new shoe store is coming to 53rd Street. On Friday, June 24, Jojayden Shoes will have a soft launch opening at 1457 E. 53rd Street from 5-9 p.m. with drinks and appetizers. The store, owned by Schaumburg resident Wale Nubi, will carry Nubi’s branded Jojayden men’s shoe collection and seven other brands of men’s and women’s shoes and accessories – including leather goods such as handbags and wallets, as well as sunglasses, bracelets and wristwatches, socks, and hand-made bow ties. Regular store hours are 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday till Saturday and 11a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday.

We sat down with Nubi to learn more about his business launch in Hyde Park:

Describe your background and how you got interested in fashion, especially shoes and accessories.

“I was born in Nigeria as the fifth of six children and youngest son, and everyone in my family loved fashion. My older brothers lived in London when I was a teenager, and since we all wore the same shoe size, they would send me their designer shoes when they were finished with them. I became known as the ‘shoe guy’ at school because here I was, just a teenager, wearing these expensive, fancy shoes when everyone else was just wearing sneakers. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and business owners. My father owns a hotel, my mother owns a gift store, and all my brothers and sisters have their own businesses, so I caught that same entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. I was formerly an IT consultant for Fortune 500 companies including Siemens and Anixter, but my heart was always in fashion. I started doing research into shoe construction and went to several different countries to see their manufacturing processes – I even went to the Gucci factory in Italy – I wanted to see how their shoes were made and learn the best techniques. My brand name, ‘Jojayden,’ actually comes from my two sons’ names, Jayden, who is almost four years old; and Josiah, who is almost three. Jojayden was a side business for me in the beginning, but once my kids were born, I began to take it much more seriously, growing it into a full-time career.”

What led you to open your new store in Hyde Park?

“Eric Williams, the owner of The Silver Room at 1506 E. 53rd Street, is my good friend, and I used to sell Jojayden shoes in his Wicker Park store. When he moved his store to Hyde Park, I started selling them there as well, and noticed that I was selling twice the number of shoes in the Hyde Park location as I was previously selling on the north side – so I knew there was a market for my product. I was always hanging out in Hyde Park with Eric, and really fell in love with the neighborhood. Eric mentioned that a shoe store would do well in the area, and I started exploring retail leasing options on 53rd Street. In a way, I feel like Hyde Park chose me, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to open my first store.”

What types of products will you be selling?

“Jojayden will carry men’s and women’s shoes and accessories, including handbags, sunglasses, jewelry, socks, hand-made bow ties, and more.”

Why do you think your store will be a good fit in the Hyde Park community?

“My test run at The Silver Room in Hyde Park did very well, and I feel positive that my shoes will reach the right fashion-conscious audience here. I love the energy I see, and the people I meet around 53rd Street. There’s a unique family spirit here from what I have noticed – everyone seems to have everyone’s back – they say, ‘hi’ to you even if they don’t know you. My shoes are unique and hand-made – you can’t find these types of shoes at DSW, Nordstrom, or any of the larger retailers.”

What is your favorite part about being a small business owner?

“I love that I now have the ability to follow my passion and create my own destiny. I feel that you get out what you put into a business, and there’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing people wearing your product and really responding to it in a positive way.”

You offer an option for completely customized shoes – what can you tell us about this process?

“I offer truly customized shoes for my customers. They can come in with a picture and we can make it for them. We also offer a 'build your own shoe' function on our website. Customers can choose the shoe material (calfskin, suede, patent leather, crocodile, or fabric), the toe style, and the type of sole (commando, wedge, rubber, or three types of leather) for a look they won’t find anywhere else. Custom shoes can take six to eight weeks to create, but are often finished sooner.”

Harper Court Summer Music Series returns for 2016 season, starting with Blues & Steppers on Wednesday, May 25

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, will kick off the second year of free, open-air summer concerts, with the Harper Court Summer Music Series, starting May 25. Located in the courtyard area at 5235 S. Harper Court off 53rd Street, the event includes four concerts scheduled for 6 – 9 p.m. on May 25, June 29, July 27, and August 31.

The series begins with Blues & Steppers Night on Wednesday, May 25, with the legendary Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings and DJ Eric “ET” Taylor, a member of the V103 elite mix team. Dance instructor Swan will help you brush up on your dancing skills, so bring a partner and your dancing shoes!

Jazz Night will be the feature on Wednesday, June 29, with jazz drummer sensation Makaya McCraven and his band, including Junius Paul on bass, Justefan on vibes, Matt Gold on guitar, and Marquis Hill on trumpet. Afterward, DJ Duane Powell will play the rarest grooves of jazz, funk, soul, and house music to get the dance floor moving.

Latin music is the theme for July 27, with DJ El Caobo and DJ Kamani Rashad serving up Salsa, Bachata, Meringue, and Kizomba music for an authentic sound experience. Dance instructors will be available, demonstrating the classic moves of these unique dance styles.

The series closes with an Afro-Beat Night on August 31, featuring Africa Hi-Fi, created by DJ Ron Trent and Sonia Hassan. This musical tribute honors Africa’s influence in world music and culture, fusing music and social consciousness with art and dance for a powerful experience.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Harper Court restaurants, and paid parking is available in the Harper Court parking garage, the surface lot on Harper Avenue, as well as on the street.

Harper Court is a mixed-use retail development with businesses including AT&T, Chipotle, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Hyatt Place Hotel, Ja’ Grill, Native Foods, LA Fitness, Nancy Krause Floral Design and Garden Antiques, NoteworthyNotes, Porkchop, Sir & Madame, ULTA Beauty, and VILLA.

For more information about the series, please go to http://harpercourtmusic.com.

Hyde Park businesses give Valentine’s Day couples a reason to celebrate

With Valentine’s Day next Sunday, February 14 – it’s the perfect time to start planning your gifts and celebrations. There will be no lack of romance in Hyde Park with several restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues offering special menus, gifts, and events for couples (and singles!) looking for a memorable holiday and night on the town.

Dining

For couples wanting to celebrate throughout the entire weekend, A10 Hyde Park at 1462 E. 53rd Street, The Promontory at 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, Chant at 1509 E. 53rd Street, and Porkchop at 1516 E. Harper Court are all offering special menus and events from Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 14.

A10 is offering a three-course tasting menu with optional wine pairing, a couple’s bar special, and beverage and brunch specials. The tasting menu is $65 per person with an optional $30 wine pairing and the bar special is $50 per couple with a half bottle of Champagne and choice of snacks. Call 773-288-1010 for reservations.

The Promontory has planned a three-course tasting menu for $45 per person with grilled oysters, strip steak, and chocolate dacquoise dessert. Their special “Cocktail for 2” features fresh strawberries, cream de cacao, vodka, fresh lemon, and sparkling wine for $14. Call 312-801-2100 for reservations.

Chant is featuring a 28-ounce double-cut, heart-shaped rib-eye steak with grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes and Béarnaise sauce, with one complimentary lava cake for $35 per person. After dinner from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., stay and enjoy music by the Chester McSwain Jazz Band on Friday, February 12; and DJ Night House Music on Saturday, February 13.  Call 773-324-1999 for reservations.

Porkchop has created a special Valentine’s Day menu with your choice of appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, and deep-fried brownie dessert for $33 per person. For any singles dining alone, Porkchop is offering 50% off all regularly priced menu items, not including the Valentine’s Day menu. Call 773-493-9333 for reservations.

Ja’ Grill, at 1510 E. Harper Court, is celebrating all day long on Sunday, with a 50% discount on bottles of wine before 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., couples will receive a free bottle of Champagne or wine with entrée orders. For those dining solo after 5 p.m., Ja’ Grill will treat you to a free glass of Champagne, wine, or beer. Click here for more information.

Gifts

Kilwins, at 5226 S. Harper Avenue, is the perfect destination for all your Valentine’s Day sweets. Stop by for chocolate-dipped strawberries, gift baskets, boxed chocolates, chocolate hearts and truffles, and fudge. Shoppers who spend more than $50 will receive a coupon for a complimentary half-pound of fudge on their next visit with purchase, valid from February 15-29.

NoteworthyNotes, at 5231 S. Harper Court, is offering one free greeting card with any three cards purchased in February, as well as a raffle for a gallon container of delicious cookies valued at $40 – the winner will be selected on February 13. Stop in now to order their many items ready for personalization for a truly unique gift, or for procrastinators, the store will be open on Valentine’s Day from 12-5 p.m.

Entertainment

The new Hyde Park improv comedy club, The Revival, at 1160 E. 55th Street, is presenting “Love Is...” – a night of stand up comedy, games and music. “Couples will laugh and singles will mingle! Join your host, Doc Love, and four of Chicago's best comics for a night to remember!” The performance takes place on Sunday, February 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets $10 or $5 with student ID, and can be ordered by phone at 866-811-4111 or online here. If you’re celebrating on Friday or Saturday, The Revival has shows those nights as well – click here for the full calendar of events.

The Silver Room, at 1506 E. 53rd Street, is hosting SoulSessions, a live music open jam, with "no cover and no covers" on Sunday, February 14, from 7-10 p.m.

Don’t miss the Party Noire Valentine’s Day party at The Promontory on Friday, February 14, from 12-6 p.m. with a $10 cover charge. Tickets for the party are available here.

Faces of 53rd Street: Eric Williams

When you meet Eric Williams, the dynamic, creative owner of The Silver Room at 1506 E. 53rd Street in Hyde Park, you might not realize he was originally a finance major and a stockbroker – but that’s exactly how the career of one of Chicago’s most recognized retail entrepreneurs began.

As a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the early 1990s, Williams started selling t-shirts and sunglasses on the street to put himself through school.

A brief stint as a stockbroker turned him off the corporate world, and he started selling his products full-time around town, at street festivals, and in the basement of a Wicker Park boutique, Lit-X. A chance meeting with two New York vendors at Jazz Fest in New Orleans got him started selling silver jewelry, and with no comparable stores in the area, he opened The Silver Room – a hybrid jewelry, art, and apparel shop, as well as art gallery and event space – in 1997 in Wicker Park.

The ever-evolving nature of the store – both in the original Wicker Park location and now in Hyde Park – keeps Williams interested and engaged. He has honed his skills in creating a true neighborhood gathering place, where local musicians play and people want to take classes and spend time – one of the hallmarks of The Silver Room, or “TSR” as fans call it.

We visited Williams in his store to learn more about his continuing involvement in the Hyde Park area:

Q: What led you to move the store to Hyde Park from Wicker Park in 2015?

Williams: My lease was ending, and I was reevaluating whether or not I wanted to commit to another 10 years in Wicker Park. I felt like the neighborhood was changing, and it actually seemed to be losing some of the creativity and excitement that I had been so drawn to years ago. Hyde Park has actually turned out to be a better “fit” for The Silver Room. I get people thanking me for being here, and that is a great feeling. Also, Hyde Park seems to have a less transitory nature than Wicker Park. Many of my customers were born in the Hyde Park area and they are still here today. They bring their families and friends, and The Silver Room has become an extension of their living rooms.

Q: Originally a “pop-up” retail location, you recently signed a five-year lease for The Silver Room on 53rd Street – what factors guided your decision to remain in the Hyde Park community on a more permanent basis?

Williams: I wanted to stay in Hyde Park because I was welcomed by the community and everyone was so happy and excited for me to be here – that’s number one. Our employees are happy, we’re busier here, and it just makes sense from a business perspective. There’s a new energy for me here – something that I really needed.  I like the level of collaboration here with the University, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the South East Chicago Commission, and other groups. I see Hyde Park continuing to grow and grow in the next few years, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Q: How many people does The Silver Room employ? Are any of the employees from Hyde Park or the South Side?

Williams: Right now we have six employees, and four of them are from the South Side. Two of them live in Hyde Park, and the other two live in Bronzeville and South Shore. Two of them worked with me at the Wicker Park location and are happy to have a shorter commute.

Q: What is your favorite thing about 53rd Street?

Williams: The authentic style of my customers in Hyde Park is so inspiring.  I also love the diversity. There's a wide range of ages here that I didn’t see in Wicker Park. Everyone is friendly and welcoming and they really seem to appreciate what the store adds to the community. 

Q: The Silver Room hosts French lessons, salsa dance classes, singles events, art shows, film screenings, spoken word nights, and more. How do you develop the programming for the community gathering aspect of the store?

Williams: I try to plan at least two of my own events each month -– usually an art opening and a spoken word event. Our upcoming art exhibit will launch during Black History Month and feature works by local artists inspired by the legacy of Muhammad Ali.

Many of the other events are dictated by the community. Probably 80 percent is community-driven, in response to what people in the area want to see. For example, right now we are collecting water for Flint, Michigan. We’ve already collected 50 cases of water – and this is all because of an idea from someone in the community. People see The Silver Room as a hub in the neighborhood, and we try to answer everyone’s needs as best as we can.

Q: Your collaboration with the University of Chicago on last year’s successful Harper Court Summer Music Series will be continuing this summer with four new events. What can the neighborhood expect in terms of performers, music styles, etc.?

Williams: Last year’s events included steppers, jazz, and Latin music, and the community really responded well to that mix. This year we’ll do more of the same, and probably add some blues.

Q: What are your favorite hangouts in Hyde Park? Where might people see you in the neighborhood?

Williams: When I’m not at The Silver Room, some of my favorite places are Rajun Cajun, The Promontory, and 57th Street Books.

Q: We’ve heard you even hosted a wedding at The Silver Room last year – how did that come about?

Williams: A long-time customer from the Wicker Park location got his wedding rings in Hyde Park and he really loves the concept of the store. He said he wanted to get married here, so we made it happen. It brought a tear to my eye that he would have one of the most important moments of his life at The Silver Room. It’s a retail store that’s more than just a retail store, and the wedding was one of the highlights of the year for me.

------

"Faces of 53rd Street" is a twice-monthly series that profiles business owners, employees, and shoppers in the 53rd Street retail corridor in Hyde Park. To suggest someone for a future profile, send their name and place of business or contact details to us at 53rd@lists.uchicago.edu.

Season finale of Harper Court Wednesday night Summer Music Series features Jose “Papo” Santiago with Bossa Tres on September 30

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, is hosting the season finale of the open-air summer music series in the courtyard area at Harper Court at 5235 S. Harper Court just off 53rd Street.

The upcoming event is a Salsa/Brazilian Music Night on September 30, from 6-9 p.m. with Jose “Papo” Santiago and Bossa Tres. Salsa dance instruction led by Roger Noel will take place from 6-6:30 p.m., with Bossa Tres playing from 6:30-7:30 p.m., DJ Kimani Rashaad spinning from 7:30-8 p.m., and Santiago playing from 8-9 p.m.

Santiago, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, studied music at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico before being recruited by bandleader Joe Rodriguez to play baritone saxophone with him in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and New York. Santiago moved to Chicago in the late 1980s, where even as a newcomer, he was soon recognized by the most influential local musicians in the city. He is an expert musician in Afro-Caribbean, jazz, and experimental combinations of forms. In addition to mastering the saxophone, Santiago is an accomplished flutist, vocalist, composer, and bandleader. Santiago released his CD, “Infraverde” in 2012, and the song, “Viva Chicago” became the official theme song of The Latin Street Salsa Congreso 2012.

The Bossa Tres Quintet, who will be performing in the upcoming Hyde Park Jazz Festival, includes Marcos Oliveira, Dill Costa, Bruno Alcalde, Jack Zara, and Luis Ewerling. They bring an authentic taste of Brazil to their live performances in and around Chicago and pride themselves on their heritage and ability to play songs that demonstrate the diversity and intensity of Brazilian music.

The series began with a Steppers Night on July 29 and a Jazz Night on August 26. Each event has had approximately 700 people in attendance, some even bringing candlelit picnics and outdoor furniture, similar to concertgoers at Ravinia.

“The response to the Harper Court Summer Music Series events has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room. “People in the community have really been enjoying the setting in Harper Court, and we’ve seen that the venue is the perfect place to celebrate a summer night with great music, friends, and fun.”

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Harper Court restaurants, and paid parking is available in the Harper Court parking garage, the surface lot on Harper Avenue, as well as on the street.

Harper Court is a mixed-use retail development with businesses including ULTA Beauty, VILLA, AT&T, Chipotle, Nancy Krause Floral Design and Garden Antiques, Red Mango, Native Foods, Porkchop, Ja’ Grill, the Hyatt Place Hotel, and LA Fitness, with Sir & Madame and Einstein Bros. Bagels opening in the near future.

For more information about the series, please go to http://HCmusic.splashthat.com/.

Upcoming Harper Court Wednesday night Summer Music Series features the Kahil El’Zabar Quartet with Corey Wilkes on August 26

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, will host the second event of its open-air summer music series in the courtyard at Harper Court on Wednesday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m.

The upcoming event is a Jazz Night with jazz great Kahil El’Zabar and DJ Duane Powell.

El’Zabar has played with legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, Pharoah Sanders, Neneh Cherry, Nina Simone, Ntozake Shange, David Murray, Nona Hendryx, and Lester Bowie, to name a few, and will be performing with his quartet featuring Denis Winslett on alto saxophone, Junius Paul on bass, and Corey Wilkes on trumpet.

A native of Chicago, El’Zabar is considered by his peers to be one of the most prolific innovators of his generation, with more than 60 well-received projects, numerous international awards as a musician and composer, as well as the scoring of major feature films and theatrical productions. He holds a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Arts from Lake Forest College, and has been an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He served as past chairman for the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), has been a panel member for the National Endowment of the Arts, and the National Task Force on Arts in Education.  He was named “Chicagoan of the Year” in 2006, and was knighted by the Counsel General of France, and christened as a “Chevalier Medal of Letters” in 2014.

Trumpeter Corey Wilkes, also a Chicago native, has established himself as one of the best improvising trumpeters in the modern era. Having the skill and maturity to approach mainstream repertoire of jazz standards with his own unique sensibilities, he combines them with his deep appreciation of hip-hop. Wilkes has played with jazz masters such as Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, James Moody, Kurt Elling, Von Freeman, Greg Osby, Roscoe Mitchell, Marcus Belgrave, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Mulgrew Miller, and many more. It is truly an honor to have this caliber of musicians on the Harper Court stage.

The series began with a Steppers Night on Wednesday, July 29, with approximately 700 people attending, and will close with a Salsa/Brazilian Music Night on September 30, from 6-9 p.m. with Jose “Papo” Santiago and Bossa Tres.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Harper Court restaurants, and paid parking is available in the Harper Court parking garage, the surface lot on Harper Avenue, as well as on street.

Harper Court, located at 5235 S. Harper Court just off 53rd Street, is a mixed-use retail development with businesses including ULTA Beauty, VILLA, AT&T, Chipotle, Nancy Krause Floral Design and Garden Antiques, Red Mango, Native Foods, Porkchop, Ja’ Grill, the Hyatt Place Hotel, and LA Fitness, with Sir & Madame and Einstein Bros. Bagels opening in the near future.

For more information about the series, please go to http://HCmusic.splashthat.com/.

Harper Court to host Wednesday night Summer Music Series, kicking off with DJ Herb Kent on July 29

The University of Chicago, in collaboration with Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, is hosting an open-air summer music series in the courtyard area at Harper Court at 5235 S. Harper Court just off 53rd Street, with three events scheduled for July 29, August 30, and September 30.

The series begins with a Steppers Night on Wednesday, July 29, from 6-9 p.m., hosted by radio legend Herb Kent (The Cool Gent) and DJ Calvin Haynes. Haynes will spin records while Swan provides dance instruction from 6-7:30 p.m. Wallace E. Goode, Jr., president of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, will present Kent, a graduate of Hyde Park High School, with a key to Hyde Park in honor of his 70+ year long radio career and many other accomplishments at 7:30 p.m. Kent will close the event by spinning his favorite “dusties” from 7:40-9 p.m.

The second event is a Jazz Night on Wednesday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m., with jazz great Kahil El’Zabar and DJ Duane Powell. El’Zabar has played with legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, and more, and will be bringing his band with Denis Winslett on alto saxophone, Junius Paul on bass, and Corey Wilkes on trumpet.

The series closes with a Salsa/Brazilian Music Night on September 30, from 6-9 p.m. with Jose “Papo” Santiago and Bossa Tres. Salsa dance instruction led by Roger Noel will take place from 6-6:30 p.m., with Bossa Tres playing from 6:30-7:30 p.m., DJ Kimani Rashaad spinning from 7:30-8 p.m., and Santiago playing from 8-9 p.m.

Since launching The Silver Room on Hyde Park’s 53rd Street in April 2015, Williams has proven to be an inspired creative resource for the neighborhood, and the organization of the summer music series in conjunction with the University of Chicago has been a great opportunity to combine his passion for music with his community event planning skills.

“The 53rd Street area, particularly at Harper Court, has become an epicenter for retail and dining activity, and the courtyard area is a great place for the community to come together, as we’ve seen with the Farmers Market,” said James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “The Harper Court Summer Music Series is a new way for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy this vibrant space, and we’re very excited about it.”

“A big part of my store is the event aspect,” said Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room,“ and I’m really happy to be able to partner with the University to curate these three events for the community. Harper Court is a wonderful resource, and I can’t wait for music lovers and dancers to fully experience it.”

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Harper Court restaurants, and paid parking is available in the Harper Court parking garage, the surface lot on Harper Avenue, as well as on street.

Harper Court is a mixed-use retail development with businesses including ULTA Beauty, VILLA, AT&T, Chipotle, Nancy Krause Floral Design and Garden Antiques, Red Mango, Native Foods, Porkchop, Ja’ Grill, the Hyatt Place Hotel, and LA Fitness, with Sir & Madame and Einstein Bros. Bagels opening in the near future.

For more information about the series, please go to http://HCmusic.splashthat.com/.

 

Ten Hyde Park restaurants to participate in June 9 Dinner Crawl

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Dinner Crawl takes place on Tuesday, June 9.

The annual event features 10 local restaurants including A10 Hyde Park, Chant, Clarke’s Diner, Ja’ Grill, Kilwins, Mellow Yellow Restaurant, Native Foods, Porkchop, Rajun Cajun, and ZBerry Frozen Yogurt & Treats.

The crawl begins at 5:30 pm. starting from The Silver Room, and continues until 9 p.m.

Tickets are $35 each, or $25 when purchased online by June 8 at www.hydeparkchamberchicago.org/crawl.

Spring “First Weekend” on 53rd Street offers discounts, free samples, and fun for UChicago students, April 10 and 11

More than 40 merchants from Hyde Park’s 53rd Street will be celebrating spring as they welcome University of Chicago students back to school with the First Weekend event on Friday and Saturday, April 10 and 11, from 6-11 p.m.

Coordinated as part of the University’s UChicago Local initiative to support businesses on the mid-South Side, the upcoming event includes 16 stores, 22 restaurants, and 5 other local businesses – each offering special sales, samples, discounts, raffles, and events for students with a current UChicago ID.

Some of the event highlights for students include the new pop-up shop Lively Athletics’ (5241 S. Harper Ave.) offer of a pair free Feetures socks for the first 50 female students to have a video gait analysis in the store, the Promontory’s (5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West) free tickets to see blues artist Billy Branch for the first 100 students, Bonne Sante’s (1512 E. 53rd St.) shake and panini samples, new pop-up shop Belle Up Boutique’s (1504 E. 53rd St.) gift of a Chicago map necklace with $50 purchase, The Great Frame Up’s (1418 E. 53rd St.) 30% discount on framing, new pop-up shop The Silver Room’s (1506 E. 53rd St.) 10% discount; Pearle Vision’s (1200 E. 53rd St.) coupon for free single vision lenses, Kimbark Beverage Shoppe’s (1214 E. 53rd St.) free “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” floats for students 21 and over, and more. By popular demand, the Doughnut Vault food truck will be back, parked in front of Nichols Park (1355 E. 53rd St.) both nights until the doughnuts are sold out.

Formerly known as “First Friday,” this is the second time that the quarterly event, coordinated by the University’s commercial real estate team and the Office of Campus and Student Life, has been extended to include Saturday night based on positive merchant and student feedback. With 40+ merchants, this event also has the most merchant participation ever; the January event included more than 30 businesses. UChicago will offer increased shuttle service between 53rd Street and the main Hyde Park campus both nights.

“We’ve heard from both businesses and students that the First Weekend event is a great way to increase awareness of all 53rd Street has to offer,” said James M. Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University. “with more than 40 businesses participating, the weekend should be a positive experience for our local retailers as well as our student community.”

For the full list of participating businesses and offers, students can visit http://firstweekend.splashthat.com/

Spring brings new pop-up shops to 53rd Street

Three new pop-up shops will open on 53rd Street at the beginning of April, joining the area’s growing shopping, dining and entertainment district. Maternity and women’s apparel store Bellē Up Boutique, art gallery and jewelry and clothing retailer The Silver Room, and athletic and lifestyle apparel retailer Lively Athletics are scheduled to open by early April, remaining open until October.

The pop-up shops are part of an initiative by the University of Chicago for apparel and home goods retailers to test their concepts in Hyde Park while offering local residents a variety of new shopping options on a rotating basis. UChicago has been partnering with the City of Chicago and the local community for several years to reinvigorate the 53rd Street commercial corridor.

Recent pop-ups, such as designer clothing boutique Anastasia, vintage women’s apparel store Meadowlark, and candy shop Amy’s Candy Bar, have extended their stay in Hyde Park based on their success in the neighborhood.  Comfort Me; a women’s apparel, gift, and accessories boutique which opened in August 2013; recently relocated to 1508 E. 55th St. in the Hyde Park Shopping Center where it has a long-term lease.

James Hennessy, associate vice president for commercial real estate operations for the University, said the latest pop-ups offer a diversity of retail concepts to Hyde Park shoppers.

“The new businesses are distinct in what they offer—from women’s apparel, fitness apparel and accessories, to custom handmade jewelry, and art—but the business owners all bring a similar passion for community building through their stores and we’re happy to welcome them to 53rd Street,” Hennessy said.

The new stores include:

Bellē Up Boutique, 1504 E. 53rd St.: a Beverly-based maternity boutique owned by South Side mom of two, Jamenda McCoy. In addition to stylish maternity and nursing clothes, Bellē Up features non-maternity apparel, accessories, jewelry, and unique gift items for women.

“My team and I work exceptionally hard to create a one-stop shopping oasis for today's busy women—from boardroom to playroom, “ McCoy said. “I view the new location as a unique opportunity to introduce the women of Hyde Park to our brand, and for us to understand and invest in Hyde Park in the same way we have done in the Beverly and Mt. Greenwood neighborhoods over the past five-and-a-half years. We plan to listen to our Hyde Park clientele and work to make our store a destination that the community can be proud of, enjoy, and will want to keep around for the long-term."

Bellē Up Boutique was named as one of the best local places for maternity clothes in Chicago by Chicago Parent magazine. For discounts and special offers, join the Bellē Up-Hyde Park’s VIP Text Club by texting JUSTBU to 36000.

Lively Athletics, 5241 S. Harper Ave.: an athletic and lifestyle apparel and accessories retailer owned by sisters Kate and Anne Pezalla. Their first location was in Oak Park.

“We opened Lively Athletics with the goal of creating a warm and welcoming environment for women of every level of athleticism.  Our Hyde Park shop will be a great opportunity for us to continue to build that community—and, of course, to fit every woman with the perfect running shoes and perfect sports bra so that she can move with comfort and confidence,” said Anne Pezalla. “We're excited to be part of 53rd street, with its amazing restaurants, cool boutiques, and nearby gyms and studios.” 

“In addition to fun runs from Lively, we look forward to partnering with local running groups, like Hyde Park Runner's Club and Black Girls Run, for special fitness events,” she added.

Lively Athletics was named one of Chicago’s 10 best running shops by Time Out Chicago.

The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St.: a jewelry and clothing shop that features an art gallery space for readings and events. Originally located in Wicker Park, the Hyde Park pop-up will bring owner Eric Williams “… closer to his sister and 100-year-old grandmother who live together on the South Side.”

The Silver Room has co-hosted events at the Currency Exchange Café in the nearby Washington Park neighborhood.

“I’m excited because our new location in Hyde Park will be bringing something to the neighborhood that’s not there currently. In the past, people would have to come north to get The Silver Room experience, and now they’ll have it in their own backyard,” Eric said.

 

DNA Chicago reports The Silver Room coming to 53rd Street

DNAInfo Chicago recently profiled Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room, who will be moving his Wicker Park store to 53rd Street in Hyde Park at the end of March. Similar to its original location, The Silver Room in Hyde Park will feature jewelry and clothing as well as an art gallery, and “will bring (Williams) closer to his sister and 100-year-old grandmother who live together on the South Side.” Williams said, “Right now the University of Chicago neighborhood is making a push for diversity in retail. I feel like my energy is needed there.”

Read the article at http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20150303/wicker-park/silver-room-leaving-wicker-for-hyde-park-says-hood-no-longer-respects-art