News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Vanille Patisserie

Harper Court’s Vanille Patisserie supports Special Olympics Chicago on National Macaron Day

National Macaron Day is Tuesday, March 20, and Vanille Patisserie is honoring the addictive French cookie and the first day of spring by donating 10 percent of in-store and online sales that day to Special Olympics Chicago.

Stop into any of Vanille’s four patisserie locations (including 5229 S. Harper Court in Hyde Park) on the 20th, and your purchase will benefit Special Olympics Chicago, the organization that offers athletic training and competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities across the city. Special Olympic programming is available in more than 122 Chicago Public Schools throughout the city and in 23 Chicago Park District locations.

“We wanted to honor Special Olympics Chicago during their 50th year serving our city and felt National Macaron Day was a great way to show support for our local athletes,” said Sophie Evanoff, president of Vanille Patisserie. “We challenge Chicagoans to show their support by making a purchase at any of our four locations or order online on March 20,” added Evanoff.

As an added bonus, on National Macaron Day, mention #BreakingDownBarriers at any Vanille location and receive a free macaron. Vanille Patisserie features macarons in 14+ flavors including chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, caramel, coconut, pistachio, coffee, red velvet, hazelnut, Nutella, Cassis, mango passion, rose, lavender, green tea, and strawberry Champagne.

The macaron, made up two small meringue cookies with a flavored filling, was likely created in Italy during the Middle Ages and brought to France in the 16th century by the chefs of Catherine de’ Medici – the first written macaron recipe dates from the 17th century in France. Macaron Day was introduced in 2005 by Pierre Hermé, a famous French pastry chef.

All four Vanille locations will participate in the National Macaron Day celebration: Lincoln Park (2108 N. Clark Street) Lakeview (3243 N. Broadway) Chicago French Market inside Ogilvie Metra Station (131 N. Clinton Avenue) and Hyde Park (5229 S. Harper Court).

Hyde Park businesses get in the Valentine’s Day spirit with special dinners, cocktails, and gifts

Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it on Wednesday, February 14, and with several local restaurants and shops offering special dinner and cocktail menus and romantic gifts, you won’t have to leave Hyde Park to celebrate with your sweetie.

Cocktails & Dining

A10 Hyde Park, 1466 E. 53rd Street – is offering a trio of specials including Duck Three Ways, Charred Shrimp, and a Strawberry Champagne Short Cake. The bar will serve two $10 cocktail specials –  “Butterfly Kisses” (sweetheart candy, Peychaud's bitters, Cava) and “Pink Lady” (London Dry Gin, Applejack, Grenadine), as well as $8 glasses of Cava. For reservations call 773-288-1010.

Chant, 1509 E. 53rd Street – has three great Valentine's Day-themed cocktails for just $5 each, including the Candy-Tini (made with vanilla vodka, rumchata, creamy, and amarula liquor), the Flirt-Tini (made with vanilla vodka, cranberry juice, strawberry liquor, and Champagne), and the Lust (made with cherry vodka, homemade sweet & sour, and cherry juice).

Ja Grill, 1510 E. Harper Court – knows how to turn up the romance with a free bottle of Champagne or wine with dinner. Make your reservations at 773-752-5375

la petite folie, 1504 E. 55th Street – is featuring a three-course prix-fixe Valentine's Day dinner for $45/person with two seatings any time between 5-6:30 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m.

Mellow Yellow, 1508 E. 53rd Street – bring your valentine for fajitas (your choice of steak, chicken, or vegetables) and a dessert crepe with fresh strawberries for $24.99 per couple.

Porkchop, 1516 E. Harper Court – special prix fixe dinner at 5 p.m. for $33 per person, with choice of any appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, and dessert. Choose from southern fried chicken, beef short ribs, and BBQ salmon. For reservations call 773-493-9333.

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue West – has a prix fixe three-course menu for $65 per couple with optional wine pairings for $35 per couple. Share a Crab Louie appetizer, choice of Hearth-Grilled Game Hen Roulade or Branzino, and a flourless chocolate cake.  The Promontory is “…completing the ambiance with old school R&B and soul from our vinyl collection that will put you in the Love Zone.” To reserve your spot call 312-801-2100.


Dearborn Denim, 1504 E. 53rd Street – Happy Valentine's Day from Dearborn Denim! Buy a pair for you & yours, and get $10 off the 2nd pair!

Kilwins, 5226 S. Harper Avenue – treat your sweetheart to a half dozen hand-dipped chocolate covered long-stem strawberries for $30, or one dozen for $57.

Porkchop, 1516 E. Harper Court – for carnivore lovers, consider a bacon rose bouquet, with a dozen “roses” for $40 and a half dozen for $25. Reserve your bouquet at 773-493-9333 24 hours in advance or before 10 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, with pick up starting at 5 p.m.

Vanille Patisserie, 5229 S. Harper Court – It’s sweets for the sweet at Vanille Patisserie, with heart-shaped macarons in raspberry, chocolate, and vanilla in an 8-piece gift box for $16.95 or an 18-piece gift box for $35.00. Or try decorated sugar cookies with French phrases for $4.50. A special gluten-free/nut-free heart-shaped “Desiree” pastry with white chocolate mousse and raspberry cremeux, raspberry jam, and chocolate flourless cake is $6.95.

Vanille Patisserie to host Cake Social on Friday, February 2 and weekly Saturday story time

Harper Court’s Vanille Patisserie, located at 5229 S. Harper Court, is hosting a Cake Social on Friday, February 2, from 4-9 p.m.

The event will feature local DJ SpinDoctor Craig Elliott, free cake samples, cupcake decorating for children, and a “cake walk” every thirty minutes. The patisserie will also award one lucky guest a gift certificate for a custom cake valued at $250. Vanille Patisserie offers seven different cake flavors, including white buttermilk, chocolate, red velvet, carrot, lemon, hazelnut, and banana.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Hyde Park community,” says Sophie Evanoff, president, Vanille Patisserie. “The fun-filled evening is a chance for neighbors to gather, learn more about Vanille and eat some great cake,” adds Evanoff.

Vanille’s “cake walk” is similar to a game of musical chairs. Cake walk participants will walk around in a circle while music plays. When the music stops, the person standing on a designated spot will win a free cake.

The patisserie will also be collecting donations for the 18th Annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge, to be held on Sunday, March 4 at North Avenue Beach.

Starting Saturday, February 3, Vanille will be hosting a weekly Saturday story time from 9:30 until approximately 10:15 a.m. Caregivers and children are invited to the free event, featuring stories read by Vanille employees, and cookie decorating with special themed cookies for each story.

Open since December 1, 2017, the Hyde Park store is Vanille’s fourth location, with additional locations at the Chicago French Market, in Lincoln Park, and in Lakeview.

Local Hyde Park businesses to participate in Chicago Reader's "Made in Chicago Market" on Sunday, December 3

The University of Chicago Commercial Real Estate Operations group is partnering with the Chicago Reader as a sponsor of the Made in Chicago Market, a holiday market to be held Sunday, December 3, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Plumber’s Hall, 1340 W. Washington Boulevard.

The annual holiday event typically attracts approximately 2,000 people, and eight Hyde Park businesses will take over the entire balcony of the space as a dedicated “Hyde Park Village.” The market is… “a fun celebration of all things DIY—showcasing some of the best apparel, housewares, and food and drink that Chicago has to offer! Shop local and support your neighborhood makers.” Admission and parking are free.

Participating shops and restaurants will include BBQ Supply Co., 1301 E. 53rd Street, with house-made bottled barbecue sauce; Dearborn Denim & Apparel, 1504 E. 53rd Street, with “made in Chicago” jeans and belts; Jojayden, 1457 E. 53rd Street, with custom apparel and shoes for men; Modern Cooperative, 1500 E. 53rd Street, with jewelry and decorative gift items; The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, with information about the restaurant/bar and upcoming shows and events; The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd Street, with jewelry and clothing for men and women; Sir & Madame, 5225 S. Harper Court, with their Hyde Park-based clothing line for men and women; and Vanille Patisserie, 5229 S. Harper Court, with packaged holiday cookies and candies. The Hyde Park balcony space will feature a free photo booth for shoppers to get in the spirit and take home a souvenir holiday photograph. A10 Hyde Park is providing food and drink sales at the event, and as an added attraction, a DJ from The Promontory will be spinning records throughout the day.

Tiffany Paige, co-owner of Modern Cooperative, commented, “Participating in the Made in Chicago Market is a great way to reach people throughout the city and let them know about all the creative, independent shops here in Hyde Park.”

“We’re proud of our local businesses and are excited about the opportunity to introduce them to a wider Chicago audience,” said Aaron Bartels, Executive Director of Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University. “There’s so much going on in Hyde Park in terms of new retail, dining, and entertainment options, and we hope shoppers at the market will be inspired to explore the area for themselves.”

Vanille Patisserie’s Grand Opening Weekend announced for December 1-3, 2017

Harper Court’s Vanille Patisserie officially opens its new Hyde Park location at 5229 S. Harper Court on Friday, December 1 at 10:30 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and special events and offers all weekend long.

With three existing locations in Chicago including 131 N. Clinton at the Chicago French Market in the West Loop, 2108 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, and 3243 N. Broadway in Lakeview, the expansion to Harper Court brings an authentic French patisserie experience to the Hyde Park community. Vanille Patisserie has been recognized by TimeOut magazine as one of the “16 Best Bakeries” in America.

Offerings include French pastries, signature cakes, macarons, petit fours, sweet and savory croissants, and candies. The patisserie also designs custom wedding cakes and offers catering for breakfast, lunch, and dessert.

Grand opening events include a drawing to win one 24-piece gift box of French macarons each month for one year, as well as free product samples, $1 coffee with a purchase, and other offers. To celebrate the opening of the Hyde Park store, Vanille will hold the Golden Macaron Contest at all four locations from December 1-3. Patrons are invited to visit the store and potentially find one of the ten Golden Macaron to win a $100 gift certificate. A $10 minimum purchase is required, with winners at all locations. Vanille is also participating in the Hyde Park Holly-Day event on Saturday, December 2, with free drop-in cookie decorating from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; no reservations required.

December is an especially tantalizing month at the patisserie, with French-inspired desserts including traditional and modern Buche de Noel in a wide variety of traditional and new flavors; petit fours, holiday cookie, and signature macaron trays; and hot chocolate mix with Vanille house-made marshmallows – perfect for last minute hostess gifts. All Vanille Patisserie locations will offer a 10% discount on holiday pre-orders made during the grand opening weekend – consider ordering the special Galette des Rois (King’s Cake), available for pick up December 24 through the end of January.

“We are delighted to open our fourth location and are excited to bring Vanille pastries and desserts to Hyde Park,” said Sophie Evanoff, President, Vanille Patisserie. “We invite customers to relax in our cozy Harper Court cafe savoring the moment to experience our high-quality, French-inspired menu featuring freshly made artisanal French pastries and cakes.”

Evanoff, a classically trained pastry chef from Chicago’s French Pastry School, has been honored with the 2016 Chicagoland Chamber of Business James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award, the first female small business owner to receive the honor. A dedicated and active entrepreneur, Evanoff is also an alumna from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program.

“Vanille Patisserie will bring a distinctive, new amenity to Hyde Park,” said Aaron Bartels, Executive Director of Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University. “Local residents will be able to enjoy both morning pastries and custom-created desserts prepared by classically trained French pastry chefs without leaving the mid-South Side.”

The Harper Court location hours are Sunday-Thursday from 7 a.m – 8 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 9 p.m.

UChicago Local to host Hyde Park Hiring Fair on Tuesday, August 1, from 12- 4 p.m. at Harper Court

Several new restaurants and shops are slated to open in Hyde Park in the coming months, and they will be looking for workers.

UChicago Local, in partnership with 4th Ward Alderman Sophia King and 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, will host a local hiring fair on Tuesday, August 1, from 12-4 p.m. at Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Court, in the 11th Floor Conference Center.

Candidates will meet hiring representatives from Akira, Aloha Poké Co., Bergstein's NY Delicatessen, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Nella Pizza e Pasta, The Promontory, Té Amo Boba Bar, Treasure Island Foods, Vanille Patisserie, and other Hyde Park businesses.

The businesses are interested in workers with a variety of experience levels for retail/cashier, restaurant (front and back of house), administrative, and management positions.

“Staffing locally is a great way for businesses to truly become a part of the Hyde Park community, and this hiring event will be an opportunity for the many restaurants and shops to connect with talented candidates,” said Alyssa Berman-Cutler, director of Community Economic Development Initiatives in the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement.

Benjamin Rogers, manager at The Promontory, agrees. “We feel fortunate to have such a great local talent base and look forward to meeting more candidates to keep up with our growing hiring demand,” he said.

Job applicants who attend the event will receive validation for two hours of free parking at the Harper Court parking garage. The entrance is on S. Lake Park Avenue just south of McDonald’s. (A fee will be charged for more than two hours.)

Harper Court is also conveniently located near public transportation (Metra Electric to the 53rd Street Station or the 192 CTA bus). Street parking is also available.

For more information and to RSVP to the event, go to