News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

The Red Balloon offers free ice cream today in Hyde Park, launches Story Time

By Rachel Wasielewski

The Red Balloon children’s clothing boutique in Hyde Park will offer free ice cream today to anyone who stops into their new store on 53rd Street from noon to 3 p.m.

An ice cream truck will be parked outside the Red Balloon, and the only requirement is to go into the store to get a ticket.

The Hyde Park Ice Cream Social is the second community-centered event the new store has launched this week. On September 2, Red Balloon began Story Time, where parents are invited to bring in young children for a free story reading.  The store will host two sessions of Story Time every Tuesday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. for 18-month olds to 3-year olds and from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. for ages 4 and older.  

The Red Balloon is located at 1504 E. 53rd Street.

Red Balloon on 53rd Street

Red Balloon pop-up opening on 53rd Street August 1

By Rachel Wasielewski

Children’s apparel retailer The Red Balloon is popping up in Hyde Park just in time for back-to-school shopping.

The Chicago-based boutique is set to open a 1,400-square-foot pop-up shop at 1504 E. 53rd Street in Hyde Park on Friday, August 1. The Red Balloon, named after the acclaimed 1956 French movie, operates two other locations in the Bucktown and Andersonville neighborhoods, selling high-quality clothes, toys, gifts and books for children up to age 16.  The 53rd Street location will target youth between one month and 12 to 14 years old, and will focus more on gift items, with a wide selection of infant and Chicago-themed items along with the store’s signature initial t-shirts.

Owner Jennifer Pope said she was drawn to Hyde Park by the family atmosphere and “great restaurants and shops” available in the neighborhood. She is excited about the potential to extend the six-month pop-up to a longer-term presence in the 53rd Street area.

“The vibrant, family-friendly feel of the Hyde Park community is an ideal fit for the Red Balloon,” Pope said. “I am thrilled with the idea of being part of the community and having the opportunity to meet new kids, hold new babies and toddlers and listen to their silly stories.”

At its two other locations, the Red Balloon is a favorite among parents and children for its merchandise, comfortable and friendly environment and special events such as Storytime. The store is also well-known for its novel gifts, free gift wrapping and handwritten gift cards. All of those features will also be available at the Hyde Park location.

At the grand opening event this Friday, the boutique will offer free treats such as cookies and balloons and will give away free sunglasses with any purchase. The store will be open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The Red Balloon pop-up shop is set to open on 53rd Street August 1, 2014.
The Red Balloon is known for its intial tees.
Among other merchandise, the Red Balloon offers a small selection of classic children's books.

Harper Court sale allows UChicago to ensure continuing community benefits

The University of Chicago has sold the Harper Court mixed-use development at 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue in a deal that allows the University to continue working with a leasing agent to seek the mix of national and locally owned businesses identified by the Hyde Park community as important to the neighborhood.

Read the University's announcement here.

The Promontory opens today

The Promontory restaurant and bar will open for business today, adding a new dining experience to a growing restaurant scene in Hyde Park’s 53rd Street corridor.

The new establishment, at 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, features a “hearth to table” theme and a menu by Chef Jared Wentworth, whose work at Longman & Eagle earned that popular Chicago restaurant a Michelin star. The Promontory, named for Promontory Point in Hyde Park, is the newest concept from Chicago restaurateurs Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, who are also partners in Longman & Eagle.

The restaurant, which joins A10, Porkchop, Native Foods, and Red Mango among new 53rd Street-area eateries, is part of a multiyear effort led by the University of Chicago to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor. The Promontory occupies the south end of the two-story building at 53rd and Lake Park that had been a shuttered Borders bookstore.

“The Promontory is a great addition to Hyde Park and will offer another venue for local community members who have expressed a desire for a variety of dining options,” said James Hennessy, Associate Vice President for Commercial Real Estate Operations for the University.

The restaurant and bar occupy the first floor of the two-story building. Beginning this fall, the Promontory will also offer live musical performances in its second-floor space.  It will feature an eclectic lineup of local and national touring artists, similar to Empty Bottle and Space, two other venues Finkelman and Golden are partners in, respectively.

“Both the Empty Bottle and Space have established themselves as institutions for live music in the Chicago area, and The Promontory will bring that same commitment to the Hyde Park community,” the restaurant’s owners said in a written statement.

The space, which is expected to have capacity for 300 seats, will also serve as a community center, hosting events such as farmers markets and craft fairs.

The hours of operation for the restaurant and bar will be Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

 

The Promontory in Hyde Park. Photo by Justin Anderson.
The Promontory hosted a benefit for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival on June 26, 2014. Photo by Charlie Meyer.
Community members enjoy the Promontory's terrace during the 2014 Hyde Park Jazz Festival benefit. Photo by Charlie Meyer.

53rd Street Shuttle stop moved back to Harper Court

The Harper Court stop for the 53rd Street Express Shuttle for University of Chicago employees and students has been moved back to the east corner of 53rd and Harper Court, effective today.

The stop had been temporarily relocated to 53rd and Blackstone Avenue due to a construction project along E. 53rd Street, and the change had been expected to stay in place through July 28. Progess on the project enabled the Harper Court stop to be restored two weeks early.

For the latest information on the 53rd Street Express Shuttle, visit UChicago's transportation and parking website.

 

UChicago offers free validated parking during construction

The University of Chicago will offer free validated parking at the Harper Court parking garage and surface lot during parking restrictions related to a three-week construction project on E. 53rd Street beginning today, July 7.

UChicago is set to install fiber optic communications cable underneath the street between the Harper Court office building and the Harper Theater Building complex, which will house the Chicago Innovation Exchange. Street parking between S. Lake Park Avenue and S. Blackstone Avenue will be temporarily restricted on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., during the project.

Individuals visiting businesses within that area and parking at Harper Court during parking restrictions can bring their parking ticket to the lobby of Harper Court, 5235 S. Harper Court, to be validated for free parking. The entrance to the Harper Court garage is on the west side of S. Lake Park Avenue, just south of the McDonald’s restaurant. The entrance to the Harper Court surface lot is on the west side of S. Harper Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets.

There will be no parking restrictions on weekends or during non-construction hours on weekdays, and 53rd Street will remain open to two-way traffic during construction. The project is expected to be complete by August 5.

The Chicago Innovation Exchange, UChicago’s new hub for collaboration and business startups, is scheduled to open this fall and is expected to attract more than 100 visitors a day to the 53rd Street corridor, according to John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange.

Change in UChicago 53rd Street Express Shuttle stop July 7 – 28

The Harper Court stop for the University of Chicago’s 53rd Street Express Shuttle for UChicago students and employees will be temporarily relocated to the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Blackstone Avenue from July 7 – July 28.

The three-week change is due to a construction project that will impact traffic on 53rd Street between Lake Park and Blackstone Avenues. The University of Chicago is set to install fiber optic communications cable underneath the street between the Harper Court office building at 5235 S. Harper Court and the two buildings on Harper Avenue that will house the Chicago Innovation Exchange, the University’s new hub for collaboration and business start-ups.

The University will also offer validated, free parking at Harper Court for customers of businesses impacted by parking restrictions during the construction period. Information will be available at Harper Court and affected businesses.

Silver Umbrella expands thrift in Hyde Park

By Lilian Huang

Shoppers looking for bargains in Hyde Park have a new option to consider: the Silver Umbrella thrift store on the corner of 53rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard.

The store, co-owned by sisters Zakiyyah and Shaakira Muhammad, opened in March this year and aims to provide shoppers with a range of new and gently used clothes, furniture and books at low prices. The owners say it also offers an environmentally friendly way to dispose of high-quality, fashionable items no longer in use.

Zakiyyah, who has worked in the fashion industry for over a decade as a sales representative and boutique manager, was inspired to open The Silver Umbrella after observing the lack of stylish budget shops in Hyde Park. The only other similar store in the neighborhood is Encore, a clothing resale store at 1553 E Hyde Park Boulevard.

“Thrift options are non-existent,” Zakiyyah said in a recent interview. “I felt like the South Side really needed a thrift store.”

Zakiyyah described business as being good so far, with University of Chicago students comprising around 30 percent of the customers. She believes one reason for the store's appeal is that it “doesn't look like an ordinary thrift store, but more like a boutique.”

While the clothes, art, and furniture would blend in at a boutique, the prices would not. The highest priced items are furniture, which might run as high as $400. But the shoes or shirts might range from $6 to $14. In terms of overall style, Zakiyyah said, “we try to have something that will appeal not just to one group of people, but to many.”

The store also benefits from its location inside the Del Prado building. Foot traffic in the area is heavy and there is no shortage of walk-in customers.

The Silver Umbrella’s owners hope Hyde Park residents will “stay tuned” for what the future holds. The store’s website is currently under construction, but customers can stay in touch through Facebook.

The Silver Umbrella is located at 5305 S. Hyde Park Boulevard. It is open on Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Rachel Wasielewski contributed to this article.

 

Photos by Rachel Wasielewski

June 24 Hyde Park Dinner Crawl to feature 53rd Street cuisine

Eight restaurants on 53rd Street will offer culinary delights as part of the Hyde Park Dinner Crawl organized by the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

Stops along the Crawl include A10, Chant, Clarke's, Kilwins, Mellow Yellow, Native Foods, Pizza Capri, and Rajun Cajun.

The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24. Tickets are $30 per person in advance or $35 on the day of the Crawl. To purchase tickets online, visit hydeparkchamberchicago.org/crawl.

Hyde Park Dinner Crawl poster

New brochure highlights 53rd Street dining, shopping and entertainment

Options for dining, shopping and recreation in the 53rd Street commercial corridor are highlighted in a new brochure, which will be available at high-traffic locations on the University of Chicago campus, at the Hyatt Place hotel and other locations.

View a PDF of the brochure, or request printed copies to display at your business or other location.