Posts tagged: Lincoln Park

Uncovering Pawsh Puppies and Other Lincoln Park Secrets With Jenn and Molly

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By , January 26, 2010 2:00 pm
Learning about Lincoln Park from Jenn...

Learning about Lincoln Park from Jenn...

Funsherpa goes back to where it all began, in Lincoln Park.  Lucky enough to catch a cup of coffee with the lively bloggers behind Lincoln Park Now, I not only discover the secrets of the Lincoln Park Trixie, but also find out about issues that matter to local residents.  Sitting down with Jenn and Molly was awesome and enlightening – read on to discover more about Pawsh Puppies and other interesting things about Lincoln Park.

F: Seems like a great idea to blog about a popular neighborhood in Chicago. How did this blog start?

...and Molly

...and Molly

J: It started when Chicago Now had this push to create hyper local blogs and we were chosen to setup the first one, Lincoln Park Now. We think this is a really great idea because right now, you see a lot of international news or national level news online, but nothing really related to what is going on in your local neighborhood. With our blog, we can let people know about local businesses and provide them with a venue to connect with their neighbors.
M: In addition to that, I believe our role really comes in 3 parts. One part is curation – we scour news resources looking for Lincoln Park mentions and package it into a way that makes it interesting to our readers. The other part of this blog focuses on connecting people, and generating interest from the community. We want our readers to react and share their own viewpoints on what we report. The third part is coming up with our own reporting, with Jenn and I looking for interesting topics and investigating the ins and outs of the story.

F: Do you find a certain type of person responding to local news?
M: When we hit on a special issue that resonates with the residents of Lincoln Park, we definitely see a lot of conversation. People who are very vocal include animal lovers and followers of Democratic politics. There is a very vibrant local political scene that connects to issues at the national level. An interesting fact to note is that President Obama got more donations from Lincoln Park than any other neighborhood in Illinois!

F: What’s the most popular story you’ve written?
J:Definitely the story about Pawsh Puppies . They currently have a defamation lawsuit against a group of protesters who are strongly against their business. We found out about them through a Twitter mention, found all these horrible things written about them online, and saw comment wars posted on sites such as Yelp. After seeing all the nasty stuff written about them online, we decided to call them up to get their side of the story. They told us that they don’t use puppy mills and get all their puppies through reputable breeders; unfortunately, the protesters don’t see it that way. So surprisingly, this issue is extremely divisive.
M: This movement is really gaining momentum – especially with Oprah highlighting the issue and the local politicians passing legislation against puppy mills.

F: What are some of the secrets of LP?
J: Savor the Flavor is one of them (where we meet up)! One interesting thing that has sort of quieted down is the Lincoln Park Trixie Society, which is a stereotype of the Lincoln Park women – these are women who stroll around the neighborhood, wear large sunglasses, drive Jettas, have designer handbags, and carry a cup of Starbucks wherever they go. Also, the Lincoln Hall venue just opened and there is a great music scene there. A lot of independent bands and local hometown favorites are starting to perform there.
M: I’d say Clark St is one of them as it has the most independent businesses than any other place. While Whole Foods isn’t a really big secret, there’s a lot of things that go on in that space. A lot of Twitter conversations usually revolve around the type of people that shop at the Whole Foods on North Avenue. The Farmer’s Market is a big deal here in Lincoln Park, a year round farmer’s market and definitely the most popular one in Chicago.

F: Do you girls ever fight with each other?
J: No, the working relationship is great and we help each other out a lot. Molly is the politics expert and I usually defer that angle in our posts to her.
M: Actually, we were so relieved that we ended writing this blog with each other. If one of us is down, the other one is always there to help out.

F: Do you have any advice for people moving into LP?
M: Take advantage of the free opportunities at Lincoln Park, this neighborhood can be pricey, but there are a lot of free things you can do here. Events at the zoo, yoga at the butterfly museum, and the great bike paths out there. The zoo is doing such a great job at planning weekly and special events, so definitely checkout the zoo!

F: Not to be blasphemous but what other neighborhoods in Chicago do you enjoy?
J: Oh wow, Chicago is so great because of all the diverse neighborhoods. I like Lakeview, Andersonville, Wicker Park.
M: Edgewater, big time, and Wicker Park. Edgewater is really the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago.

Secrets of the Empanada, all the way from Colombia

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By , August 3, 2009 8:00 am

Carlos Escalantes offers his empanadas

Carlos Escalantes offers his ingenious empanadas

Who doesn’t love empanadas?  Certainly not someone who has discovered Lito’s Empanadas, a well-kept secret on Clark St. Empanada-expert Carlos Escalante earned his degree in business administration in Colombia and worked as a plant manager in Ohio before launching Lito’s two years ago.  He took the time to talk with Funsherpa about South American food, Colombian slang, and, of course, his unusual empanadas...


F: What is about an empanada? Why did you decide to build a business around it?

Well I’m from Colombia, where empanadas are really popular. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and knew empanadas could be a good idea. When I moved here I didn’t have enough money; I didn’t have the credit history to just apply for a loan. Around 2006 I started making them for my wife’s family – she’s from Wisconsin – and for my friends here. People liked them, so one day we said, “Why don’t we open an empanada place?” It took me seven years, but we finally opened in 2007.

An Awesome Empanada

An Awesome Empanada

F: What do you think of Chicago’s South American cuisine?

I’ve been to a couple of Colombian places like Las Tablas, and they are really good! But there wasn’t a take-out place like this in Chicago-

F: What is your favorite empanada?

That’s a tough one: I would have to choose between a few. We just have ten, but I love the Hawaiian one.

(We do too.)

F: If you could add another empanada to the menu of ten, what would it be?

I’m actually working on it right now!  I want to add one with shrimp and another with chorizo. There are so many things you can put in an empanada-

F: You said empanadas are popular in Colombia – are they usually associated with a particular meal? Or can they eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? (We hope so)

Where I come from, they are really popular for breakfast.  Some places are only open from 6am until 8 or 9 when they sell out, and then they are done for the day. That’s just for breakfast.

It’s not popular for lunch. Later in the day, that’s when people start looking for empanadas…

F: What is the most empanadas you’ve seen anyone eat in one sitting?

Six.

(Can’t say we blame them)

F: What other cuisine do you enjoy around Chicago?

I love hamburgers – that’s my favorite American dish. I’m happy at any place that has hamburgers.

F: We heard you previously worked in the auto industry – what made you decide to open a restaurant?

I was the plant manager for an auto-parts plant for five years: I started in Toledo, Ohio back in 2000. The owner decided to open a shop here in Chicago, and he gave me the opportunity to move here and be plant manager. So yeah, I was doing something totally different.

F: Why did you decide to move from Colombia to Chicago?

I finished a degree in business administration in Colombia in December 1999, and I had a friend living in Toledo, Ohio. I didn’t have many options in my country, so he said, “Well, why don’t you come up here and see what you can find?” I came to Toledo and ten days later met the owner of the auto-parts supplier in church. At the time, he was just looking for someone to sweep the floors, take the garbage out, load and unload trucks – I eventually showed him I could help manage people and assembly lines.

A year later he decided to expand  to Chicago. By that time, I was bored, frustrated, and thinking of going back to Colombia. Toledo, Ohio is a really small town with not many things to do.  So it was good timing when he said, “Well do you want to move to Chicago?”

F: Why did you choose to stay in Chicago and start a business here?

I love this city. They have everything here, and it’s not that expensive to live in, if you’re smart. I don’t complain about the winters much; it’s nice having four seasons – you just have to enjoy them.

F: What is your favorite Colombian Slang expression?

‘Tenaz’ – I don’t even think it’s in the dictionary, but we use it a lot in Colombia. When you’ve been in a tough situation, you say, “Tenaz!”

F: What is the rough English translation of “tenaz”?

When you say, “Really?!” [incredulously]

F: What is the future of Lito’s Empanadas? Any expansion plans?

Yeah!  When we decided we wanted to open, the first step was just to find a place. We found a place; we signed a lease; and that means you have to do it. To open the shop was really tough; to keep it running – that’s another thing. Now that it’s running, I have to go and find the next one…

Revealing the Behind the Scenes Artist

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By , May 6, 2009 4:12 pm

Vanessa poses for Peter McCain

Vanessa poses for Peter McCain

Vanessa Conway is somewhat of an artist extraordinaire who lives in Lincoln Park. When WE sat down to chat with her at the Nobletree Café, she pretty much created a modern sculpture out of napkins that were lying on the table. Vanessa started her art career when she created her first abstract painting at age 3, formalized it at The Theatre of DePaul University, and is finally living it in the art/casting department of various films and plays, including Batman’s The Dark Night, As Told by the Vivian Girls, and Rock n Roll. Outside of the art world, she reads lots of blogs – apparently, Nutrionista is her favorite (we are trying to convince her to read ours!). If you see a purple bike with a helmet painted like crazy, it’s probably Vanessa – honk or say hi.

We have always been curious about the way an artist’s mind works…so we asked her to complete a few sentences for us.
Growing up around Chicago was like being a kid in a brilliantly designed candy store, except with salt, sugar, and some soy sauce.

The best part of being involved in the art world is that you never know where the wind will take you, and you get inspired easily and by pretty much everyone in your life.

Art is my passion, but sometimes the real world comes a callin’ and wish I could get a steady paycheck sort of like back in the days of the WPA‘s Federal Art Project, which supported artists like Jackson Pollock.

My job takes me all over the city and the two places I think everyone should visit at least once are “Textile Discount Outlet” and American Science and Surplus because you just never know when you will need a sequined platypus appliqué or a box of glow-in-the-dark bones.

This one time, in art camp, I dressed up as a hippie for a themed day and a picture was snapped and published in the local paper. However, the other three people were not dressed as hippies and I looked like a major doofus!

I am currently working on a music video, and the coolest thing about it is seeing how insanely kind and hardcore the girls from the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby League are and/or I got to work with somebody named Queefer Sutherland.

The easiest thing I created was a twenty five foot cherry blossom tree essentially constructed out of cardboard and coffee filters, but it took me years to perfect cutting/painting/drawing a truly straight line.

Vanessa’s favorite things in Chicago…
If brunch lines weren’t so long, I would go to Orange for frushi, Hot Chocolate, and Victory‘s Banner. I would live only on brunch.

When I want to venture out with my bike, I take the lakefront path to Millennium Park or Grant Park for a free concert, if I am on CTA mode, I check out the Garfield Park Conservatory.

My favorite galleries at the Art Institute are Thorne Miniature Rooms and the Modern Wing. If you find a flavorful untitled installation by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, your admission would pay for itself many times over.

If the Art Institute were closed for a week, I would cry my way to the Mexican Fine Arts Center, the MCA, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Columbia College Image Library, or the Newberry Library.

On a snowy/rainy day, I must see double features at Landmark Cinema, Pipers Alley, the Music Box or the Siskel Film Center and go see the NeoFuturist’s Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind at least once a year.

If Alinea weren’t so expensive, I’d be there everyday and eat everything and anything they offer, instead I just go to Cafe Iberico.

I enjoy going to Nobletree Café and the Hideout because their music playlist is magical.

My New Year’s resolution was to give up cupcakes, so I go to these places for my sweet fix: Peet‘s for an almond croissant and the best vanilla latte in Chicago, and Margie’s for the Royal George (with a slew of friends of course)!

I was really sad when the art store closed down, but happy that Dick Blick opened up instead.

When it is sunny, I try to do nothing but bask in it and get all my friends to do the same, preferably in somebody’s backyard/deck/patio/boat/rooftop with a barbecue and maybe a frisbee.

Photo courtesy of Peter McCain

Where are the Windy City Med Students?

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By , May 4, 2009 4:07 pm

Becky's art portrait

Becky the Med Student

BECKY: A Northwestern med school student, Becky is respected for having left Chicago for California, and actually coming back. Having grown up in the suburbs, Becky doesn’t really know how she survived without her favorite coffee shop being a few blocks away. She is looking forward to becoming a doctor, joining the battle against cancer and not having to deal with swine flu. Becky currently lives in Lincoln Park. When not memorizing the 200 different parts of the human arm, she listens to (honestly?) lectures at Bourgeois Pig in Lincoln Park.

8 questions never asked about me:
Favorite TV shows as listed on Facebook: Facebook and I are currently having a troubled relationship. I don’t have any listed.

Favorite TV shows that are not listed on Facebook: The Daily Show is my most consistent favorite; just started getting into Arrested Development on DVD… before that I went through a Nip/Tuck phase (love it)

My neighbors think I am perhaps a little eccentric because when I’m home I blast music that ranges from opera classics to Energy 92.7 to indie rock to Latin pop… (ok maybe they just think I am a gay man) but it snowed one day, so now everything is ok.

When I was growing up, I thought I should be an actress so I could “act out” any career and never really have to decide, but then said to hell it with and went to med school and realized that being a doctor (or at least a med student) involves a lot of “acting” after all…

Brand of my scrubs: the only ones I currently own (as a 2nd year) say “Property of UCSF” – I probably should return them.

Footwear most commonly associated with my scrubs: tennis shoes… although I think I’m going to take the plunge and buy some sexy Dansko clogs

Med school has taught me how to perform old-fashioned physical exam techniques that are apparently obsolete in most contemporary medical practices, while life has continued to march on.

If I saw swine flu in my backyard, I would: wonder if swine flu will be on my boards exam this summer even though it just broke out…

Things I like and am passionate about…
Every time I need sugar, I go for fruit snacks, Red Vines, or my all-time favorite, gummy candy!!! When in need of more sugar, I (that usually does it… usually can’t eat again for hours after all that gelatin). In a worst case scenario sugar craving, I inject myself with glucose.

Best place to work out is BODYPUMP at Lincoln Park Athletic Club. Worst place to work out is a gym that doesn’t have BodyPump.

There are too many guys in charge of countries—there would be less war if women were in charge (but maybe more gossip). There are too many girls in uncomfortable shoes.

Favorite restaurant in the city so many… Greek Islands, Reza’s, Lou Mitchell’s to eat quality food in a festive atmosphere.

When I lose my wallet and only have $5 to buy a meal, I go to: Sultan’s Market, but hate it when I find out my $5 is actually a $1.

Shops that I wish were outside my apartment: Art Effect, the MCA store, Sew Bettie, Lululemon, and Trader Joe’s.

I wish people would protest these issues outside my apartment: global inequality… although maybe not right outside my apartment. Except before 10am.

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