I stopped by the grand opening of A’ville’s newest grocery and retail destination, Urban Orchard (at 5212 North Clark Street, the old Urbanest space) last weekend, and it was a bustling scene. High-energy reps were sampling locally produced salsas and gelatos, a caffeinated group of people was waiting for their Metropolis Coffee fix, and shelves were stocked with Midwestern-farmed fresh produce and handmade foodstuffs such as pastas, pierogies, sauces, and baked goods. Owners Jim Machniak and Eric Mazzone have also harvested a nicely curated selection of home products, such as an attractively priced collection of wooden cutting boards and cheese boards, patched together from hardwoods by Michigan woodworker Rex Kessler. Everything in the store is responsibly farmed and produced, and when the men open their second location (on Milwaukee Avenue between Huron and Erie, with a commercial kitchen) later next month, they plan to introduce a menu of premade sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. That’ll be a nice move, to get people to sit in the handsomely furnished café area that currently looks a little vacant. The décor riffs on the sustainable, eco-aware ethos of the venture by using reclaimed barn wood for floors, paneling, and Arts-and-Craftsy tables and shelving. Machniak and Mazzone, friends since their Ohio high school days who reconnected last year on Facebook and decided to go into business together, also plan on hosting a lot of different demonstrations and groups in the space. The September 24 event sounds intriguing—a workshop to teach how to crochet reusable tote bags out of disposable plastic grocery sacks. Beginners are welcome, and if you need any raw materials, I’ve got a cupboard jammed with Jewel bags.
If the profile of Chicago’s Dock 6 Collective in Chicago Home + Garden magazine piqued your interest earlier this year, or you’ve run into some of the designers’ furniture and objects at Neocon parties or upscale street fairs, this weekend offers a primo opportunity to check out their work at an opening night party and showing. Dock 6 is a group of seven handsome young guys making clean, good-looking designs out of a 24,000-square-foot workspace at 4200 West Diversey Avenue, and for this event their work will be complemented by the site-specific contemporary art installations of 13 artists, curated by Hinge Gallery. The designers featured are Carson Maddox, -ism Furniture, Lagomorph, Navillus Woodworks, SAP (Scott A. Patterson, a recent addition to the group and not in this photo) Designs, Thomeworks, and zakrose, and the party is Friday, September 16 from 6 p.m. until midnight. You can also stop by and see the show Saturday, from 11–3.
Bicycle Built for You
One of those Dock 6 dudes, Seth Deysach (of Lagomorph Design), is a self-professed bike nerd, and has combined his passions of furniture making and pedaling to come up with this stylish cycle, crafted of black walnut and fitted with top-drawer components. Deysach worked in bike shops on-and-off from the age of 18 to 31, and explored a short stint as a chef in high-end restaurants before blossoming as a furniture designer. He’s producing 12 of these fine rides to start, and then taking custom orders with options. The bike frame costs $2,500, and this complete version will set you back $6,000. There’s a 12-week lead time, so order now if you want one wrapped up under the Christmas tree.
Going to one of Katherine Raz and Libby Alexander’s wildly popular Vintage Bazaars is like going to a loft party with the cool kids. In addition to the dozens and dozens of vetted vendors shilling recent antiques, costumey clothes and jewelry, and mid-century goods up the wazoo, they keep it fresh with indie food vendors, music, and other unexpected activities, treats, and services. At this Sunday’s 11–6 sale in (and around) the Congress Theatre at 2135 North Milwaukee Avenue you can take a little off the sides at a mobile barbershop, pop in to the retro makeover beauty station before having pics taken in a photo booth, and stuff your gullet with comestibles from Puffs of Doom (cream puffs), Nice Cream (local ice cream), Gunslinger beef jerky, and Hoosier Mama pies. There will also be a booth in the lobby offering free design advice, it’s two bucks to get in, and the club’s bars will be available for cocktails. This is my fun favorite venue for VBs, as it is spacious, a historical site, and there’s plenty of street parking. (I’m planning on going to see Erasure at the Congress on Saturday—think they’d let me sleep over and get first pick of the goods on Sunday morning?)
While you’re in Logan Square, stop in and see what’s going on at Wolfbait & B-girls packed little storefront shop and studio at 3131 West Logan Boulevard. Every time I’ve been in here (usually while waiting for a table at Lula), there have been crafters crafting and sewers sewing, and with more than 170 local artisans in their repertoire, it’s not hard to find something tempting to take home, be it artwork, stationery, a funky clock, some jewelry, hand-knitted accessories, or women’s clothing. Mention “autumnal for you” and you’ll get a 20-percent discount off any item, now through October 1. Wolfbait is 1950s slang for young naïfs who came to the big city looking for work, and a b-girl is what a lot of those gals became when Chicago toughened them up. Sums up the insouciant, independent vibe of this unique place perfectly.
For this Sunday’s Edgewater Home Tour, organizers have focusing on eight private homes in the Lakewood Balmoral Historic District, built between 1893 and 1929 (don’t dart to the yellow signs all over neighborhood lawns, those are for promoting the tour and do not indicate participating properties). Addresses are kept secret until you show up at the Unity Lutheran Church at the corner of Balmoral and Magnolia between noon and 4 p.m., where $25 will get you a tour booklet with a map of the neighborhood and descriptions of each home. There are some teaser shots on the Edgewater Historical Society site, and I recognize most of the locales (including the home of one controversial former Chicago alderman); for this 23rd annual autumn walk, the society has roped in some fancy manses. Visiting all the homes will involve less than a mile of walking, and you can dilly-dally along at your own pace until 5 p.m.
Photograph: (Urban Orchard) Courtesy of Alex Rumsey, alexrumsey.com; (Dock 6) courtesy of mcarthur photography, mcarthurphotography.com