Long Grove Coffee Company

Two of the friendly faces that will greet you at the Long Grove Coffee Company are (L to R) Ethel Berger and Ellee Leva.

Two of the friendly faces that will greet you at the new Long Grove Coffee Company are (L to R) Ethel Berger and Ellee Leva.

Ever since my favorite Long Grove coffee shop, the former Beans & Leaves closed this summer, our weekly women’s huddle has been forced to meet elsewhere for caffeine fortification while we solve all of the world’s problems.  Well, life in Long Grove just got a whole lot better for those of us who have been missing our favorite gathering spot with the recent opening of the Long Grove Coffee Company. Located at 126 Old McHenry Road, the new business is part of the renovations being undertaken by the Long Grove Confectionery with their expanded properties near Towner Green. The Confectionery has officially reopened as of last Friday, and is chock full of treats for those Christmas stockings as well as sweet gifts for the holidays.

Right now, the buildings look a bit naked as the old siding was removed this week in anticipation of a new upgraded exterior coming very soon. As I was getting my latte today, I asked barista Ellee Leva what happened to their “skin,” and she told me her Dad (Confectionery owner Craig Leva) wanted the outside to look just as beautiful as the newly renovated interiors of the buildings. The coffee shop features large tables for groups (one of which is a cool vintage treasure from local shop Scout and Forge), smaller tables for meet-ups, and a comfy couch and chairs for casual conversation. I happened to be there when the new couch was delivered so I can vouch for the coziness! Long Grove resident Ethel Berger, who ran Beans & Leaves, has returned to head up the operations at Long Grove Coffee Company and her regulars have already started to settle in to the new location. Plans are underway to add some additional food offerings in the months ahead and to continue the tradition of live music that the community enjoyed at the former location.

As you finish your holiday shopping in our historic downtown, stop by for a warm beverage and piece of chocolate and get acquainted with one of the many new businesses that have opened this year in Long Grove. The new couch awaits you!!

Testing out the brand new couch on December 8th (L to R): Angie Underwood, Marie Roth, and Ethel Berger.

Testing out the brand new couch on December 8th (L to R): Angie Underwood, Marie Roth, and Ethel Berger.

 

More Chocolate to Love

Cathie Olson is shown helping me satisfy another chocolate craving at the new Morkes Chocolates shop  in Long Grove.

Cathie Olson is shown helping me satisfy another chocolate craving at the new Morkes Chocolates shop in Long Grove.

My relationship with chocolate is simple–resistance is futile. As a child, I always tried to give it up for Lent and almost never made it the 40 days. As an adult, I try to cut back from time to time when I need to lose a few pounds. But in my opinion, it’s not really a perfect day if it doesn’t include a little chocolate somewhere. Imagine my delight to discover that we have one more shop in town to satisfy my sweet tooth, Morkes Chocolates!

This week Long Grove welcomed our newest candy store with a celebratory ribbon cutting. Open since August 1st, Morkes is located in the red schoolhouse building on Fountain Square that formerly housed the Long Grove Confectionery. The Morkes family originated in France and started in the candy-making business back in 1920. Further generations continued the family tradition and opened the original Morkes Chocolates in Palatine, Illinois in 1967. Today, the Palatine location also serves as headquarters and production for the company, with additional stores in Huntley and now Long Grove. Current owner Rhonda Dehn is the 3rd generation of the Morkes family to craft delicious chocolate treats here in the northwest suburbs. I have personally sampled many of the mouth-watering choices available (I know, it was a tough job, but doing this blog requires painstaking research!) and my favorites so far are the lemon creams and signature white chocolate pecan “puppets”.  Later this fall Morkes plans to offer classes and private parties in the upper floor of their building. I am intrigued by the prospect of learning how to temper chocolate, dip & decorate, and I really need to know what ingredients are involved with “extreme” fondue!

Morkes joins our two other village candy shops, Ma & Pa’s Candy and the Long Grove Confectionery. The Confectionery has moved to another location in our historic downtown and after a summer of renovations is slated to reopen in October. Is this potentially too much of a good thing? I view having additional chocolate stores the same way as being blessed with another child– more to love!

Ruth Barn to House Historic Pigs

The Long Grove Historical Society's 1840 Ruth Barn will be the new home for the iconic signs from the Country Smokehouse.

The Long Grove Historical Society’s 1840 Ruth Barn will be the new home for the iconic signs from the Country Smokehouse.

Longtime residents in the area remember fondly the combination smokehouse-restaurant-general store that was located on Rt. 83 and Gilmer Road in Long Grove, called the Country Smokehouse. Closed since 1999, the popular spot featured old-fashioned meats smoked in the historic smokehouse on the property (which is still standing), a deli, and a seven table restaurant serving up country breakfasts and hearty lunches daily. Owner of the business, Bernice Ann Tiffany, has passed away, and her daughter Jane recently contacted me to see if the Historical Society would like some donations of pictures, documents, and other antique items from the Smokehouse and Ferry Farms, the dairy farm and creamery that originally stood on the property. We were very excited to receive these items and happily welcomed the “pigs” back home today to live in our 1840 Historic Ruth Barn! We will be able to incorporate the signs into our field trip program for the local 3rd Graders when they visit to spend the day in our one-room schoolhouse and learn about local history and life in the pioneer and early farming days.

Ferry Farms was the home of Ferryhill Dairy in the 1930’s, and the Country Smokehouse was part of the original estate. It featured an original tin ceiling and shelving that dated back more than 50 years, chock-full of grocery items much like an old-time general store. Many of Bernice Tiffany’s regular customers shared their pig-collecting mania with her, resulting in hundreds of cute pink porkers on display in the restaurant along with the old-time memorabilia. We are grateful to Jane and Ken for saving many of these ties to the past, and for sharing them now with the Long Grove community.

Jane Tiffany-Hansen and Ken Hansen of Grayslake, who graciously donated items from the Smokehouse and Ferry Farms to our Historical Society.

Jane Tiffany-Hansen and Ken Hansen of Grayslake, who graciously donated items from the Smokehouse and Ferry Farms to our Historical Society.

Say Hello to Pub 83!

Jimmy, the General Manager of Pub 83 welcomed me to the newly reopened restaurant last night.

Jimmy, the General Manager of Pub 83 welcomed me to the newly reopened restaurant last night.

For many years now the former Gridley Grill restaurant on the corner of Rt. 83 and Gilmer road has remained closed, despite the addition of a new entrance and expansion of the parking lot. That is, until this past Monday, when the doors opened once again to the new Pub 83. The current management has reinvigorated the space to cater to contemporary casual dining, featuring pizza, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads. The dining room is family friendly, and the bar has additional large screen T.V.’s for a sports-pub atmosphere. My husband and I enjoyed our recent dinner there, and with only five days in business so far, they were full on a Friday night. Based on all the inquiries I have received over the past few years, I know that we are one of many families who were eagerly awaiting the reopening of this Long Grove dining spot.

However, seeing Pub 83 finally back in business is bittersweet for me since it is the result of the most recent tie that I had to break on the Village Board. On August 23, 2016 owner George Calis came to our meeting to ask the trustees for a class V liquor and video gaming license, which our Board had established by ordinance earlier in the year. He stated that knowing he could have video gaming was the incentive he needed to reopen the long-shuttered establishment. Three of the trustees voted against allowing George his liquor and gaming license, and the remaining three trustees (who will all be leaving the board this month) voted to grant his request. While trying to be responsible for what is ultimately best for the village as a whole, I cast my tie-breaking vote to once again fill the vacant restaurant.

This week, it was great to enjoy a meal again at “Gridleys” surrounded by other residents socializing and having a good time in our village. I am glad to have played a small part to help empower this to happen, and I wish the all best for Pub 83. Stop by and give it a try!

Meals On Wheels

Attending the 2017 Lake County "Champions for Meals" event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, MOW Volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R)   Diana O'Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

Attending the 2017 Lake County “Champions for Meals” event on Monday, March 20th with (L) Millie Hall, Meals On Wheels volunteer from Lake Forest, Angie Underwood, Long Grove Village President, and (R) Diana O’Kelly, Fremont Township Supervisor.

I have a long-standing relationship with Meals on Wheels. Early in my career in Nutrition & Dietetics, I worked as a menu planner for a company that produced the meals for a senior delivery program in Cook County. Later as a young mom in 1988, I fastened my baby daughter in her car seat so she could go along for the ride as I delivered meals to home-bound senior citizens in Winfield, Wheaton, and West Chicago in DuPage County. Ten years down the road when we moved to Long Grove I volunteered in Lake County on the routes serving Wauconda, Lake Zurich, and Island Lake. As my kids got older I would schedule my delivery days on school holidays so that they could help physically deliver the meals, and this always earned extra smiles from the recipients. When my three children were student drivers, I made them do the driving on the route with me for extra practice backing up and parking. I reluctantly had to give up volunteering as a driver when I became Village President because of the need to make some room in my schedule for the demands of the Village. But all together I spent a little over 20 years doing my small part in helping needy seniors receive a hot lunch and a friendly check-in.

Many invitations show up in my inbox to attend charity events these days, and as much as I would like to I can’t attend them all. I try to pick the ones that will have the best impact for the Village, and the ones that are the most personally meaningful to me. Meals on Wheels is certainly personal. This past Monday, March 20th I had the opportunity to come together with other elected and government officials in Lake County to be a “Champion for Meals” and help deliver meals to seniors to bring awareness to this worthy program. I was paired with Millie Hall, a volunteer driver from Lake Forest, who helped me remember the joy of serving our fellow senior residents in this way.

The Meals on Wheels “more than just a meal” model addresses three of the biggest threats of aging:  isolation, hunger, and loss of independence. Nationally, 1 in 6 seniors struggle with hunger, and programs such as this deliver the support that keeps seniors in their own homes, where they want to be. This in turn reduces the early need for nursing home and hospital care, saving billions in healthcare costs. In 2016, over 122,400 home delivered meals were provided locally in our county. I was honored last week to help join with others to spotlight this needed program. In Lake County, Meals on Wheels is administered through Catholic Charities and you can find out more by visiting www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

Delivering lunch to a Meals on Wheels senior citizen in Lake Zurich.

A New Home for the Confectionery

Owner of the Long Grove Confectionery, Craig Leva, is shown here in the middle, with me on the left and Marian Ward, owner of Within Reach, on the right.

Owner of the Long Grove Confectionery, Craig Leva, is shown here in the middle, with me on the left and Marian Ward, owner of Within Reach, on the right.

For the past 42 years, the Long Grove Confectionery has housed it’s flagship retail location in the basement of the little red schoolhouse on Fountain Square. Chocoholics in Long Grove and the Northwestern suburbs have known just where to go to get their sweet fix. But later this year, the Confectionery will debut a new retail store here in our historic downtown, at 128 Old McHenry Road, adjacent to Towner Green. Why the move?

Back in 2013, about a month after I became Village President, the former owner of the Long Grove Confectionery sold the business and the plant in Buffalo Grove to Craig Leva, owner of Arway Confections, based in Chicago. The little retail shop was part of the deal and Craig has gone to a lot of effort to keep the store a part of our local business economy, as well as personally participating with his family in all of our major festivals. But he has been paying rent these past four years to the new owner of the Fountain Square parcel, so this upcoming move gives Craig the opportunity to truly make the Long Grove retail store reflective of his new combined business. I am very excited that the Leva family has decided to further invest in Long Grove and become a property owner in the downtown, and I think this is a positive sign for revitalization. Even more, I can’t wait to see what the newly renovated and updated Confectionery looks like and has to offer in the way of sweet surprises! In the meantime, we can all get our chocolate cravings satisfied during the major festivals this year in Long Grove as the Confectionery still plans to participate.  It just wouldn’t be the same without chocolate covered strawberries and apple cider donuts!

Summer Fest

Friends and neighbors sharing a picture perfect day at Summer Fest L to R: Angie & Aaron Underwood, Michael Trickey, Jim Unsler, and Diane Trickey.

Friends and neighbors sharing a picture perfect day at Summer Fest L to R: Angie & Aaron Underwood, Michael Trickey, Jim Uszler, and Diane Trickey.

This is going to be a very short blog post because I think the picture above says it all! We love our town, and Long Grove was a great place to be this weekend as we celebrated Summer Fest in the historic downtown with fun, families, food, carnival rides, and great music. It was cheerful to see so many neighbors, residents and merchants enjoying the festivities despite the seasonable heat. Besides, what’s a good summer festival without a little sizzle?

Chocolate Fest 2016

Merchant John Kopecky shows his Chocolate Fest spirit at the start of our weekend festival.

Merchant John Kopecky shows his Chocolate Fest spirit at the start of our weekend festival.

If you are looking for something fun to do outdoors on this gorgeous spring day in Long Grove, come join me at Chocolate Fest! You will meet lovable local characters (like the one in the green wig pictured above), enjoy music, shopping, art and dancing, and of course, indulge to your heart’s content in all forms of chocolate.

Craig Leva, owner of the Long Grove Confectionery with ABC Channel 7 morning anchor Tanja Babich.

Craig Leva, owner of the Long Grove Confectionery with ABC Channel 7 morning anchor Tanja Babich.

To kick off the weekend festivities, yesterday I joined up with other dedicated supporters of our historic downtown for the early morning live broadcast on Chicago’s ABC affiliate, Channel 7. And by early morning, I mean I was scheduled for a live interview with anchor Tanja Babich at 4:45 am! Long Grove was fortunate to have Channel 7 showcasing our Village with live cut-ins from 4:30 to 7:00 am, all throughout the morning news program leading up to “Good Morning America.” One of the many segments featured the Long Grove Confectionery, and the unveiling of a newly created sweet treat available for the first time ever this weekend–the Myrtle Cookie. Yes, I have sampled it’s chocolate, caramel and pecan deliciousness and yes, it is to die for!

Closing out the broadcast was the debut of a special routine for Channel 7 by the students of the In Motion Dance performing arts school here in Long Grove. Dancing to Justin Timberlake’s new release “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” was the perfect way to wrap the show and kick off the festival weekend with energy and smiles all around. Happy Chocolate Fest 2016!

Students of In Motion Dance performed a lively routine to close out the live Channel 7 broadcast.

Some of the students of In Motion Dance who performed a lively routine to close out the live Channel 7 broadcast.

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

ABC Chanel 7 news reporter Tanja Babich prepares to interview Long Grove Historical Society President, Aaron Underwood on May 4, 2016.

ABC Channel 7 news reporter Tanja Babich prepares to interview Long Grove Historical Society President Aaron Underwood on May 4, 2016.

This week I got to participate in the production of some promotional footage for Long Grove’s upcoming Chocolate Fest to be held on May 20-22. Chicago’s ABC affiliate, Channel 7, sent anchor Tanja Babich to our Village to interview a few merchants and community leaders, for segments that will be interspersed with live footage filmed on Friday the 20th, first day of the festival. Besides learning a little local history from Aaron (pictured above), the crew took outdoor shots of our historic downtown and did interviews featuring merchants at the Long Grove Confectionery, Broken Earth Winery, and Village Tavern. And of course, chocolate, wine, and broasted chicken were savored along the way! It was really great to see members of our downtown community working together in such a professional, positive, and cooperative way to make today’s film shoot and the upcoming festival succeed. This publicity, which will air just prior to and during “Good Morning America” on May 20th is very advantageous, and could really help boost our festival attendance. Here’s hoping that Mother Nature will gift us with some lovely weather this year!

News reporter Tonja Babich (right) interviews Mary Ann Ullrich, owner of the Village Tavern.

News reporter Tonja Babich (right) interviews Mary Ann Ullrich, owner of the Village Tavern.

Welcome Village Pizza & BBQ!

At the ribbon cutting ceremony on April 18th with new owners Rusty Gault (left) and Joanie Shunia-Gault (right).

At the ribbon cutting ceremony on April 18th with new owners Rusty Gault (left) and Joane Shunia-Gault (right).

If you are really hungry right now or trying to stick to a diet, you might not want to read any further on this post. Because just look at the deliciousness of this pizza…..

Village-Pizza-41816

Yes, we have a new pizza joint in town and the sauce is a family secret! This Monday marked the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of Village Pizza and BBQ, located by the Mill Pond in the former location of Long Grove Cafe. New owners Rusty and Joane Shunia-Gault have relocated from Michigan and brought along their family recipes for thin, hand-tossed, and Sicilian deep-dish pizza. I’ve had the pleasure of trying several different varieties and flavors so far, and each one is better than the next.

Since the first of the year, not a week has gone by without a resident asking me when the new pizza place was going to open. Over the past few months I’ve gotten to know Joane and Rusty and they are a wonderful new addition to our community. Already they have hosted weekly Rotary Club meetings, Chamber of Commerce Mixers, and a get-acquainted gathering for residents hosted by Long Grove Living magazine. The pizza is getting rave reviews and we all wish the best of success for our newest downtown business. Welcome!!

Joanie serves up a slice for an eager resident at a gathering Tuesday evening.

Joane serves up a slice for an eager resident at a gathering Tuesday evening.