How Sweet It Is

Ethel Berger (on the left) and I offered our congratulations to owner Craig Leva on the Grand Opening of the new location of the Long Grove Confectionery.

Ethel Berger (on the right) and I offered our congratulations to owner Craig Leva at the Grand Opening of the newly located Long Grove Confectionery.

Smiles abounded on a perfect springtime evening last Friday for the Grand Opening celebration at the newly renovated Long Grove Confectionery. A year in the making, our town’s namesake sweet spot has happily settled in their new location alongside Towner Green, now offering much more than delicious chocolate creations. Besides locally famous Myrtles (recently named one of “Chicago’s Best” by WGN Channel 9!) you can now also purchase Long Grove Apple Haus favorites like apple cider donuts and Uncle Johnny’s brown bag apple pies. A demonstration kitchen is part of the new retail shop, where customers can watch strawberries and other treats being created and coated in luscious chocolate. The Confectionery expanded to include the next-door Long Grove Coffee Company, which opened this past December. Already a favorite gathering spot with the locals, it features occasional weekend live music and a patio for relaxing in the warmer months to come. A chef is now on staff to create soups and fresh bakery items and coming soon, signature sandwiches.

The party was a lovely celebration of the culmination of 12 months worth of remodeling. It featured a live band, beautiful spread of appetizers, a chocolate fountain (of course!) and my favorite new discovery, apple pie pops. Several hundred people stopped by to offer Confectionery owner Craig Leva and his staff kudos on the beautiful new spaces.

As a former elected official and resident who cares deeply about our Village, it warms my heart to see the investment being made by the Long Grove Confectionery in the future of our downtown. New stores and renovated spaces bring excitement and positive energy to all. And for this chocoholic, having our hometown Confectionery up and running bigger and better than ever makes me very, very happy!

Maureen introduced me to a new  indulgence--apple pie pops. Simply Scrumptious!

Maureen introduced me to a new indulgence–apple pie pops. Simply Scrumptious!

 

Springing Forward

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at their March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at the March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

The transition from winter to spring is a long and drawn-out process in our part of the Midwest. Each day we are gifted with a few more minutes of sunshine to enjoy, but our gardens and open spaces remain brown, drab, and lackluster. One week we are seduced to leave the heavy coats behind as the promise of warmer weather beckons, only to have another round of sub-freezing temps and snow flurries slap us with a reminder that, in fact, winter is still in charge. Setting our clocks ahead one hour this morning is another positive indication that a new season is on the horizon. The Long Grove Arts and Music Council provided a great opportunity last night to enliven yet one more cold and dreary winter night in the best possible way–with a Jazzy array of food, music, dancing, friends and philanthropy.

To raise funds and excitement for the 2018 Summer Concert Series, a benefit was held at the newly opened Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove. It was heartwarming to see the many donations local merchants and residents provided for the silent auction. A live jazz band was on hand to provide upbeat entertainment, as supporters and council volunteers mixed and mingled and generally enjoyed the congenial atmosphere. To me, it was another encouraging example of the revitalization efforts in our historic downtown these past several years paying off. Long Grove residents now have many options to come together and socialize locally, and in the case of last night, to also support a group that provides free summer concerts benefiting the broader community at large. And despite the current reluctance of winter to give way, it’s enough to put a little spring in my step!

Ethel Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Ethel Robey-Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Cocoa Crawl

Long Grove residents (L to R): Miles Tyer, Kristen Wojicik, Pam Pasminski, and Katie Tyer are all smiles after completing the Cocoa Crawl held in downtown Long Grove on February 3rd.

Long Grove residents (L to R): Miles Tyer, Kristen Wojicik, Pam Pasminski, and Katie Tyer are all smiles after completing the Cocoa Crawl held in downtown Long Grove on February 3rd.

Like most of Long Grove, I’m taking a “snow day” today by staying inside and off the roads so that the snowplows can dig us out before the next predicted wave of snow hits later this evening. And while a herd of deer are obviously having fun cavorting through the snow drifts in my back yard, I’m choosing to stay indoors and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while blogging and reading. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell you about the Cocoa Crawl.

Held last Saturday, February 3rd, the Cocoa Crawl was a new idea initiated by the Historic Long Grove Downtown Business Association. On a typically slow winter weekend, residents and visitors were encouraged to come to our village crossroads and explore all the unique shops, restaurants and businesses with the enticement of free chocolate flavored samples at each location. Who does not love free chocolate? Apparently no one, because the event was a hit and downtown Long Grove was literally crawling with hundreds of families out to enjoy the treats, snacks and hometown ambiance. My friend Pam and I had a great time catching up with friends and neighbors that we haven’t seen for months as we hibernate our way through the winter season.

Here are just a few of the goodies we enjoyed: Chocolate Macroons at Within Reach, Hot Chocolate Popcorn at Signature Popcorn, Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar at The Olive Tap, Chocolate Pudding cups topped with Baileys Irish Cream at Unwined, and Hot Chocolate Bark at the Long Grove Confectionery.  We would have had more but mercifully (for our diets) some of the locations had run out of samples by the time we got there due to the large number of attendees to this inaugural event. At the end of our afternoon we stopped back to register for the raffle prize drawing, with 20 of the local businesses donating gift baskets or gift certificates to the festivities. It was great to see so many people enjoying our downtown and becoming acquainted with the newly renovated and opened shops. A tip of my snowman shaped cocoa mug to you, downtown merchants, for an inspired idea!

Taking a break from our crawling, Pam and I enjoyed a short rest under the "chocolate hot tub" outside of the Long Grove Coffee Company.

Taking a break from our crawling, Pam and I enjoyed a short rest under the “chocolate hot tub” outside of the Long Grove Coffee Company.

Covered Bridge Creamery

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The namesake mural at the new Covered Bridge Creamery provided the perfect backdrop for our Historical Society committee meeting this week.

After spending the first several weeks of 2018 in a warmer climate, it was a pleasant surprise for me to return to Long Grove and find two new businesses in our historic downtown. I’m very excited to be able to feature one of them today, Covered Bridge Creamery.

Located in the former location of Beans & Leaves (on Old McHenry Road next to the Chatterbox), this new shop offers a variety of premium ice cream flavors as well as coffee, tea and assorted pastries. New counters and seating complement the classic wood paneling with the addition of a giant mural showcasing our beloved and iconic covered bridge. It provided the perfect spot and perfect inspiration for our recent Covered Bridge Preservation Committee meeting. Our group enjoyed the ambiance and the delicious lattes while also getting some advocacy work underway. Business owner Eric Wallor was gracious enough to sit with us and tell us a bit about his new venture.

Manager Nicholas Modlin and crew member Rachel Temple are two of several friendly faces  waiting to greet you at Covered Bridge Creamery.

Manager Nicholas Modlin and crew member Rachel Temple are two of several employees waiting to make your experience great at Covered Bridge Creamery.

Eric, along with his sister, brother in law and another partner first came to Long Grove this past summer to open Signature Popcorn, which is located next door to the new Creamery. Signature Popcorn started as an online business three years ago, and when the opportunity for a storefront in Long Grove became available they jumped at the chance to add a brick and mortar store to the expanding business. They were very attracted to the history and potential Long Grove provided, so much so that they now own two businesses and are very optimistic about the future of our town. Excited to, “bring our passion for ice cream, coffee and tea and our concept for Covered Bridge Creamery,” to Long Grove, Eric is definitely filling a need. One request that I repeatedly heard from residents during my term as Village President was to bring back a spot to get ice cream treats in our downtown. Thanks to Eric and his team, your wish is now reality. While I can vouch for the tasty hot beverages, I will be returning soon to sample the sweet stuff.

Covered Bridge Creamery is open currently, M-F 6:30 am to 4:30 pm, Saturdays 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sundays 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, they will eventually be open later into the evening hours. Stop by and check it out!

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.

 

Within Reach

Owner of the newly relocated gift store Within Reach Marian Ward (R) with her daughter Julia.

Pictured above is the owner of the newly relocated gift store Within Reach, Marian Ward, with her daughter Julia.

Join me in congratulating Marian Ward, owner of the retail shop Within Reach, on her successful move to a beautiful new location in downtown Long Grove! Now located in the yellow building at 128 Old McHenry Road, Marian’s new space is part of the exciting renovations being done to the entire complex of buildings owned by Craig Leva of the Long Grove Confectionery. Coming soon will be the expanded Confectionery, Long Grove Coffee Company and Cafe, but for now we can enjoy a new spot to shop for gifts and treasures. In business since 1982, this is the third Long Grove location for Within Reach, which started in the basement of the old Stempel general store (now the downtown Visitor’s Center). For the past 35 years Marian’s kindness and love for the community has cultivated a loyal customer base, plus her knack for picking out great finds for home decor. The second floor of her new building is now exclusively devoted to baby clothes and gifts–it’s a pink and blue paradise where cuteness abounds! I stopped in on opening day two weeks ago to check out the new digs but I will be back shortly, Christmas gift list in-hand.

Within Reach and many of the other stores will be open until 7:00 pm every Thursday and Friday night thru Christmas starting tomorrow, November 16th. Shop into the evening and afterwards enjoy dinner at one of our four downtown restaurants or a glass of wine or craft beer at one of our three tasting rooms. Save your receipts and for every batch totaling $150, you will receive a gift at the Visitor’s Center. This Friday, November 17th, the downtown merchants are hosting a “Progress with Us” evening of treats and holiday specials throughout the historic business district. The fun kicks-off at 5:00 pm till 9:00. Carriage Rides, Carolers, and Santa will again be visiting on Saturdays & Sundays for a very “Vintage Holiday” season this year in Long Grove.

Rising Up for Preservation

Fundraising efforts to support saving the covered bridge now exceed $50,000 in donations and pledges.

The fundraising campaign to save the covered bridge now exceeds $50,000 in donations and pledges.

The Village of Long Grove was featured recently in two Chicago Tribune stories (see links below) and both articles spoke of the current efforts by the community to get our covered bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, several fundraising efforts are underway to generate private donations to help offset the public funds that must be allocated to pay for preservation of our iconic bridge. More and more concerned community members are becoming involved with efforts to keep our one-lane bridge by signing the online petition, purchasing raffle tickets, making donations to the covered bridge fund, and speaking up in support of preservation at community events and gatherings. The gauge at the downtown crossroads will be updated soon to show that private efforts have now surpassed the halfway mark of the goal of raising $100K in donations and pledges to save our historic bridge. More information on ways to help can be found by visiting SaveTheBridge.net.

After the bridge was ultimately recommended by the historians on the State of Illinois review committee, the Historical Society was expecting to hear earlier this month from the National Park Service regarding the application to be placed on the National Register. A request came for more documentation pertaining to the scarcity of this type of bridge in our area of Illinois and it’s local significance. The listing process is iterative, with each draft of the application being reviewed by a new historian who brings individual interests and experiences into what is significant and worthy of elaboration. The federal application itself plays a role in documenting our national history, so all involved in the process want to take their time and get it right. With this being the last level of review, the end is now in sight even if it takes a bit longer than desired to get there. More information on this topic can be found at LongGroveHistory.org.

This past weekend my husband and I took a drive up to Michigan to enjoy the fall colors, and we purposefully visited the town of Allegan, Michigan to see their one-lane iron truss bridge over the Kalamazoo River. Built in 1886, this bridge was almost lost in 1979 when rehabilitation was deemed more costly than replacement with a two-lane federally funded structure. The local community rallied and got the Second Street Bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Because the bridge was not a critical transportation corridor, Allegan city officials were able to persuade the federal government in 1981 to fund rehabilitation, even though the project would not meet the federal standards. The bridge is beautiful, with a pedestrian walkway decorated with iron latticework and end post finials. It is a centerpiece and source of pride for the small town and is featured in the logo for the city of Allegan.

This story and it’s positive outcome and correlations to Long Grove make me hopeful. But we all know that for every historic bridge that has been saved, many, many more have perished. I truly hope that the story history writes years from now about our Long Grove covered bridge will be a happy one.

Links to newspaper articles:

 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-long-grove-fights-to-survive-met-20171001-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/buffalo-grove/news/ct-bgc-long-grove-covered-bridge-tl-1019-20171012-story.html

“I Wanna Put On my, my, my, my, my Boogie Shoes”

Putting on our "Boogie Shoes" for a dance lesson at the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove.

Putting on our “Boogie Shoes” for a ballroom dancing lesson at the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove.

I have to admit that I’ve been having a lot of fun this summer. One of the main reasons that I stepped away from the demands of being Village President was that I wanted to have more time to spend with my loved ones, doing things that I enjoyed and that were important to me. The last few months have been filled with travel, hiking, camping, downtime in the pool, and some very satisfying community service. I have also recently discovered something new that allows me to spend time together with my husband, have some fun, and contributes to our goal of staying healthy–ballroom dancing!

Yes, we have started taking lessons at the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio in downtown Long Grove. Located at the former Red Oaks property, owner (and former “Dancing with the Stars” pro) Jesse DeSoto has transformed a barn into a grand ballroom. Both Aaron and I have gotten to know Jesse over the past year as he has been renovating and getting the new property up to speed. So when we recently received invitations to our niece’s Quinceanera and a neighbor’s wedding, I knew just who to call to get us ready for the dance floor. I usually have to drag Aaron out when the music starts at special events, but he agreed to give our new dance studio a whirl. We have found both the staff and our fellow students to be extremely friendly and very welcoming. Our instructor, Brianna, is patient and encouraging and we have learned the basics of the rumba, fox trot, waltz, and push-pull. So far, we are having a blast!

Not sure that we will ever strike as lovely a pose as our dance instructors Vlad and Brianna Nalyvaychuk, but we are having fun trying!

Not sure that we will ever strike as lovely a pose as our dance instructors Vlad and Brianna Nalyvaychuk, but we are having fun trying!

Welcome, Buffalo Creek Brewing!

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society  celebrating at the Grand Opening on July 15, 2015.

Members of the Long Grove Historical Society celebrating at the Grand Opening on July 15, 2017.

It was so great to see the Stempel parking lot filled today, and not because of a festival but because so many locals showed up to welcome a new business in town. It has been nearly ten years since the former Studio of Long Grove closed their doors, and this property next to the Historical Society farmhouse has sat vacant much of that time. We are all thrilled to see Buffalo Creek Brewing up and running, and the crowds checking out this new local hot spot were in a celebratory mood at the Grand Opening today. The event featured a ribbon cutting, samples of featured craft beers brewed on site, and bands on the outdoor lawn throughout the afternoon and evening. The weather could not have been more perfect for the festivities and it was wonderful to run into so many friends and neighbors toasting to the success of this welcome addition to our historic downtown. Here’s to owner Mike Marr and his family and staff as they continue to work hard to build a new business in Long Grove and help with the revitalization of our Village–Cheers and Best Wishes!!

L to R: Dale Perrin, Director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, Mike Marr, owner of Buffalo Creek Brewing, and Angie Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society.

L to R: Dale Perrin, Director of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, Mike Marr, owner of Buffalo Creek Brewing, and Angie Underwood, President of the Long Grove Historical Society. Mike was presented with a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift of a historical print of his choice from our archives.

What’s Brewing in Long Grove?

Owner Mike Marr of Buffalo Creek Brewing in front of his newly installed fermentation tanks.

Owner Mike Marr of Buffalo Creek Brewing in front of his newly installed fermentation tanks.

After taking the last month off for some travel, relaxation, and recharging, I am glad to be back home in Long Grove and starting the next chapter of my “Life In Long Grove” blog!

Just to help get back up to speed, I will use this first post to re-cap a few of the things that have happened in our Village while I was away on vacation:

Retiring Village Board members on April 25th: (L to R) George Yeager, Lori Lyman, Angie Underwood and John Marshall.

Retiring Village Board members on April 25th: (L to R) George Yeager, Lori Lyman, Angie Underwood and John Marshall.

Changes on the Village Board

Along with my retirement as Village President on April 25th, Trustees George Yeager, Lori Lyman, and John Marshall were honored for their service to Long Grove. Between the four of us, we represented a collective 33 years of volunteer experience given to the Village. On May 9th, Bill Jacob was installed as the new Village President, along with new Trustees Rita O’Connor, Bobbie O’Reilly, Anne Kritzmire, and Chuck Nora. Trustee Stanley Borys resigned his position on May 23rd. An additional new Trustee will soon be appointed to fill the remaining two years of this term.

Chocolate Fest

The cold and rain kept the crowds at bay on Friday and Saturday last weekend, but Sunday the weather cooperated and the attendance was robust! Chocolate in many delicious forms was enjoyed by all and the event featured the introduction of another candy company opening up in town later this year, Morkes Chocolates. Along with the expansion of the Long Grove Confectionery going on near Towner Green, residents and visitors will soon have many more chocolate options to choose from in Long Grove. Lucky us–the more chocolate, the better!

Craft Beer and Dancing Coming Soon

Great progress has been made on renovations to the new Fred Astaire Dance Studio (in the former Red Oaks building) and Buffalo Creek Brewing (in the former Studio of Long Grove property). Brewery owner Mike Marr was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the renovations, which feature a beautiful bar and tasting room area, large outside deck & gazebo, special event space, and production areas for fermenting, bottling, and cold storage. Opening day is scheduled for July 15th and I know that I am only one of many, many residents who are eagerly awaiting both of these new additions to our downtown business district.

New and exciting changes abound in our Village this summer. Strawberry Fest is just around the corner June 23rd-25th, followed by Vintage Days on August 19th and 20th. There is so much to look forward to in the months ahead–hope to see you in Long Grove this season!

Brewing equipment and beer storage tanks ready for installation this week at Buffalo Creek Brewery.

Brewing equipment and beer storage tanks ready for installation this week at Buffalo Creek Brewery.