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Business: Downtown St. Charles Year in Review

The central business district saw 17 new businesses arrive, interior and exterior improvements, and awards.

In 2012, downtown St. Charles had over 17 new businesses open their doors, several others make significant exterior and interior improvements, and others recognized for excellence. Efforts are continuous to bring people downtown more frequently to experience the extensive offerings of dining, shopping, recreation, and entertainment.  Below are some highlights to downtown St. Charles in 2012.

New Business

Several new businesses opened their doors in 2012 across downtown St. Charles which specialize in vintage, home décor, and furniture. La Vie Encore opened on Third Street and Treasure Broker LLC opened on State Street across from the Breadsmith. A new retail popcorn and candy store, Chicago Turtle Factory, opened on Riverside next to the Arcada Theatre and Starbucks. Two new restaurants opened as well with Wild Monk filling the old Prasino on First Street and the Alibi Bar and Grill opening on 3rd Street and Cedar.

In addition to retail and restaurants, Downtown St. Charles also has welcomed two new salons, David Charles Salon and Spring Salon & Spa. Other new businesses include: Integrated Medical Options, Chicago Body & Chrome, Circa Vintage Gallery, Kryias Art Studio & Classical Atelier, Lighthouse Behavioral Health, Riverside Insurance Associates, InNetwork, Law Offices of Jotham S. Stein, PC, and NOVO: Renewing Joy in Life.

Business Improvements

The Blue Goose Market has a new president in Paul Lencioni, the son of longtime President/owner Dave Lencioni. The Blue Goose Market is proud to continue its legacy of great food at a good value and has recently completed some minor remodeling near the front of the store, shifted and rotated produce, and added a greater selection of cold beer and spirits; the new selection of cold beer is now where the ice cream was once located.

Kimmer’s Ice Cream added a new ice cream making machine earlier this year that dramatically improved her efficiencies and provided the opportunity to make and sell more ice cream to local supermarkets such as Blue Goose Market. Kimmer’s Ice Cream also has been able to expand its shipping of ice cream, and plans to add e-commerce to their website in February.

Other businesses making improvements include three which were awarded Façade grants from the city of St. Charles. The dollar amounts and businesses include $5,950.00 to Bill Grossklag, owner of 201-203 W. Main St., to repair the metal cornice on the building; $11,400.00 to Doc Morgan of 108 S. 2nd St., for improvements to the entrance stairs; and $18,650 to Dave Gary, owner of 117 W. Main St., for storefront facade improvements. Dave Gary’s building at Route 31 (2nd Street) and Route 64 (Main Street) soon will house two new retail stores in both Biggby Coffee, a fast-growing coffeehouse franchise, and Forever Yogurt, a self-serve frozen yogurt franchise.

Entertainment

The Arcada Theatre continues to outdo itself in bringing top notch acts to the St. Charles landmark. In 2012, the theater hosted acts and Hollywood stars such as Kevin Costner & Modern West, Joan Rivers, Kansas, Eddie Money, Frankie Avalon, and Clay Aiken. According to the website www.oshows.com, upcoming acts include: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, The Guess Who, Shirley MacLaine, David Sedaris, and Rick Springfield.

The intimate Steel Beam Theatre continues to entertain subscribers, groups, and single ticket patrons with shows from top notch comedic geniuses such as Neil Simon and The Sunshine Boys (fall 2012) and musical favorites such as Scrooge the Musical which played through the holidays. As a sneak peak to 2013, Steel Beam Theatre will dramatize the murder mystery DeathTrap (February 2013) and the daring portrayal of Irish Playwright Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer (April 2013) which was raved by critics when it played at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2009.

Events

September saw the first St. Charles Jazz Weekend which featured several different jazz performers among four downtown establishments. The Jazz Weekend, sponsored by the Kane County Chronicle, was highly successful in fulfilling its goal to increase sales and draw new customers for each participating venue.

During the holiday season, the shopping and dining in downtown St. Charles was strengthened by an early Thanksgiving and the Holiday Homecoming festivities that followed. The Electric Christmas Parade featured Jack Wagner, Sharon Oie, Dave Lencioni, and Alderman Jim Martin as Grand Marshals who were the four founders of the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2012. The parade drew a record 13,000 parade spectators, and people continued to frequent downtown through the holidays to experience “Visits with Santa” in the First Street Plaza and shop for Christmas Trees in the First Street Christmas Tree Lot across from the Plaza.

Perhaps the quote of the year came from Susan Escamilla who watched the parade for the first time with her children and father, "Oh my gosh, it was so good. We just moved here. This is a small town — it's clean, it's safe and it's just a dream come true,” as quoted in the Kane County Chronicle.

Recognition and Awards

Preceding the annual St. Charles Scarecrow Fest 2012, Greater St. Charles was featured on national television during a segment on The Today Show as one of the top autumn festivals. The recognition was on the heels of the 2011 award adorned to the city of St. Charles and the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau as the No. 1 City for Families in America as named by Family Circle Magazine.

Za Za's Trattoria was the recipient of the Kane County Chronicle Reader's Choice Award for Best Italian Food in 2012 and Bull and Bear Tobacco Shop was also a recipient of the same award for “The Best Cigar Shop.” Claudia’s Closet was recently featured as the designer/clothing provider for a photo published in Italian Vogue, with Claudia, daughter of Claudia’s Closet owner Karla Sitko and the store’s namesake, featured in the photo.

Warehouse Antiques and Confectionary celebrated its 40th anniversary in St. Charles and was honored by the city of St. Charles with a proclamation naming a day in the business’s honor. Dick Pond Athletics in St. Charles also received a similar proclamation from the city of St. Charles as it celebrated its 44th year. Dick Pond Athletics was also a recipient of a national award from American Express OPEN and Facebook, receiving $25,000 to launch strategic actions aimed at building and marketing the company’s brand. For those with a budding interest in running, Dick Pond has several running classes for beginners and a new class in 2013 “Can I Run a Marathon?”, which will focus on the training regiment, financial, and time commitment.

Summary

Downtown St. Charles is excited for new businesses and projects that will bring added value in 2013.

Downtown St. Charles Partnership Executive Director Lynne Schwartz notes, “There are so many great things happening in downtown St. Charles right now, and we expect to see the momentum continue as we head into 2013.”

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