Second fundraiser planned for shuttered Oak Park glass shop

Cucina Paradiso benefit raised $4,000; store owner bashes landlord

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Oak Park's Prodigy Glassworks remains shuttered a month after the façade of its building collapsed, but fundraisers this week and last week are helping to ease the owner's pain.

Cucina Paradiso — an Oak Park Italian restaurant that went through a similar ordeal after a fire temporarily closed its doors in 2007 — hosted a fundraiser for Prodigy last week. The charity event raised about $4,000 for the shop, including sales of some glass pieces plus 20 percent of all restaurant receipts that night.

Prodigy owner Matt Kwilas, 33, said the proceeds will likely go toward paying some of his business-related bills while the store remains closed.

"A little old lady came by with a nice, crisp $5 bill for me. It's the thought that counts," Kwilas said, later adding, "The sheer number of people who supported me, that was the brightest thing that's happened to me in four weeks, for sure."

Anthony Gambino, who owns Cucina with his brother Nick, said the restaurant was sold out all night, from 5 to 10 p.m. He said the community seemed to rally behind Prodigy's struggles.

"You've got a lot of people backing him and feeling for him," Gambino said the day after the fundraiser. "You know he's in a tough spot, and it really showed last night."

Kwilas said it will likely be months before Prodigy is able to reopen. Right now, he's talking with the Oak Park Development Corp. about the possibility of moving to a different location. But with the building all boarded up, it would be "impossible" to get his heavy glassblowing equipment out of the storefront.

He's most bothered, though, by the fact that his landlord, Chris Kleronomos, hasn't returned his calls a month after the collapse.

"It's disheartening," Kwilas said. "I personally have known drug addicts and alcoholics, and I've never met someone with so little regard for anyone. He hasn't said a word to me."

Kleronomos could not be reached for comment Friday and has not returned numerous calls since the collapse on Aug. 10. The building at 201-211 Harrison is currently in foreclosure and is being overseen by a court-appointed receiver.

The Oak Park Arts District is hosting a silent auction on Sept. 16 and 17, with the proceeds benefiting Prodigy Glassworks. Local businesses plan to sell art, jewelry and gift certificates that day at the corner of Harrison and Humphrey during the Art on Harrison event. For more information, go to www.oakparkartsdistrict.com.

Reader Comments

5 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Bruce DeViller from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 12:57 PM

This was a great event. It is heartwarming to see a member of the the business community and the general public come out to support a local business that is experiencing a rough period.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 2:35 PM

Has the Village established a strict and enforceable timeline for this issue to be resolved? It's now been a month since the building collasped. What's been going on behind those plywood panels? Is the owner attempting to rebuild or is demolition underway? How much longer can we expect the sidewalk to be closed? Is there an end in sight?

@ from Oak Park  

Posted: September 10th, 2011 1:00 PM

So who was really responsible for the building to collapse? The Village inspector? The contractor? The building owner?

mary mccloskey from oak park  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 10:30 PM

I find it unconscienable that Kleronomos isn't forced to communicate with the owner of Prodigy. Why, why, why is this man allowed to operate a business in Oak Park? Couldn't the village suspend his license to operate a real estate business--something?

Fundraiser attendee  

Posted: September 9th, 2011 4:18 PM

A wonderful fundraiser at Cucina Paradiso. Again the Gambino brothers come together to help. Thanks guys!!

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