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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.
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