Our annual look back at business activity traditionally looks at the openings and closings of businesses in Oak Park and River Forest. But this year two other items bear note.

First, all businesses like to celebrate their anniversaries. But few do it as cleverly as Val’s halla, 723 1/2 South Blvd. Val Camilletti celebrated the record store’s 33 1/3rd anniversary by giving 33 1/3 percent off all Long Playing 33 1/3rd records as part of the promotion in November.

Also, at least three restaurants have gone smoke-free, ahead of an expected ban coming before the village board in January. Winberie’s, 151 N. Oak Park Ave., Rock L’s, 1115 Lake St., and Poor Phil’s, 139 S. Marion St., all went smoke-free this year. Poor Phil’s, which has a considerable bar business, says its business has dwindled since cold weather closed outdoor seating.

Finally, often much is made about businesses Oak Park has lost to nearby villages, where rents and property costs are often lower. However, if our list is any indication, about twice as many businesses moved into the village this year as moved out.


Rick Carter started Rickshaw Rick’s with a fleet of vehicles to cart people around that are all (but one) pedal-powered. A Realtor by day, Carter offers tours of Oak Park attractions and provides everyday taxi cab-like transportation.

He realizes riding around in a human-powered vehicle can seem a bit indulgent, but suggests, “Just touch your pearls, smile and wave.” The company can be reached at myrickshaw@rickshawrick.com, or 773/771-3922.

But perhaps the biggest movin’-in story this year was The Abbey, 728 Lake St. After Wednesday Journal published a story about the owner’s intent to open a wine bar, Oak Park’s Attorney Ray Heise found inconsistencies between the business plan and the village’s liquor ordinance. The board moved quickly to rectify the matter, but Heise recommended a closer look at the village’s entire liquor ordinance and philosophy in the future.

Other businesses opening in 2005 included:

• Fresh Market, 6209 W. North Ave.

• Musicopia, 6907 W. Roosevelt Road (Berwyn side)

• Cold Stone Creamery, 134 N. Marion St.

• Bugaboo Shoes, 1105 Westgate

• Good To Go, 7761 Lake St., River Forest

• Nola’s Cup, 800 S. Oak Park Ave.

• Slaton’s Supper Club, 144 S. Oak Park Ave. (replaced Vivaldi’s)

• Tremen’s Boutique, 110 S. Ridgeland Ave.

• Oak Park Pantry, 102 S. Ridgeland Ave.

• Village Pilates Studio, 426 S. Ridgeland

• Oak Park Leather, 810 North Blvd.

• Dinner By Design, 7230 W. North Ave.
(Elmwood Park side)

• Geppetto’s Toy Box, 730 Lake St. (replaced
Kate’s Garden)

• Slim and Tone, 132-34 Harrison St.


Jerusalem Cafe, 1110 Westgate, moved into Oak Park and then to a new space at 1030 Lake St., where Panda Express used to be. A Mexican to-go restaurant plans to open in the now-vacant Westgate space.

Other move-ups included:

• Scheck and Siress moved from 1145 Madison St. to 401-05 Harrison St., a building it bought in the move. The prosthetic limb company needed more parking.

• La Bella moved to 1103 South Blvd., which its owner purchased.

•  PJ’s Ace, 7 Chicago Ave., underwent a $200,000 renovation that gave the store more space.

• ABC Toon Town, 148 Harrison St., expanded its operation to offering a new pre-K and kindergarten program at 204 Harrison St.

• Boston Market revamped its space near the southwest corner of Lake Street and Harlem Avenue into a more chi-chi, “village market” concept restaurant. To-go sales are the focus of the new space, where seating was reduced from 45 spaces to 15. The revamp was the only one in the chain, done as a test case.


Three Oak Park businesses will move to Madison Street in Forest Park in April: All About Denim, 200 Harrison St., and Afkara’s Shoes, 140 Harrison St., will move to Madison Commons, where they will share a space that has separate entrances and an internal door between the shops. The shops’ owners say they already share customers, and will benefit from the synergy of a shared space.

Boulevard Fine Art, 115 N. Oak Park Ave., will move to 7416 Madison St., a building that the shop’s owner purchased.

“Some months in small business you’re just paying your rent and employees,” David Manola said. Making mortgage payments means that in those break-even months he’ll at least build equity in the property”a sort of a small business retirement plan”not to mention the benefits of ever-increasing property values.

Two Oak Park businesses closed their bricks-and-mortar stores in 2005 to open online-only shops: A Child is Coming, 817 S. Oak Park Ave., and Schereck Designs Florists, 118 N. Marion St.

And Oak Parker Jim McBride, aka “Mr. Skin,” the self-proclaimed “world’s leading expert on celebrity nudity in film,” moved his company, SK Intertainment, Inc., which publishes mrskin.com, to Chicago in April 2004 after spending five quiet years in his hometown. We reported the move in February [“Mr. Skin the Oak Parker: Jimmy, we barely knew ye”].

Other businesses moving out in 2005 included:

• Tweeter, 7201 Lake St.

•  Dini’s Barber Shop, 425 N. Marion St.

• Transformations, 146 N. Oak Park Ave., moving to Las Vegas in the new year.

• Vivaldi’s, 144 S. Oak Park Ave.

• Kate’s Garden, 730 Lake St.

“Drew Carter

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