For Bruegger’s, a full circle

River Forest resident Jim Arado, one of three proud owners of the newly opened Bruegger’s in downtown Oak Park, says he’s not concerned the bagel shop chain didn’t survive in the area a decade ago.

Yes, there was a Bruegger’s just across Harlem Avenue in River Forest. It was one of about 20 Chicagoland shops that the national chain opened in the mid-1990s and then closed within a few years.

Arado blames the failure on the chain’s owner at the time, a company that also managed many Burger King locations.

“They tried to run it like a hamburger place instead of a Vermont bakery,” Arado said. “They really kind of screwed up everything. And then when they screwed up everything, they pulled out of Chicago.”

Soon afterward, Bruegger’s original owners regained control of the company and got back to old-school bagel practices. In 2003, they sold to Sun Capital Partners, an investment firm too diverse to focus on burger making.

A peek into Wednesday Journal’s archive shows that Bruegger’s was already at River Forest Town Center II when Brothers Gourmet Coffees, a shop for which the ribbon cutting was in January 1995, arrived at 7215 W. Lake.

The new address for Sear’s signs

Sear’s Pharmacy is getting a new home after for more than 50 years at the southwest corner of Madison Street and Oak Park Avenue.

With Walgreens moving a few blocks east into Sear’s spot, the quirky little pharmacy is heading to 1003 Madison, just west of Home Avenue, where Thomas Rains has signed a five-year lease.

Rains, the pharmacist who has owned Sear’s since 1988, says he’s unsure of exactly when the move will be but that the change along Madison is likely by the end of June. Rains said his current landlord, developer Alex Troyanovsky, hasn’t given him a deadline by which to be out.

Sear’s will shrink from 2,200 square feet to 1,200, but will keep its products, services, hours and phone number.

“We’ll be the same,” Rains said. “We’ll just be leaner and meaner.”

And how about those signs that pepper the pharmacy’s windows?

“Part of the lease,” Rains said. “I made sure that we could put what we want in the window.”

OP Dems: ‘Lettuce help you with your victory garden’

Talk about growing a movement. The Democratic Party of Oak Park, which spent two years working to keep Illinois blue, now is working to make this part of the state green.

In honor of Earth Day next week, volunteers with the party’s Organizing For America chapter will be out and about in Oak Park this weekend passing out free packets of lettuce seeds.

This victory garden initiative, the latest grassroots redirection of the energy harnessed to send Barack Obama to the White House, is a win-win for the environment and economy, according to organizer Amie Casson.

“Instead of traveling many miles from farm to table, your food would travel from your own garden to your table,” Casson said, referring to a victory garden’s potential to fight global warming.

For details about this and other work by the party, call 386-0090 or go to

What’s with the Opera Club splotches?

At the end of March, you might have noticed some chalky marks on the Opera Club – the brick building on the southeast corner of South Boulevard and Marion that houses condos and Marion Street Cheese Market.

A few days after appearing, the splotches went away. So what’s the deal?

According to John Schiess, the building’s architect, heavy rains – as we had the last weekend in March – can cause deposits of lime and calcium in the bricks and mortar to seep out. It’s a process called efflorescence, says Schiess; the result: splotches of chalky stuff, usually from the type of bricks used or from an accelerant that makes the mortar between them harden faster. The chalky stuff eventually makes its way out, says Schiess.

Paris’s farewell

A formal gathering to honor outgoing River Forest Village President Frank Paris has been scheduled for May 7 at Dominican University. Paris, who spent the last 20 years on the village board, served an unprecedented four terms as village president from 1993 to 2009.

The Hail and Farewell reception, which is being called a villagewide event, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Dominican University’s social hall.

A $50 charge covers cost for food, drinks and the venue, said organizers. According to the invitation, the event is not a fundraiser. Checks are to be made payable to the River Forest Service Club – Friends of Frank Paris.

For an invitation form, call Joseph O’Connor, River Forest Service Club president, at 366-5532 or e-mail If you’re planning to attend, you must RSVP by April 24.

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