The Blog

Downtown Palatine’s Girls on the Town is Coming Up on Friday, April 21st!

i Mar 29th No Comments by

 The Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) will present the annual ’Girls on the Town’ event on Friday, April 21, 2017 from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m in downtown Palatine.

This popular and growing event had nearly 500 attendees in 2016, and will feature 23 of the DPBA member businesses in downtown Palatine. Each will open their doors for this Friday night full of fun and feature product and service demonstrations, special offers and giveaways and exciting raffles, in addition to offering complimentary food and beverages and wine tastings.

The goal of Girls on the Town event is to provide an opportunity for the DPBA members to join forces and cast a spotlight on the products and services offered by the organization as a whole, which has a total of 24 business and organization members.

Event attendees can purchase a Passport to attend Girls on the Town for $5 on the night of the event, or at any of the participating businesses, beginning April 1, 2017. Participating DPBA members include and their locations  are listed below:

For more information about the DPBA, please visit

About the Downtown Palatine Business Organization (DPBA): The Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) is made up of 26 businesses and organizations located in the downtown Palatine area. The goal of the organization is to provide a number of opportunities for member businesses and organizations to join forces as they highlight the products and/or services each provide while engaging the local and area communities through yearly events.

The DPBA hosts/presents four community events per year: Girls on the Town on the third Friday in April, Sidewalk Sales at the end of May, the Sweet Pea Pet Parade during Palatine Street Fest and Holidays on the Town on the Friday before Thanksgiving.

The downtown Palatine business area is bordered on the north by Colfax Street, on the west by Smith Street, on the south by Palatine Road and the east by Plum Grove Road. Associate members can also be members of the organization if they are located within the boundaries of Colfax Street, Northwest Highway, Palatine Road and Smith Street in Palatine.

DPBA Members Include: Salon MMM, Snap Fitness, Harrington Manor and Harrington Manor II, Anne’s Unique Boutique, Garfield’s Beverage Warehouse, Foxglove Cottage, Monson Jewelers, The Music Room, Just Peachy Photography, Sweet C’s Bakery, CC Additudes, JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar, Arete Salon and Spa, Cook, Cork and Fork, Palatine Bank and Trust, American Legion Post 690, d’Vine Wine and Gift, Adrenaline Sports Management, Kramer Photography, Durty Nellie’s, Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce, Tap House Grill, Palatine Park District, Palatine Historical Society, and Vicarious Productions.

For more information, visit

New Year, New Resolutions to Get Back into Shape After the Holidays

i Jan 4th No Comments by

The new owner at Snap Fitness in Palatine offers some success goals and guidance to help area residents start 2017 off healthy. 

Now that the holidays are behind us, area residents may be looking to turn over a new leaf and get back into shape after indulging in the excesses of the holiday season.

Dave Czajkowski is the new owner of the downtown Palatine Snap Fitness location at 19 W. Wilson Street, and is ready to provide the resources needed to help individuals reach their fitness goals for the new year.

“For more than a decade, I worked my way up in the fitness industry from entry level to management before purchasing this location in March of 2016,” Czajkowski said. “I also have a background in personal training and management, and am here to help anyone who needs guidance.”

Among his suggestions are a handful of attainable goals that can help start area residents off on the right foot, on the road to fitness success:

  • Be consistent with workouts; 2-3 times per week is all you need to get started.
  • Train smart-combine cardio with strength training.
  • Consider working with a personal trainer to help with accountability.
  • Eat healthier; add fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, and avoid junk food or soda.
  • Supplement with protein.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep per day, to maximize your results.

This fall, Snap Fitness underwent a complete rehab, which included new paint throughout, murals and new furniture that created a comfortable, yet professional atmosphere.

The location has cardio equipment including elliptical machines, treadmills and stationary bikes, along with Cybex strength machines and a full line of free weights.

Snap Fitness offers a unique opportunity for people who work in the greater downtown Palatine area to get their workouts in before work, or even during a lunch hour, because the business never closes.

The added convenience, he says, is that gym memberships can be used at any of the more than 2,000 locations throughout the state, and across the country, if people are travelling. 

“Individuals are very busy these days and are looking for convenience; being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year opens up the opportunity for people to get a workout at a time that fits in with personal and professional schedules and obligations.”

A new initiative started by Czajkowski is to encourage business owners to provide the gift of health and fitness to reduce sick time, and increase employee productivity.

“Study after study shows employees are more productive and take less time off of work due to illness, when they exercise on a weekly basis,” Czajkowski said.

Experiencing this outcome through his own management background, Czajkowski created Corporate Memberships, so that employers have options to give short, or longer term memberships to employees at a group rate.  

“This type of gift can be used to reward an employee of the month or show appreciation for a job well done, which also serves to enhance employee performance because they feel acknowledged for their work,” Czajkowski said.

Personal training services will start at the gym in the first quarter of 2017.

To schedule a tour of the Snap Fitness in downtown Palatine, call 847-852-4425 or visit the website at

Anne’s Unique Boutique Celebrates 40 Years in Downtown Palatine

i Dec 4th No Comments by

With its roots on the North Shore, the business has grown into a highly reputable consignment boutique.

Since 1976, Anne’s Unique Boutique in downtown Palatine has grown into one of the leading consignment stores in the Chicagoland area and across the country, with more than 10,000 consigners and thousands of satisfied customers.

The year 2016 marked the business’ 40th anniversary.

Anne’s Unique Boutique was founded by Anne De Koning, an immigrant from the Netherlands who was living in Glencoe, Illinois in the early 1970’s. She sold Avon at the time and noticed that both her neighbors and Avon customers – many of which were North Shore socialites – had beautiful clothing they would wear just once or twice before giving them away. Many times, items in their closets were brand new with the tags still on them.

De Koning got to thinking about how she could find a use for their designer dresses, handbags, shoes and more while providing a benefit to her friends and contacts. She came up with the idea to create a consignment boutique, and began the search for a location. Anne’s Unique Boutique opened in 1976 at its first location on Palatine Road and Bothwell Street in downtown Palatine.

She would travel to her contacts throughout the North Shore to collect their designer clothing and accessories and bring them back to Palatine to sell on consignment. Over the next three years, De Koning’s friends and family volunteered their time to help grow the business, while her list of consigners and customers continued to expand.

The business outgrew its location in 1979 and moved across the street to the south side of Palatine Road at its present address, 16 S. Bothwell Street.

Over the next decade, the clientele grew to not only include local residents, but also shoppers from out of state. Word spread about the quality of the merchandise available at affordable prices; to be accepted for consignment, everything had to be in excellent condition, wrinkle free, dry cleaned and on hangers. All items were required to be between one and two years old, in-style, and in-season.

In the early 1990’s, Anne’s daughter-in-law, Tina De Koning began working behind the scenes, handling accounting and bookkeeping while raising her three young sons. All the while, Anne’s Unique Boutique continued to flourish, and its solid reputation grew as well.

Then, in 1999, Anne was diagnosed with cancer and sadly succumbed to the disease in March of 2000.

Tina, along with her husband, decided it was important to keep Anne’s Unique Boutique open. She had developed strong relationships and a mutual trust with the clientele, and knew the importance of providing customers with personal attention – even remembering most of the customers and clients by their first name.

“My mother-in-law always said the best form of advertising is word of mouth,” Tina said.

She worked over the next several years to maintain the respected reputation the business had earned while continuing to build relationships with existing and new customers and consigners.

In 2008, Anne’s Unique Boutique was chosen by HGTV’s ‘Shopping Detective’ to do a segment on how to shop consignment stores. Tina said after it aired, she received calls from across the country from people who wanted to buy items that were highlighted on the show. 

Over the next few years, the business doubled in size to accommodate growing inventory, which included overflow stock from North Shore boutiques and designer clothing line samples.  Shoppers and consigners continued to enjoy a high level, boutique style atmosphere.

Anne’s Unique Boutique was voted the Daily Herald’s Reader’s Choice in 2015 for consignment shops and has dozens of positive online reviews.

“Customers and clients come from all over the Midwest to shop and consign, and many even mention their childhood memories of shopping here with their mothers,” Tina said.

Today, the business carries a vast selection of designer items including Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Christian Louboutin, Chanel, St. John, Gucci, Prada and many others.

Selections include ladies, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, belts, costume and fine jewelry, home accessories, collectibles and china.

A handful of luxury items are also sold on Ebay, and specials run on a weekly basis. Brand new items are featured on the Anne’s Unique Boutique Facebook page also on a weekly basis, which can be found here: For more information, call 847-991-1976 or visit    

How consignment works at Anne’s Unique Boutique: Owner Tina De Koning determines the price of the consignment item based on her expertise and many years of experience. Items can be on display at Anne’s Unique Boutique for 90 days.

The Community is Welcome: The Palatine American Legion is Changing with the Times

i Aug 6th No Comments by

R-Post 690

Located at 122 W. Palatine Road, the Post 690 offers a number of events, activities and opportunities for the community at-large.

American Legion Posts are known by most as a Veterans organization, but the Palatine American Legion Post 690 is taking a fresh new approach in how it engages with the greater Palatine community.

The Post would like to invite community members to take part in the many events and activities they coordinate and host throughout the year.

In addition to organizing the Memorial Day Parade, the American Legion Post 690 serves lunch on Tuesdays from just $4 and has a full service bar with a pool table. Bingo is held every third Saturday beginning at 7:00 p.m. and upcoming Casino Nights will be hosted on September 9, October 8 and November 18, 2016 (for individuals 18 years of age and older). The Post is open 365 days a year to the public.

Pancake breakfasts are many times coordinated with downtown Palatine events, along with visits from Santa Claus during Christmastime, an Easter Egg Hunt and a Fish Fry every Friday evening during Lent.

All of these events and activities are open to the greater Palatine community, in addition to the Veterans who are members of the organization.

“We don’t want to lose who we are, but we also realize that we would like to be inclusive and invite the community to enjoy our facility and other offerings,” said Daphne Matthews, who is a 27-year veteran who retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy. Matthews was recently named the American Legion Post 690 Post Commander.

The Palatine American Legion Post 690 is completely self-sustaining. By opening its location and events to the community at-large, it helps them to keep their doors open. Matthews said that many Posts are forced to shut down because they simply cannot afford to continue operating.

The Post remodeled a banquet room which is available to rent for gatherings from 10-85 guests and includes 5 HD televisions, A/V service and free Wi-Fi. For more information, email or call 847-359-1606.

The Post also engages with young people in the Palatine community.

Awards are given yearly to children who write winning essays about patriotism. A certificate and a ‘challenge coin’ – which signifies going above and beyond – is given to one girl and one boy each year who enter the competition.

Scholarships are also awarded on a yearly basis to young people who are planning to attend college. One such young person is Bridget Babcock, a Fremd High School graduate, who attended the University of Illinois and joined the Air Force ROTC. She credits the American Legion Post 690 with helping her find her direction in life.

“I have had experiences I never could have imagined, and it all started because of the Legion. They were the first to back me up in support, scholarship and mentorship – I am happy to call the Post 690 home, and part of my family,” Babcock said.

Matthews said she and the Post are incredibly proud of Babcock’s achievements, as well as those of other young people who also have received scholarships.

In addition to providing many opportunities for the public to enjoy the facility and other activities, the Post has always provided an array of support services and resources for Veterans of all wars. One of the many ways this is accomplished is by hosting U.S. Sailors each year for Thanksgiving dinner at the Post.

If the Color Guard is needed for ceremonies of any kind, including a Veteran’s funeral, the Post will provide it. They also help to process VA claims and raise funds for a plethora of Veterans programs.

In the end, Matthews wants community members to know that by taking advantage of the Legion’s offerings, they are supporting Veterans. She added that the Legion is meant to be a place for camaraderie and friendship for Veterans, and for the entire community.

“It’s very special to put on the cloth of your country and to serve; it’s prideful to put on that uniform and the Post is a place of belonging for those who appreciate that,” Matthews said.

The American Legion Post 690 is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA). This organization is made up of core and associate members, whose goal is to join forces to assist with the growth and development of all members businesses. To learn more about the DPBA and yearly events, please visit

Monson Jewelers: Downtown Palatine’s Hometown Jeweler Since 2001

i Jun 7th No Comments by

The business is located in the heart of downtown Palatine at Brockway and Slade streets, and prides itself on nearly 35 years of experience in the industry with a strong customer focus.


Left to right: Brenda Schwantz, Helen Fichte, Carolyn Monson, Bruce Fichte and Tim Monson.

Monson Jewelers owner Tim Monson has nearly 35 years of experience working in the jewelry industry, and said his keys to success include building strong, and long-term relationships with his customers. He added that the business has grown due to word-of-mouth referrals, and credits the high level of customer service he and his staff have provided over the years as the reason why.

“People like to know the owner and the people that work at a business, especially when you’re dealing with something as personal as jewelry. Myself, Brenda and Bruce have been here since day one; there is a trust and comfort level in knowing us, and that we have a casual, but very helpful atmosphere here.”

Monson said the business has now been able to serve the next generation of customers, where sons and daughters of people who patronized the business when it opened, are now grown up and starting families of their own.

Though the majority of customers are from Palatine, Arlington Heights and the immediate surrounding areas, there are also many customers who live across the country.

“We have customers from out of town that will travel here to us – they’ve either moved away or were referred to us by friends of theirs who have been customers for years,” Monson said. “Trust is a big factor, and people want to get the best price and the best product to go along with that price.”

The strong connections in the community built over the years are something that Monson also finds great pride in. He says his employees treat the business as if it were their own, and that type of commitment has been a defining factor for their success.

“If we don’t have something, we invite you to just ask and we can probably get it in as quick as a day,” said Brenda Schwantz, who started working with Monson the day the business opened on November 16, 2001. “We will go out of our way to make things happen.”

Among the services and products provided at Monson Jewelers are jewelry and watch repairs, in addition to engagement, wedding, anniversary, cocktail and even custom rings. The business also provides a service where old jewelry can be redesigned into new pieces.

“The industry has moved toward a lot more custom jewelry and re-design, which we handle in an off-site location,” Monson said.

Other items include bracelets and necklaces, baby jewelry, watches, giftware, crystal and jewelry boxes.

Additionally, educating customers is a strong focus. Monson said he will explain the different types of diamonds there are, or answer any other questions that customer may have.

The business has a wide array of options for someone looking to spend between $50 and $50,000. A number of different designers and vendors are featured, all of which can be found on the business’ website.

“We are very consultative with our customers, and are all about helping them make the perfect choice,” Monson said.

For more information, visit

Sweet C’s: A Boutique Bakery in Downtown Palatine Celebrating 1st Year in Business

i Feb 15th No Comments by


Owner Celia Kallenborn comes from a family of local entrepreneurs, and stepped out on her own by opening the cake, cookie and cupcake bakery on Bothwell Street in February of 2015.

On February 21, 2016, Celia Kallenborn, the owner of Sweet C’s Bakery in downtown Palatine will be celebrating her first year in business. The boutique bakery is located in the heart of downtown Palatine at 10 N. Bothwell Street.

Kallenborn is no stranger to knowing what it takes to grow a successful business; her father is the owner of Mexico Uno, a Mexican restaurant that has been open since 1989, and is located around the corner from the bakery on Brockway Street just north of Palatine Road.   

An uncle and her parents originally opened Mexico Restaurant in Des Plaines prior to 1989, when her parents decided to open their own location in Palatine. Now, Kallenborn’s sister runs the Des Plaines business and her other siblings work at  Mexico Uno.

Since her early years, Kallenborn bussed and waited tables for her family business, and learned the value of creating relationships that develop into loyalty from customers.

“My father’s advice to me since day one was to provide a quality product and be good to my customers; it’s simple, but something I have strived to to since I opened Sweet C’s,” Kallenborn said. “The goal, always, is to ensure my customers leave happy.”

Kallenborn said she makes a point of personally speaking with every customer about their order, whether it be a specialty cake, cupcakes or cookies. And it appears her focus on solid customer service is building the Sweet C’s brand as the business continues to grow and thrive.

“What I think is special about what we do, is that we are a part of milestone events in the lives of our customers,” Kallenborn said. “A child’s first birthday, a wedding or a baby shower, and bar and bat mitzvahs are all times to be remembered, and we are honored to be a part of those days.”

‘Baby reveal cakes’ are what Kallenborn calls a new and popular unveiling for parents- to-be, where the sex of a baby is announced through the color and design of the cake at a baby shower.

“Basically myself, the doctor and the parents are the only ones who know if the baby will be a boy or girl,” Kallenborn said. “It’s a real privilege.”

Smash cakes are also a specialty for young children’s’ birthday parties, as well as re-creating wedding cake toppers for couples who didn’t save them from their wedding, or would like to renew their vows.

Other events include corporate parties, going away parties and any other type of celebration. Sweet C’s also offers catering packages.

In addition to original designs, pictures can be printed on edible paper and transposed onto to cookies and cakes. Cupcakes have become more popular for event desserts because they offer a way for customers to provide a variety of flavors for their guests to enjoy.

“We’re not trying to be the jack of all trades, I’m working to be the best at what we are good at.”

To celebrate Sweet C’s first anniversary on Sunday, February 21, one free cupcake  per person will be given out between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Visit for more information.

Special Events from Palatine Park District

i Feb 14th No Comments by

Palatine Park_vectorcolor

Visit or call 847.991.0333 for more information. 

Indoor Drive-In Movie featuring “Minions” Friday, March 4, 6:00-9:00pm at Birchwood Recreation Center, 435 W. Illinois Ave., Palatine. Enjoy a movie from the comfort of a car you decorate yourself! Bring your own large box and we’ll provide all the materials to turn it into a car. Car decorating starts at 6:00, the film will be shown at 7:00. Concessions will be available for purchase. Pre-register at using code 126060-01. $5 per child (ages 1+), $1 per adult.

Hound Egg Hunt Saturday, March 26, 10:00am at Towne Square, 150 W. Palatine Road, Palatine. You and your favorite four-legged friend are invited to the best dog egg hunt in town! The event includes goody bags, free raffle entry, souvenir photo with the bunny, two egg hunts (large dogs and small dogs), and a great vendor fair. Pre-register for just $6 per dog at using code 140100-01.

Family Friendly Theatre presents Little Red and the Hoods Monday, March 28, 10:30-11:30am (a day off school for District 15!) at Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood Street, Palatine. Our Family Friendly Theatre productions offer the perfect opportunity to introduce children to a live theater experience. This delightful tale of Little Red Riding Hood is told with modern lessons for today’s children. Tickets are just $6 per person and are available through the box office at 847-202-5222 or (online ordering fees apply).

Spring Catalog Available Soon! Watch for your Spring Catalog, full of hundreds of programs, events, and services offered by Palatine Park District. Catalogs will be mailed to residents and available for viewing on February 24. Resident registration begins February 29, and non-resident registration begins March 22.

Arete Salon and Spa: An Urban Chic Downtown Palatine Salon that Exudes Positive Energy

i Jan 17th No Comments by

Inside Arete

With more than 30 years of experience, owner Barb Mosak opened the salon and spa in downtown Palatine in March of 2011.

‘Arete’ is the Greek word for virtue and excellence, which is exactly why owner Barb Mosak chose the name for her salon and spa, located at 9 N. Bothwell Street in downtown Palatine. Mosak has strived to provide the highest level of customer service for her clients since the salon and spa opened its doors in March of 2011.

Mosak and her staff of 14 which includes hair stylists, nail techs and aestheticians, also pride themselves on providing a chic, but warm and inviting atmosphere, while helping to create a unique style that accentuates and enhances their clients’ features and overall look.

Mosak went to beauty school while she was still attending high school, and knew early on that owning a salon one day was one of her professional goals. She began managing a Chicago salon shortly after finishing beauty school, and became partners with the owner a few years later.

“I wasn’t quite ready to own a salon on my own yet, but that experience taught me about what I would need to do to be successful at it,” Mosak said.

From there, she went on to work in a variety of salons in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and opened Arete Salon and Spa in the spring of 2011 with the encouragement of her father-in-law, who brought a strong business expertise and advisory role to the business.

Mosak’s husband Bryan also helped to build the business in its first few years. “I couldn’t have done it without Bryan,” she said.

The staff at Arete Salon and Spa are very close knit, and trained not only to utilize what they learned in school, but also to take into account the client’s own style as well as the shape of the face, coloring and other unique traits to create a look that fits them.

“Hairstyling is something of an art, and all of us take a creative approach with each and every client,” Mosak said.

In addition to providing expert hairstyling, Arete Salon and Spa also offers manicures and pedicures, a full range of aesthetician services including specialized facials and peels, and waxing services.

The salon recently added Monday hours in addition to hours on Tuesday through Saturday, which can be scheduled by calling for an appointment. For more information, call 847-907-4123 or visit the website at

Salon MMM: Cutting Edge Style in the Heart of Downtown Palatine

i Dec 19th No Comments by
Pictured left to right: Mary Kay Sallee, Melissa Carroll-Chmura and Michelle Szczesny, the three founders of Salon MMM.

Pictured left to right: Mary Kay Sallee, Melissa Carroll-Chmura and Michelle Szczesny, the three founders of Salon MMM.

The business is named after the first initials of its three founders, Michelle Szczesny, Mary Kay Sallee and Melissa Carroll-Chmura. 

Since opening their doors in 2007, the three co-founders of Salon MMM, Michelle Szczesny, Mary Kay Sallee and Melissa Carroll-Chmura (where MMM comes from) have remained focused on helping their clients to look, and feel great about their appearance.

Salon MMM offers what the founders call Total Image Consulting and Design, which means from the starting conversation to the resulting style, each stylist handles all aspects of the image transformation of their clients.

“We along with our stylists are very thorough starting with the very first consultation; we help to guide our clients on what the best decision is for them. Our services are very specific to each of them,” Carroll-Chmura said. 

In addition to the wide array of services including hair design, color, extensions, keratin treatments, regular and no chip manicures and facial waxing, the salon works directly with women experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy and other causes, by providing specialized services for wigs and hairpieces.   

Szczesny, Sallee and Carroll-Chmura met while working at the same salon more than a dozen years ago. They realized that though they had many goals in common, each could bring their own area of expertise to the table, to grow a business-together.

Michelle Szczesny

Szczesny, who has been a licensed cosmetologist for 29 years, specializes in Great Lengths hair extensions, and has served as a national educator. She currently travels across the U.S. to provide on-site, Total Image Design services for high profile clientele, as well as serving her Salon MMM clients in downtown Palatine.

“I am very passionate about helping women succeed, in part, through helping them to feel their absolute best; how they present themselves is a part of that,” Szczesny said.

Mary Kay Sallee

Blonding and foiling techniques are services that Sallee focuses on, as well as keratin treatments and extensions.    

“I do a little bit of everything but precision cutting is one of my strengths; I work with clients who need detailed finishing for their hairstyles,” Sallee said.  Her background stems from more than 30 years working in elite salons located on Chicago’s North Shore.

Melissa Carroll-Chmura

“I always had a dream to have a salon in a downtown atmosphere; I wanted to be part of a community in that way,” said Carroll-Chmura, who also has more than 30 years of experience.

Carroll-Chmura works with clients who are looking for more edgy, artistic and creative hair coloring, which just so happens to match her own personal style. She also enjoys expanding upon hair extensions with creative color, many times with more than one color included in the extension.

“We are the type of salon where your taste matters to us,” Carroll-Chmura said. “We find out what you want and what will make you feel good.”


All Salon MMM employees, as well as the founders, consistently participate in advanced trainings offered through color and product lines.  “Continuing education is very important to us, it helps us to keep up with all of the latest trends,” Sallee said. Salon MMM currently employs 10 stylists, and six assistant staff.

“We have been lucky that the three of us are very complimentary; we have common goals and dreams and we know what our strength and weaknesses are.” Szczesny said.

This very statement is what each attribute to Salon MMM’s ongoing success. For more information, visit


Tap House Grill: A Gathering Place with Addictive Food and Creative Brews

i Nov 25th No Comments by
Scott and Mark cropped

Pictured: Mark Zych and Robert Scott Ward, the founders of Tap House Grill.

There are currently eight locations, and the founders of the restaurant chain are on the verge of franchising regionally, and ultimately across the country.

The concept behind Tap House Grill was born in 2005 between founders Robert Scott Ward and Mark Zych. Both men come from a strong background in restaurant management and operations, and were confident they could create a local gathering place that highlighted popular handcrafted and rare beers, along with a unique and creative menu. 

“Our focus has been on providing quality in all of those areas since the very beginning, and we believed we would find success if we built it right,” Ward said.

And that they did.

Among their locations, the first opened in St. Charles in 2006 with a second in Oswego in 2009 and a third location in Westmont in 2010. The Plainfield Tap House Grill followed in 2011, which is when they first opened their corporate offices on Vermont Street in Palatine. The Lemont location opened its doors in 2012, and two years later, the Des Plaines restaurant was established. The downtown Palatine location at Wilson and Brockway streets opened later that year and the corporate headquarters have since been moved there.

For a number of the restaurants, including Palatine (the former Mia Cucina Italian restaurant site), the ‘second man in the grill’ strategy was utilized. Ward and Zych have searched out restaurants that had previously closed their doors, and taken over the location while using basic equipment which was already in place.

Although Tap House Grill has an identity of its own, elements of the former restaurants are many times incorporated into the new locations. The Palatine restaurant, for example, uses a brick oven that Mia Cucina used to cooked pizzas. Brick ovens will now be incorporated into all future locations, according to Ward.

In the fall of 2014, Ward and Zych entered into a franchise agreement and have been preparing to expand first in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, and then in other states across the country.

“Our goal was to grow our brand, but to first ensure it was sustainable; we now have reached that point,” Zych said.

Tap House Grill is identified as a ‘comfort gastro pub’ that serves up an eclectic menu with a southwestern flair. Some of the offerings include homemade pickles, cheese curds sourced from Wisconsin, a braised beef sandwich (featured in 2011 as one of the Chicago Tribune’s top 25 sandwiches), along with hot wings that won Best of the Fest at the Chicago Wing Fest in 2013. A full listing of menu items can be found here:  

A strong emphasis also is placed on draft beer selections. All of the locations have up to 48 taps, 18 of which are standard at each. The remainder of the beer selections are dictated by local customer preferences, something Zych says has helped to set Tap House Grill apart from other restaurants competing for patrons.  

Hiring engaging employees that provide exceptional customer service are the third ingredient that are attributed to the chain’s success.

“It’s the people that make it happen; we find great employees, train them and get out of their way. It’s their interactions with the customers that make the Tap House Grill experience a truly special one,” Zych said. 

Attractions include a weekly Thursday Girl’s Night Out at all locations, and other weekly specials, in addition to a Craft Beer and Bacon Fest in the fall. Televised sports are also a major focus, where multiple televisions allow customers to enjoy Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and other sporting events.

“We have worked hard and sacrificed over the years to get Tap House Grill to where it is today, and we are very excited for the future,” Ward said.

Private party space is also available. For more information, visit the website at