The Blog

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

Cook Cork & Fork: A True Culinary Experience in Downtown Palatine

i Oct 13th No Comments by

Cook Cork and ForkThe business is owned by a Palatine couple and provides a venue for people to come together while sharpening their skills in the kitchen.

For John Mahler and his wife and business partner, Mica, it became clear a few years back that Cook, Cork & Fork would become a reality.

Growing up, John always had a love for cooking. Every holiday, he would be up early with his beloved Polish grandmother at 4:30 a.m. starting the turkey and chopping vegetables. “It’s the way we connected,” he said.

In 2011, John and Mica attended a combined bachelor/bachelorette party for a friend where the two enjoyed a cooking class. At that time he had a comfortable, corporate job in the Chicago area.

“It was such a great time, but I noticed the cooking instructor wasn’t very engaged and I saw so many things that could have been better,” he said.

The group got to talking, and brainstormed how there could be more cook tops, some retail, and social gatherings – even corporate team building events added in. And so, the wheels began to turn.

Meanwhile, Mica, who was working at a large corporation, saw John’s passion, and together they decided he would stay home with their young son and begin to build plans for the business. Mica accepted the lion share responsibility of supporting her family as their vision, became a reality.

When they began searching for the perfect business location, the two came upon a former frame shop at 34 W. Palatine Road between Bothwell and Brockway streets in the heart of downtown Palatine. Though they had some serious remodeling ahead of them, they knew the best place for their business was right in their own hometown.

The 3,000 square foot location was completely gutted, and the Mahler’s breathed new life into the storefront. They opened their doors on March 20, 2015.

Lucio Davila, a Peruvian chef, leads all of the adult cooking classes offered at Cook, Cork and Fork.

Among the many cooking classes offered are hands-on and demonstration classes for both adults and children, in addition to private events for businesses or individuals. A vast retail area is located in the front of the store and provides everything from cutlery to cookware, spoons to spatulas, bakeware and every kitchen gadget one could imagine.

“If we don’t have it, we’ll get it,” John said. “We are truly a customer-driven business.”

Other products for purchase include olive oils and balsamic vinegar selections, rubs, salt, herbs and dips. There also is an eclectic variety of wine and craft beer that customers can enjoy along with what they create during the classes.

What also sets the business apart, according to Mica, is the sense of community.

“We are proud of the fact that our business is very family and community oriented; our staff feels like family and we are able to provide a unique experience while bringing people together,” she said.

To learn more and to book classes online, visit

Cook, Cork & Fork is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA), an organization whose goal is to promote commerce for the member businesses of downtown Palatine. Visit to learn more.

Shine Body Therapies: Shiatsu and Massage to Help the Body Heal Itself

i Sep 21st No Comments by


Italian-native and Shine Body Therapies owner Sara Vanin practices massage therapy and Shiatsu at the business location in downtown Palatine. 

Shine Body Therapies is a recently new business located at 134 W. Slade Street in historic downtown Palatine. Owner Sara Vanin believes strongly in the body’s ability to heal itself, with the aid of nutrition and massage and Shiatsu techniques that encourage a higher level of wellness and relaxation.

Vanin grew up in Italy, and there she learned as a young girl that better nutrition was the first correction that Italians made when they had issues such as headaches and body pain. Shiatsu and massage also are utilized for overall wellness.

“I found out early on that when someone has awareness of their body, they have their own tools to overcome issues, challenges and problems – whether they are physical or emotional,” Vanin says.

And so, she began studying Chinese medicine and went through 700 hours of intense training. Vanin learned about meridians, which are pathways through the flows of energy which are intuitively known by the body.

“By changing our posture, we can change our state of mind. Shiatsu specifically is about acting on the body and the mind,” Vanin says. She adds that results are cumulative, like exercise and dieting.

“Consistency is the key with Shiatsu. Ideally once a week is the best way to keep your body fine-tuned and as strong as it can be to fight sickness and even emotional issues, in some cases,” Vanin says.

During a Shiatsu session, the client keeps their clothes on. The main focus is finger pressure. It’s about the pressure, and involves stretching, much like yoga.

“It’s about the pressure applied with hands, fingers, and palms….even though you have a headache, Shiatsu will not treat the affected area, but rather pathways through the body that may be nowhere near where the pain is,” Vanin says.

Issues that are addressed through Shiatsu include back pain, digestive issues, headaches and chronic pain. Vanin suggests a minimum of three sessions in a row before an evaluation is done and a treatment plan in created.

Massage Therapy  also is a substantial service provided by Shine Body Therapies. Essential, and all organic oils are used through gentle touch to address general stress, focus issues and anxiety. The blend of the oils, according to Vanin, are based on Chinese principles.

The main takeaway Vanin wants people to know is  through Shiatsu or massage one can  learn their own body better, and be able to listen to what it is saying.

If you are a musician and play violin, at a certain point the instrument gets out of tune from being used. What Shine does with the instruments (people) is practice Shaitsu on them, which is like a fine tuning tool. It can determine what areas are out of tune, and help the instrument (the body) to find its own voice to better express itself and know its purpose more clearly.

For more information, visit

JL’s Pizza: New Restaurant and Sports Bar on South Bothwell St. in Downtown Palatine

i Sep 6th No Comments by

JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar opened earlier this year at the former Pop’s Bar and Grill location, at 19 N. Bothwell Street with an entirely new menu and updated interior. And, it’s not just pizza.


JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar opened its doors in March of 2015, in the former location of Pop’s Bar and Grill. The new business boasts a brand new menu, along with an updated interior and is the location for sports fans, including football and baseball. The restaurant is an official Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bears bar, which has a presence on the teams’ websites.

General Manager and owner Dave Gagner has been in the restaurant industry for more than a dozen years. He started his career out at Jimmy’s Charhouse in Elgin, and was general manager for Pop’s in Roselle before opening JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar this past spring.

“We’re excited to have opened our doors recently in downtown Palatine just south of the railroad tracks on Bothwell Street, and are looking forward to getting to new our neighbors,” Gagner said.

The atmosphere is family-friendly, and the menu includes a wide range of offerings, including pizza, calzones and panzerotti, sandwiches, soups and salads, specialty pastas, wraps, entrees, appetizers and burgers.

“Our focus really is on our food, and so far, the reception from our patrons has been great,” Gagner said. “A couple of standouts are the ribs and Grecian Tilapia, in addition to all of our menu items, everything is prepared fresh.”

Carry out and delivery is available for Palatine, Inverness and Rolling Meadows and there is a new private party space for up to 45 people.  A DJ will also play on select weekend nights.

JL’s Pizza and Sports Bar is opened for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and has a range of specials available. For more information, visit their website at  

JL’s Pizza and Pub is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA), an organization whose goal is to promote commerce and activity for the member businesses located in downtown Palatine. Visit to learn more.

Durty Nellie’s-40 Plus Years of Music, Food and Fun in Downtown Palatine

i Aug 16th No Comments by

Durty Nellie's

For more than 40 years, Durty Nellie’s has drawn crowds to enjoy musical entertainment and yearly events, in addition to new menu offerings and specials. 

Since 1972, Durty Nellie’s at 180 N. Smith Street in Palatine has been an entertainment mecca for people over Chicagoland.

The business was originally opened at 55 N. Bothwell Street at Wilson Street in downtown Palatine. It was purchased by Mark Dolezal in 1988 from a couple of airline pilots – who had named the business after the oldest pub in existence in County Claire, Ireland, near Munrady’s Castle.

When the Village of Palatine began to redevelop the downtown area, Dolezal moved the business in 2003 to its current location at 180 N. Smith Street, which is adjacent to the train station in Palatine. Visitors come from far and near to enjoy musical acts and fests, along with an exciting menu that is currently being built upon. It is run by Dolezal and his brother, Jimmy. 

Durty Nellie’s has always been a music venue, but there is a now an emphasis on food.  A new chef has revised the menu to include locally sourced food, with a ‘farm to table’ philosophy. All menu items are made fresh to order and nothing is frozen or canned.

Other featured items include a wide variety of micro beers, which draws thousands to the annual spring Beer Fest.

The restaurant area has weekly specials, including Meatless Mondays, Tuesday $5 burger with fries, Wednesday build your own mac and cheese and $5 specials on quesadillas Thursday nights.

In regards to events and other activities, Trivia is offered on Wednesday, Thursdays are Salsa Night and Fridays feature Dueling Pianos. 

For more information on musical acts, special events and features in the restaurant, visit

Durty Nellie’s is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA), an organization whose goal is to promote commerce for the member businesses of downtown Palatine. Visit to learn more.

Palatine Bank and Trust is Focused on the Community

i Aug 16th No Comments by

Palatine Bank and Trust

Owned by Wintrust, Palatine Bank and Trust has earned a reputation for its community involvement, while providing a wealth of personalized services to its customers.  

Palatine Bank and Trust is a branch of Barrington Bank & Trust, a Wintrust Community Bank, and opened its doors in the spring of 2005 at 110 W. Palatine Road. Since the beginning, their commitment has been to provide community-focused banking services for both businesses and individuals.

The bank’s philosophy is to take a personal approach, while offering all of the products and services larger banks do. Wintrust itself has a robust portfolio; it is the 2nd largest locally owned bank in the Chicago area, with assets exceeding $20 billion.

“As a community bank, we do ensure that there is a strong and personal focus on our client needs, whether they be a business owner or an area resident,” said Deborah Armstrong, Palatine Bank and Trust President. “Our employees are strongly encouraged to take an active role in our community.”

Community Business Lending is one of the many services provided, which is tailored specifically to client needs. Lending decisions are made locally, and clients are mostly closely held businesses. 

Palatine Bank and Trust, along with five other branches in Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park and Barrington make up the Barrington Bank and Trust charter.

All of the locations pride themselves on providing an array of services for the local community, including financial literacy, and other educational resources for the consumer as well as the business owner.

Consumer lending and compliance is handled at the Palatine branch by Bridget Witt, who also actively services business and consumer accounts.

“We are proud to exist as a hometown bank, and able to offer any service that larger banks can,” Witt said. 

For more information, visit

Palatine Bank and Trust is a member of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA), an organization whose goal is to promote commerce for the member businesses of downtown Palatine. Visit to learn more.

Harrington Manor: a Jewel for Home Décor and More in Downtown Palatine

i Jul 30th No Comments by

Harrington Manor Home Decor and Accessories in Downtown Palatine

The business carries a wide variety of items to freshen up the décor of any home. Owner Vicki Ruetsche also provides in-home consulting for customers who need assistance. 

Pictured is Harrington Manor owner Vicki Ruetsche.

Since 2000, Harrington Manor, located at 16 S. Bothwell Street at Palatine Road has been assisting homeowners in sprucing up their décor with a wide variety of products and services.

The name Harrington Manor derived from the maiden name of owner Vicki Ruetsche’s mother-in-law, who was born and raised in Ireland.

The business not only provides home accessories such as accessories, small furniture, custom floral arrangements, artwork, candles and other items, but  in-home design consulting as well, to help in freshen up the décor of any home.

Ruetsche provides these services for a nominal fee, which is then applied toward purchases.

“What I really love to do is to work with clients who need suggestions, guidance and other tips on how to create a home design that they and their family truly enjoy,” Ruetsche said. “I get a great satisfaction out of helping to create something they love day in and out.”

As part of the service, Ruetsche will bring potential items chosen by the customer to the home, so that they can be viewed in their lighting, and help to determine how they would fit.

Ruetsche’s husband John also assists in running the business. They both pride themselves on the high level of customer service, and the benefit of getting to know clients who have kept coming back over the years.

One such example is Kim Shields, who began shopping at Harrington Manor when she lived in Park Ridge more than 10 years ago. A few years back, she moved from Park Ridge to Palatine and has remained a loyal customer. she joked that she may have decided to move to Palatine, to be closer to Harrington Manor!

“What I love most is that everything here is so unique; really unusual finds that you don’t see in other shops – and Vicki has wonderful taste,” Shields said. “I love coming here, because Vicki never disappoints.”

Harrington Manor originally opened under a different name, the Oneida County Livery, in Three Lakes, Wisconsin and operated from 1993-2000. Vicki and John would often commute the six hour trip from Palatine, while her parents, who lived in Wisconsin, ran the business full-time.

The decision was made to move the busines to Palatine, where the Ruetsche’s lived and raised their family. The couple has three grown children and six grandchildren.

In addition to the wide selection of home accessories, Harrington Manor also began to sell women’s accessories in recent years, carrying jewelry, scarves and other fashion-forward items.

Among the notable lines carried at the shop are Nora Fleming, Uttermost, Periwinkle Jewelry, Flameless Candles, Mixture, Aromatique, Byers Carolers and Ginger Cottages for Christmas time.

Starting in October each year, the business is open seven days a week to accommodate busy schedules and holiday time decorating.

Normal business hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information, visit

Enjoy the Beauty of Downtown Palatine – We Do!

i Jul 20th No Comments by



The merchants, businesses and organizations who are members of the Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) love the downtown Palatine area, and enjoy supporting all the events that bring our community together. You can find our member business here

Residents can enjoy the DPBA Girls Nights Out in the spring, movie nights, music fests and street festivals, Oktoberfest, tree lightings, outdoor picnics, parades, the DPBA Sidewalk Sales in the summer, the DPBA Holidays on the Town event in November and so much more! And stay tuned for information about the Sweet Pea Pet Parade that is organized by DPBA members, and will occur during the Downtown Palatine Street Fest. 

We, the Downtown Palatine Business Association, are proud to support all of the events in our historic downtown area as we run our businesses here – and we invite you to come and visit us! We look forward to seeing you!

Sidewalk Sales are Back in Downtown Palatine!

i May 31st No Comments by

DPBA_Final_1021.pngThe Downtown Palatine Business Association (DPBA) will again host its annual Sidewalk Sales on Thursday, June 4 through Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

Take advantage of special sales and close-outs as the DPBA retailers make way for new inventory. Visit any (or all!) of the businesses listed below, and when you make a purchase, Tap House Grill will give you a discount coupon (limit one per customer per business – coupon will be distributed at store where purchase is made).

Participating DPBA members will include:

  • Chandelier Boutique-17 W. Wilson Street – 10% off entire store with refreshments and snacks.
  • Salon MMM-49 N. Bothwell Street – Goodie Bags to all adults, Salon Pens, Hair Braiding, Color Hair Extensions and a discount on products. 
  • Foxglove Cottage-19 N. Brockway Street – Everything outside of the store will be 75 percent off.  (no sale items inside) 
  • The Music Room-26 N. Brockway Street – Sales on sheet music and learn about exciting upcoming classes and workshops.
  • Anne’s Unique Boutique-16 S. Bothwell Street #D – 20-50% off selected items throughout the store.
  • Harrington Manor-16 S. Bothwell Street #B – 60% or more off outside items.
  • Cook, Cork and Fork-34 W. Palatine Road – 20% off selected items.
  • Arete Salon and Spa-9 N. Bothwell Street – 10% off all hair products (excluding tools and head bands), deep conditioning treatment with any service over $45, Thrmasoft treatment with a mani/pedi combo, book any facial and receive a free eyebrow waxing and lactic peel. 

To learn more about the Downtown Palatine Business Association and all of its members, visit their website at