Wednesday, September 17, 2008

News-Star: "Uptown Polishes Its Gems"

Uptown United, Business Partners, recognize those who’ve made a difference


Community leaders, merchants and residents turned out in force for the Uptown United and Business Partners, the Chamber for Uptown annual dinner last week at the Saddle and Cycle Club.

The dinner celebrated the chamber's 85th anniversary and reflected on Uptown's current revival, evidenced by the new businesses moving into the neighborhood, development and restoration of vintage buildings. But the highlight of the evening was the first "Uptown Gems Awards" to community leaders and institutions which have had an impact on the neighborhood.

Read the rest of the story, including the winners and honorable mentions, here.


  1. Let me just start by saying kudos to all the Uptown businesses mentioned, which include many of my regular hangouts in the 48th ward!

    Having said that, I have to say what yet ANOTHER disappointment from the Uptown "Chamber of Commerce/Business Partners". Everyone knows the difficulties that businesses have in coming to our Uptown community and fighting the odds to stay open. Many of my neighbors submitted their votes in this contest.

    You will note that all the businesses recognized are very popular locations in the 48th ward (Fiesta Mexicana, Shake, Rattle & Read, Crew, Soggy Paws, Marigold, Agami, Demera, etc.)and deserving recognition.

    I find it odd, however, that not one of the 46th ward businesses that have been pioneers on Wilson Ave. were even mentioned, though I know many of my friends and neighbors nominated them...come on, not even an "honorable mention" for Magnolia Cafe, Alma Pita, Unique So Chique, or Nick's Bar??

    And I know dozens of people who nominated Molly Phelan for her tireless work in the community as "most admired person"...not even an honorable mention for her?

    Ultimately, the Business Partners (in spite of an inspiring speech by Christie Hahn at the Uptown community crime meeting) remains a small group of people who know it's easiest to talk about 48th ward businesses, but when it comes to crossing the ward boundary remain Shiller lapdogs who don't want to do anything to upset her.

    Oh, I forgot, there is a 46th ward business mentioned--Tattoo Factory--of course that makes sense, Paul the owner is the head of Business Partners and a strong supporter of alderman Shiller. I guess his vote for himself weighes heavier than those of people who actually LIVE in Uptown's 46th ward (unlike him).

    Hopefully next year, they'll be more inclusive if they do a similar event. In the meantime, I'll pay more attention to the great work that WAMA (Wilson Area Merchants Association) is doing when it comes to business development, support and recognition!

  2. Well said, tjm. I have to believe that a very few uber-politically connected people like SueEllen Long and Paul from Tattoo Factory sort through a list and hand-pick what *they* want.

    While they (Business Partners) are having receptions to honor their chosen businesses, a group like WAMA is actually *doing" something like organizing "Experience Uptown" that actually supports *all* the businesses in Uptown.

    Christie has been a great addition to Business Partners. But until there is new leadership replacing people like Paul and SueEllen with new blood and new ideas to work diligently toward having a true chamber of commerce model here in Uptown, I'm afraid that the Uptown Business Partners is just "business as usual".

  3. tjm, not to take away from your wonderful points, but a few 46th Ward businesses did get honorable mentions (Official list below). However, the slant toward the 48th Ward was pretty amazing.

    Most Inspiring Space or Place, Natural: Montrose Beach
    Most Inspiring Space or Place, Man-made: Lobby of Uptown Bank Building
    Honorable Mention: Peace Garden-Buena & Lake Shore Dr., Uptown Theatre, Aragon Ballroom

    Free & Fun Location: Graceland Cemetery
    Honorable Mention: Montrose Dog Beach

    Favorite Night Spot: The Green Mill
    Honorable Mention: Aragon, Nick's, The Spot

    Favorite Dish: Hon Kee's Hot & Sour Soup
    Honorable Mention: Maki at Agami Sushi, Peking Duck at Sun Wah, a slice of Gigio's pizza

    Best Long Time Biz, Restaurant: Fiesta Mexicana
    Honorable Mention: Alma Pita

    Best Long Time Biz, Retail/Services: Shake, Rattle & Read
    Honorable Mention: Uptown Bikes, Uptown Car Wash, Tattoo Factory

    Best Long Time Biz, Entertainment:
    Black Ensemble Theatre, Pegasus Players

    Best Up & Coming Biz, Restaurant: Crew Bar + Grill
    Honorable Mention: Marigold, Fat Cat, The Spot, Carmela's, Demera

    Best Up & Coming Biz, Retail/Services: Soggy Paws

    Best Up & Coming Biz, Entertainment: Annoyance Theatre

    Uptown Inspirations: Studs Terkel, Rita Simo, Dave Syfczsak

  4. When you look at the
    very cool google map
    that a reader made that highlights the restaurants mentioned in our "Favorite Eats" thread, they're split pretty evenly between the 46th and 48th Wards.

  5. RE: Tattoo Factory got over 200k TIP $$ to move across the street. It pays to kiss up to the alderbeast

  6. The insinuation that some appear to be making is that this vote was "fixed". If anyone has any evidence at all of that being the case, then please do tell... Otherwise, this just sounds like a bunch of sour grapes, who are disappointed that their own personal favorites didn't get picked.

  7. Seriously, I thought this was a positive piece about Uptown. Why all the complaining?