Category Archives: Naperville Businesses

10 Reasons Why I Love Naperville Magazine and You Should Too!

Naperville Magazine_edited-1by Stuart Meyer

I grew up surrounded by the publishing business.  After my father’s early career years in radio, television and working for the local daily newspaper, he began publishing his own monthly shopper newspaper in Elizabethtown, KY which circulated continuously for over 30 years.

My favorite memories were riding around with him to visit his advertisers as they were all one big extended family to us.  As I got older and after spending enough time hanging out in his design/layout office, he taught me ad design layout… the old-fashioned way as he was somewhat of a “purist”.  No computers or desktop publishing… it was all border tape, polaroids, blue lines, matte books of artwork, hot wax, plenty of typeset and manual Royal typewriters.

Given my childhood in the family publishing business, I’ve alwaysNaperville Magazine_June 2013 Cover admired the work of Naperville magazine publisher Leah Rippe in her vision and determination over the years to build and grow a true Naperville-focused monthly magazine.  The magazine’s mantra and slogan is “Your City. Your Magazine” and they are true to their word.

Here’s my top 10 reasons why I love Naperville magazine:

10)  DESIGN worthy of a higher-end lifestyle magazine publication.

9)  Lots of LOCAL CONTRIBUTORS sharing both their talents and Naperville perspectives.

8)  Seemingly endless coverage of the LOCAL CHARITABLE EVENTS AND SOCIAL SCENE IN THE NAPERSCENE SECTION.  Our favorite challenge is to search for that rare event where our friend Ray Kinney isn’t pictured.

7)  Lots and lots of GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY.

6) I learn more about all the INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE IN NAPERVILLE.

5) Publishing depends on advertising support and I admire the ways in which the magazine blends in BUSINESS STORYTELLING as part of the content.

4) Great FEATURE STORIES and commitment to COMMUNITY NEWS.

3) The magazine is truly presented from a true NAPERVILLE PERSPECTIVE.

2) From restaurant reviews, chef profiles to the Dining Out section, there’s always a strong FOOD FOCUS.

1) Come on… it’s ALL ABOUT NAPERVILLE!  Thanks Leah!

To subscribe to Naperville magazine and event eNewsletter, CLICK HERE

SM

It’s All About Food, Community and the Experience at Twisted Olive in Downtown Naperville

Twisted Olive_edited-1by Stuart Meyer

While the concept of gourmet free sample olive oil and balsamic vinegar shops is no longer novel, there is one such place tucked away in Downtown Naperville where they have turned the concept into community through equal ingredients of passion for food, a love for people and a true understanding of the ways in which food connects us.

I first discovered the The Twisted Olive , which is tucked away down the quaint alley off of South Washington Street between Jefferson Ave. and Chicago Ave., shortly after they opened their doors I believe a couple of years ago.  The owner approached my wife and I that day with that fresh and enthusiastic smile you expect in the opening days of a new business.

With the smell of fresh baguettes in the air, I listened to the owner’s vision for Twisted Olive_bottlesthe store which stretched far beyond their gourmet oils and vinegars into classes and events.  From day one, The Twisted Olive aspired to become a community space designed to bring people together using one-of-a-kind foods as the ingredient.  The space itself includes an area with plush chairs designed for planned gatherings, events or a simple reprieve while shopping.  As for their products, the weight of our bag as we exited out to the alley was a testament to the quality.  We’ve returned a number of times since our first visit and our kitchen is regularly stocked with Twisted Olive Oils and Vinegars.  More recently, they’ve also added select wines and craft beers to their experience.

My personal favorites… OLIVE OIL – Fior Fiore EVOO and Truffle; VINEGARS:  25 Year Aged Traditional Balsamic and Lemon White Balsamic.

To those unfamiliar with The Twisted Olive, you are free to sample all of their oils and vinegars to your hearts content, which is always an experience in itself.

Congratulations to the owners and team at The Twisted Olive for your continued growth in popularity and thanks for being part of the World of Naperville!

The Twisted Olive is located at 232 S. Washington Street, Suite 6.  To visit their website, CLICK HERE

SM

Naperville’s Q BBQ Converted Me to Chicken Wings

Q BBQ_Exterior_EDITED by Stuart Meyer

Anyone who knows me knows that I nearly have a pedigree in BBQ.  My father was a pitmaster and one-time BBQ restauranteur, I’m a backyard pitmaster, I produce BBQ food media, I shoot BBQ food photography, a couple of years ago I produced “Behind Ribfest” a feature length documentary film about Naperville Ribfest,  I’m a charter member of the Illinois BBQ Alliance, I’m a member of NBBQA and my company even manages social media efforts for one of Chicago’s legendary BBQ joints.  *Deep breath*

Needless to say, joy filled my heart last year when Q BBQ, based in LaGrange, opened its doors in one of my favorite places in the world… Downtown Naperville.  The restaurant space is a wonderful tribute to the BBQ culture, with glorious smoke aromas that cover a multi-block radius, counter service, visible stacks of wood and walls adorned with framed pages from Wyatt McSpadden’s “Texas BBQ” coffee table BBQ photography book (a must have for BBQ fanatics).

Since my first visit the first week of their opening last year, I’ve just about tried everything on the menu at least twice and they’ve really fine tuned their operation in terms of consistency and quality.  The Q BBQ  meat line-up is a deliciously flavorful salute to all the great BBQ regions, from your Carolina pulled pork complete with house made vinegar sauce to their Texas Brisket (chopped or sliced) and Smoked Sausage to their KC Burnt Ends.  Did I mention ribs?  I recommend their Memphis Sweet Sauce and you definitely don’t want to miss their more recent arrival… Smoked Turkey.  Sides include a short list of perennial BBQ favorites, including fresh cut crispy fries and mac-n-cheese with a cheese-cracker crumbled topping.

Q BBQ_Chicken Wings_EDITED

Memphis Chicken Wings at Q BBQ… heavenly!

Aside from all of the above reasons to visit Q BBQ, there is one reason that has led to an almost weekly pilgrimage into Downtown Naperville for lunch… one reason this particular menu item should on the list of 100 things to eat before you die… one reason that surprised me immensely in my love at first bite… Q BBQ‘s Memphis Chicken Wings.  Allow me to premise this obsession by saying that up until my first trip to Q BBQ shortly after they opened, I was never a big fan of chicken wings in general, but these little babies are different.  First the wings are slow-smoked to lock in that heavenly flavor, then fried with a sweet rub applied while they are still hot (I presume).  The result is a rich, smokey, lingering savory sweetness.  At my small company here in Naperville, my colleague and I have declared each Friday as “Q Wing Friday”.

Thanks to Q BBQ for bringing real deal BBQ to Downtown Naperville and to everyone else… go to Q BBQ and order some of those wings… I usually do the two-meat Q plate and add the smoked turkey.

SM

SAVE MAIN STREET – Why the Whole World Needs a Little Small Town Flavor

By Stuart Meyer

The long days of the Summer of 1979 were waning and the August haze had softened the sun’s piercing rays in the Southern skies above.  I anxiously hurried out the front door racing through the invisible cloud of humidity toward the family car.  In the South, this was the time of year for which iced sweet tea was invented.

That's me... back in the 1970s with precision bowl helmet haircut.

Earlier that morning, the local newspaper sat in a state of disarray on our round family breakfast table.  As I glanced down at the pile of news, there sat a full-page advertisement partially blanketed by the Sports section.  The black-and-white text of the ad heralded the three most dreaded words feared by any small town kid who roamed freely upon Mother Nature’s playground through those long Summer days… “BACK TO SCHOOL”.

The Family Car - Our 1972 Buick Electra

As the youngest, I wrestled my way into the car and laid down on the coveted floor boards of the backseat rather than brave the smoldering aromatic blaze of the vinyl bench-like seat.  Walking barefoot over fiery coals was no match for the backseat of a 1972 Buick Electra baking atop the driveway in the heat of a Kentucky Summer.

A little ways down the road, I re-surfaced from the depths of the floorboard and turned my attention to peering out the window at all the familiar landmarks as we made our way toward the courthouse square.  As a kid, every trip into downtown was like a small town reunion as all main roads flowed into “the square”, much like the precious lifeblood which flows into the heart.

The State Theater - Elizabethtown, KY. Photo courtesy of http://www.historicstatetheater.org

The Dixie Highway flowed in from one direction and Mulberry St. the other.  The unique character of each original downtown building stood proud like a strong, yet silent actor quietly emitting its own unique story and history.  A lone cannonball fired during the Civil War still sat lodged in the second story of a corner building just down from the town’s first movie house, the 1940s era State Theater.  Just down from the square was a regular Farmer’s Market, where local farmers sold a little bit of their harvest to the community from the back of their pick-up trucks.

We arrived in downtown and I spilled out of the backseat onto the street along with my older brother and sister.  I sometimes felt as though we were related to everyone in town as everyone seemed to know everyone.  I stood there on the street for a moment and looked all around with wonder almost as if time had frozen for just a few moments.  Our destination was the People’s Store and the Factory Outlet shoe shop of which we always came through the back alley entrance.  A trip downtown to buy some new school clothes and a new pair of shoes was one of the cherished consolations of the collision course with Summer’s end and the eminent start of a new school year.

Stuart Meyer is the show creator and producer of "Small Town Flavor" a web TV show hosted by Panini Pete

Over the many years of my life which have opened and closed like chapters of an epic American folk literature work, this particular “page” of my own auto-biographical volume of small town life has remained permanently imprinted upon my heart and mind.  The collection of experiences and time spent in small towns throughout my first 27 years of my life followed by the past 12 years in the Chicago area have served as the inspiration for the web TV show I created, “Small Town Flavor”.

Small towns and their downtowns are like the “grassroots” of American life, firmly rooted as one-of-a-kind blades of grass in the rich and abundant soil of our American identity.  Life has taught me that the essence of small town life may very well contain the secrets to happiness as measured above all else by the collective and individual relationships we share with each other.  Interestingly, the scientific world is catching up as research has shown that fundamental happiness is rooted in the strength of our social connections.

In many ways, food has also defined our connection to each other throughout history.  From the time when hunting and gathering food was the main business of the day to modern times in which we use our shared connection to food to strengthen social bonds.  In small towns, local food culture is not just about subsistence, it’s ingrained in the identity, tradition, rituals and pride of the community.

I believe the next great chapter in American history is threatened by the decline of our relationships, our connection and our accountability as “neighbors”.  While we all need money to make a living, the one thing we need most to make a happy life is each other.

For these reasons, we should celebrate our small towns, share their stories, their unique food culture and enrich our lives through the lessons we can all learn from the small town way of life.   I like to think we either come from small towns or there is a little bit of small town living within us… on our streets, in our neighborhoods, throughout our cities, around our states and across our country.

These thoughts reside at the heart and soul of what Small Town Flavor is all about and we hope you’ll become part of our Small Town Flavor Family.

SAVE MAIN STREET… watch Small Town Flavor.

http://socialfrequency.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/save-main-street-why-the-whole-world-needs-a-little-small-town-flavor/

Zigfield Troy Golf – A Family Tradition of PGA Member Professionals Since 1950

Who’s ready to polish their golf game?  Or, if you’re like me, poised to scrub some of the rust off after years of neglect?  Spring is here and I’m very blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with another family business with a multi-generational legacy in sharing their unique story.

Zigfield Troy Golf is located just down the road on 75th Street in Woodridge (1535 W. 75th Street).  Back in the 1930s, Zigfield Troy Golf was born of the vision of a Chicago South-Sider by the name of Zigfield Troy.  He opened his first driving range in his teens and spent his whole life making the game of golf affordable and accessible to all.  In Zigfield’s own words, he wanted to create a “Poor Man’s Country Club”.  Over the years, Zigfield Troy and his family became familiar names in the PGA as both members and professionals.  Today, the legacy continues year-round at Zigfield Troy Golf where you’ll find an outdoor and covered/heated driving range, a 9-hole precision Par 3 course, a staff of PGA Member Professionals for individual/group lessons, a full service Pro Shop, professional club assessment/fitting/repair, a Jr. Golf Program for kids during the Summer, the Annual Zigfield Troy Open Tournament (last weekend in June), putting/chipping practice greens and more.  In other words, most everything you would expect to find at a private country club, but far less expensive and open to the general public year-round.

In a nutshell, there’s something for golfers of all levels and families where you can enjoy the game of golf without spending an entire day  playing 18 holes.  Green fees range from $7 – $12, they have family buckets of range balls and will even provide you with some clubs to hit if you don’t have them.

There is also a vacation-style miniature golf course by the name of Lost Mountain Adventure Golf as part of the facility.  So, the whole family can come along and have an memorable time.

If you’re interested in getting involved in the Zigfield Troy Golf legacy and would like to interact, get golf tips from their PGA Professionals, exclusive offers, golf trivia/history, free giveaway challenges, connect with other area golfers, updates, see Zigfield Troy Golf videos and more, you should consider becoming part of our Zigfield Troy Golf Facebook Family by CLICKING HERE.

At the end of the day, what excites me about working with Zigfield Troy Golf and will capture your heart as well is the story told in the video below about Zigfield Troy, which was featured on the Golf Channel’s “PGA Today” show.

We are indeed very lucky to live in an area where inspiring and extraordinary family stories are so commonplace.  SM

Naperville’s Vostry’s Mobile Tune-Up and Repair: An Unsung Hero of the Blizzard of 2011

To say the least, when we all reflect upon the Great Blizzard of 2011, our memories will be full of eye-popping snow drifts, jubilant kids and plenty of sweat equity invested in the ongoing removal of the crushing 18-20 inches of snow from our driveways, walkways, sidewalks and all the extra “plowed” in egresses to our residential streets.

If you’re like me, you gave plenty of pep talks to your grossly under-sized and under-equipped little snow blower as you forcibly choked their way through creating nicely squared ice mazes.

We also spent plenty of time helping our neighbors, some of which had no snow blower and were forced to face the icy white depths with only a shovel and empty expressions of overwhelmed bewilderment.

Personally, my last round of snow removal ended across the street helping my neighbor plow the end of his driveway from the icy mounded barriers created each time the city plows would come through.  I asked much of my “little snow blower that could” and while it died many times within the strangulating snow it never gave out until the very end.  Finally, after completing this last round the belt snapped and those tiny paddle blades ceased to move.

I needed convenience and a quick fix.  Truthfully, I wasn’t crazy about taking the time to load “little red” into the mini-van only to take it somewhere that may have taken a couple of days to get fixed.  Even more, I had no idea when the next snow would hit.  Thus, I recall once upon a time hearing about a local service that is a repair shop on wheels and sure enough, after a quick internet search found Vostry’s Mobile Repair and Tune-Up.

I gave them a call and expecting a long waiting list, I actually ended up getting on the schedule that afternoon.  Even more, expecting to pay a big premium for the home service I was very pleasantly surprised to find the cost wasn’t anywhere near what I expected.

After Mr. Vostry finished up, I was so excited by how easy and painless the repair had been that I asked if it would be okay to take a couple of pictures as I told him about the World of Naperville blog.  He was more than happy to indulge and I told him I would continue spreading the word about his outstanding service.  My personal thanks to Vostry’s Mobile Tune-Up for the passion and commitment they put into making these types of services so convenient here in Naperville.

Now as we head into lawn mowing season, I’ll be giving them another call to drop back by for my lawn mower maintenance as well.  SM

A Weekday in Downtown Naperville at Tasso’s Greek Cuisine, Naperville Running Company, Gelati and Le Chocolat

Not Downtown Naperville, but the City Center of Trento, Italy

The sun was shining today despite the swirling winter winds.  It was great to finally reconnect with Downtown Naperville today after having been in Europe for the majority of 2010 thus far.  A long overdue homecoming indeed.

The joy of starting your own business is you move from working most of the time to most days working all the time.  With the pressures of start-up comes the loss of those fleeting moments you thought you would have with all the new found elusive “flexibility” in your life.  Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Today I took  Downtown Naperville “by storm”, meeting my wife for lunch at the newly opened Tasso’s Greek Cuisine. My wife loves Mediterranean food and I thought it would be a “slam dunk”, however, I realized as our meal progressed that March Madness is still weeks away.  Truthfully, I wanted to love Tasso’s as did my wife, but our experience was rather average in terms of food and service.  We will give them another chance and I do hope they succeed.

After lunch, we headed down to the Naperville Running Company to appropriately buy some new running shoes, perhaps subconsciously believing that we could manifest an early Spring in doing so.  As for the Naperville Running Company, you don’t need me to tell you how great they are as their well-known reputation speaks for itself.  What a tremendous approach to small business, passion and service.  If you are a lifelong runner or considering taking up running for the first time… run as fast as you can to Naperville Running Company to get on the right track and make you feel as though you are part of the running community no matter your fitness level.

After buying our running shoes, the only natural next stop was a couple of doors down at Gelati of Naperville for a SMALL cup of gelato.  I will admit it was my first visit AND I was consuming gelato in February AND just after spending three-and-a-half weeks in Italy, so I have agreed to return when the warm weather arrives to give them another shot.  I will say that Gelati of Naperville is definitely the type of Downtown Naperville business I would love to survive as they are both local and fun Downtown Naperville option.

Finally, with shopping on her mind my wife and I parted ways and I headed for my car.  Though, out of the corner of my eye as I began to cross Washington Street was Le Chocolat Bar.  Again, I am ashamed to confess that until today I had not stepped foot into their Downtown location since moving from their obscure former location on 5th Street behind Naperville North High School.  Though I had just consumed gelato, my memories of European chocolate were fresh enough in my mind to curiously lead me through their front door.  Upon walking in, I was floored by what an amazing job they have done in creating the genuine atmosphere of “Chocotopia”.  Retail national and international chocolate to the left, chocolate-by-the-piece case to the right and a long bar farther back in the shop for an assortment of indulgent drinks.  I browsed around comparing my mental notes of the many chocolate shops I had spent time in Italy, buying gifts of course, and the experience felt very familiar.  I had to at least sample something so I approached the chocolate-by-the-piece case and was warmly greeted.  After sharing some notes on different types of chocolate, I was offered a complimentary piece of their own dark chocolate, which was quite firm but a decadent balance between sweet and bitter richness.  This is yet another Downtown Naperville business we must all support as, again, they are local and provide a memorable experience to anyone visiting Downtown Naperville.

It’s great to be back in Naperville and I look forward to a renewal of my regular visits to Downtown AND my postings to the World of Naperville.  SM