On a beautiful Spring Day there is nothing like a stroll down Grand Avenue. The streetscape has to be one of the most varied in the City as you start at Michigan Avenue at Nordstrom’s and start heading West. The North Bridge shopping mall doesn’t get the same kind of international press as Water Tower Place but there are some great shops there.
Now since we’re just getting started we can’t stop for a beverage, but just a block West is the Rock Bottom Brewery, with one of the rowdiest roof decks in town. As you keep going West there are even more temptations like Mastro’s steak house, the sizzling servings at Brazzaz – The Brazilian Steakhouse, the authentic feel of Fado’s Irish Pub, delicious Italian food at Maggiano’s Little Italy, and more.
But let’s get out of our partying mode and look at a place that gives hope to over 10,000 grateful animals every year, the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society. Last Fall they finished a huge renovation project that doubled their space for holding animals until a lucky new owner can come along. Who would think a non-profit organization could survive in one of Chicago’s most expensive neighborhoods? Thanks to many generous people they not only survive but thrive!
Well, the walk has been invigorating but there’s still enough energy left to hit the home of lavish exercising, the East Bank Club of Chicago. I’ll subtly mention that it’s just a block from where I live, so my excuses for not working out have now dried up. It’s been around over 33 years. Speaking of roof decks, this one is simply huge! And just look at that equipment, lined up like pews in a church. Hmmm – dare we say the East Bank Club is the Cathedral of Cardio?
After that workout it’s time to “bury” my troubles at the Twisted Spoke at Grand and Ogden. Home to cold beer, the best Bacon and Egg sandwich in town, and eclectic vintage movies after midnight on Saturdays.
I’ll finish off with a tribute to one of those old West Grand Avenue businesses that don’t have the flashy panache of the hot clubs and restaurants that lie closer to the Lake. It’s the kind of place where a hard working family makes good, solid products for generations, in this case the dividers and boxes that protect goods as they get shipped around the country and overseas. M & M Box Partitions, just as much a part of Chicago as the River North social scene.
Why would I pick out that business among all the other valuable enterprises along our famous street? Well, it was owned by a special man who came over from Bari, Italy and achieved the American Dream. The patriarch of a large Chicago family – a Grandfather, Father, and beloved Uncle who died almost three years ago. May he rest in peace on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend, love him forever, my Uncle Joe Mariella.