All About the Experience
Unique and entertaining experiences make life interesting and several area businesses endeavor to offer them.
Chicago Casino Suppliers
Chicago Casino Suppliers has been facilitating interactive corporate, charity and private events for over 10 years. Owned by husband and wife Bert Kaulen and Casey Plasch, the Naperville-based agency entertains crowds with live entertainment by providing authentic casino gaming tables and professional staff for events as well as innovative decor, custom installations and lighting.
“We often partner with hotels to facilitate these special events,” Kaulen said. “It is a great way for hotels to keep food and beverage business on site for larger gatherings.”
“These events provide a great way for people to get up and have fun after a long day in the conference room and is also the perfect setting to get guests interacting with one another,” he added.
Lab Z/TEDx Naperville
It’s all about the experience. From the customer experience, patient experience, employee experience, brand experience, buying experience, etc. Experiences have become the most important and impactful way companies differentiate and compete today. The demand for experiences from both consumers and businesses is proven; yet many businesses don’t quite know where or how to start.
Arthur Zards, Founder of Lab Z, helps organizations turn customer interactions, sales pitches, keynote speeches, events, summits, training workshops, even brands into memorable and engaging experiences.
He is a sought-after expert “experience” consultant working with clients such as Johnson & Johnson, Navistar and Nokia.
Zards also is the executive director and founder of TEDxNaperville, the Midwest’s largest idea-based conference. He has worked with over 200 speakers and coaches new and experienced speakers on delivering their talk of a lifetime.
Groups and individuals looking for a relaxing and convivial experience – either blissfully alone or with friends, family members or colleagues – can find it at the Naperville Pinot’s Palette, a “paint and sip” studio at 175 W. Jackson Ave., Ste. 123.
For the past six years, Pamela Bartlett has been offering daily public classes and a fun venue for private events. The private party room is perfect for bachelorette parties, corporate outings, birthdays or any type of group. Painting is an escape from technology where you can create memories, as well as art for your walls.
“This is a place to unwind and do something entertaining with your friends. No experience is needed since our professional artists guide everyone step-by-step,” Bartlett said. “Our events bring people of all ages together. In fact, we recently had a young man who brought his grandmother here.”
Pinot’s Palette offers a variety of paintings on wood and canvas. They also offer chunky blanket classes, painted tea trays, stenciled wood signs, painted wine bottles and much more.
North American Pizza and Culinary Academy
The North American Pizza and Culinary Academy in Lisle is a recreational cooking school with a heavy focus on pizza. Their cooking classes focus on education-led and curated by classes, said Renee Gabbett, director of the culinary program.
“When we aren’t teaching, we bring in experts in various fields to teach a variety of topics including French macarons, home bread-baking, Espresso pulling, latte art and even street tacos,” she said.
Located at 1970 University Ln., the Academy also offers corporate team-building events; hosts parties and events of all sizes; sells high-end pizza kitchen equipment; consults for restaurants; does research and development work for corporations; rents out its production kitchen; and will soon begin catering events, said Anthony Iannone, owner.
It is also the second official U.S.-based branch of The Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, the oldest and most prestigious pizza school in Italy. The Lisle branch is led by Leo Spizzirri, Master Pizzaiolo Instructor. He regularly certifies pizza chefs from all over the world.
Music, Art and Theatre
Naperville Art League
Naperville Art League, established in 1961, is a nonprofit, volunteer organization of over 200 members dedicated to promoting and supporting visual arts and encouraging artists within the community. It offers hands-on art classes year-round for adults and children, and has a gallery where new “for sale” work is displayed each month.
Its Naperville Fine Art Center & Gallery is located at 508 N. Center St. The League plays an integral part in the Naperville community, offering classes in watercolors, oils, mixed media, fiber art, needlecraft, mosaics and much more, as well as open studios and a gallery/gift shop, said Executive Director Christine Banks. Each year, the League serves over 500 students of diverse skill levels and ages, from preschoolers through seniors.
Members are also dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of the arts for the cultural enhancement of the community. Naperville Art League has been involved in creating public art in Naperville since 1984 when it commissioned the striking 15-foot-high, red sculpture on the city’s Riverwalk entitled “Landforms.” The League also supports the Century Walk, Naperville’s public art project, as it advances in depth and magnitude. The colorful mural on the Naperville Art League building is part of the Century Walk.
The Riverwalk Fine Art Fair, founded and run for 33 years by the league, has earned the reputation of being one of the country’s top outdoor art fairs. According to Debbie Venezia, director of the fine art fair, this highly acclaimed event draws over 70,000 festival goers to downtown Naperville the third weekend of September.
League members are active throughout the year. Monthly “Fourth Friday” social gatherings, open to the public, include refreshments, entertainment and current gallery show award presentations. A Holiday sale runs mid-November through December. Guest exhibits and special events are ongoing. Naperville Art League welcomes new members.
Theater lovers seeking musicals, comedies and farces don’t have to leave Naperville to indulge their love of drama. Since 2011, BrightSide Theatre, Naperville’s only professional theater company performing in the heart of the historic downtown district, has been performing three mainstage shows and a BrightSide Theatre Youth Project production at the Theatre at Miley Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., at North Central College, said Jeffrey Cass, artistic director.
This year’s mainstage season shows are the family-fun musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, the hilarious comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and a musical adaptation of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” These shows perform for three consecutive weekends, playing Friday and Saturday evenings with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.
The BrightSide Theatre Youth Project will present the “Fame the Musical Jr.” for children and families two weekends in March with matinees on Saturdays and evenings on Sundays.
Founded by three actors who sought a professional theater in Naperville to perform and bring happiness to the world through musicals, comedies and farce, the BrightSide Theatre continues to be led by Naperville resident and founding member Julie Ann Kornak.
Recently BrightSide Theatre added classes for beginners to professionals ages 4 to 104, Cass said. Classes are on Saturdays in Downers Grove and there are also special “school day off” sessions.
The MAC at College of DuPage
For the past 32 years, McAninch Arts Center (better known as The MAC) at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn has been providing the community with approximately 360 events per year, ranging from student performances to World Class professional touring companies, comedians and musical arts, to free movies as well as New Philharmonic Orchestra performances and plays and musicals performed by the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. The Arts Center is also home to the Cleve Carney Art Gallery, which houses the largest collection of contemporary art in Illinois, outside of the Chicago, said Diana Martinez, director.
The MAC is home to the 820-seat Belushi Performance Hall (named for Jim Belushi, a well-known former student), as well as the 200-seat playhouse and a 100-seat studio space. The outdoor Lakeside Pavilion space is where up to 3,000 can enjoy performances while sitting on the lawn for a Ravinia-like experience.
In addition to offering live performances, The MAC periodically offers live broadcasts from London on a large screen; master classes for students by touring artists like Stephen Schwartz, the lyricist and composer of “Wicked;” and lectures by notables like Michael Rezendes, a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe Spotlight team that investigated the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
By establishing The MAC as a central location in Chicago’s western suburbs to experience all the arts under one roof, COD has demonstrated its commitment to the arts, Martinez explained. The MAC has always remained committed to its mission—to encourage artistic expression through the creation of enlightened performance and educational opportunities; to establish a lasting relationship between people and the arts; and to enrich the cultural vitality of the region.
Wentz Hall at North Central College
Since its opening in 2008, the 617-seat Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College has been hailed as the premier destination in Chicago’s western suburbs to appreciate performances of classical, jazz and contemporary music. Its state-of-the-art acoustics were designed by the same firm that designed the acoustics at Chicago’s critically acclaimed Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The venue is also ideally suited for recording.
Located at Chicago Avenue and Ellsworth Street in downtown Naperville, Wentz Concert Hall has hosted such notable classical performers as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma and Lyric Opera of Chicago soloist Elizabeth Futral; jazz legends Herb Alpert, Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis; and such contemporary artists as Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Colbie Caillat and Los Lonely Boys. The hall is the west suburban home of the Chicago Sinfonietta, home of the DuPage Symphony Orchestra and is an incomparable venue to showcase bands, orchestras and choirs of area high schools as well as the college musical ensembles and soloists.
North Central College is also the home of the 1055-seat Pfeiffer Hall (circa 1926) which regularly hosts dramatic productions and large-scale concerts; the 240-seat Swallow Hall with its thrust-theater-style stage; and the very flexible Madden Theater that can seat up to 150. Across all four venues, the college hosted approximately 600 wide-ranging performances during 2017.
“It is rare that we have a totally dark week and sometimes we have simultaneous performances in all four of our venues,” explained Brian Lynch, North Central College’s fine arts director.
Hit the Links
Golf is a popular pastime in Napervile and a number of members cater to that avocation.
White Eagle Golf Club
The Arnold Palmer-designed White Eagle Golf Club has been one of Naperville’s hidden gems since 1989. The 163-acre private membership golf course is made up of three nine-hole courses and has a lovely clubhouse that can be rented by non-members for private parties and weddings. The course may also be reserved for golf outings.
White Eagle currently boasts approximately 460 members in three categories and offers them golf, swimming, tennis and dining. There is always live music on weekends and a wonderful chef who not only prepares delicious meals, but also creates interesting twists on classic cocktails, said Kristin Giannini, director of clubhouse operations.
Outdoors White Eagle boasts a vibrant golf program for all, including juniors, ladies and seniors.
In fact, an initiative of significant upgrades to both the clubhouse and the golf course was recently completed. The golf courses bunkers have been entirely renovated and so have the clubhouse’s banquet facilities, dining room and member bar. Banquets for as many as 350 guests may be accommodated.
Springbrook and Naperbrook Golf Courses
The Naperville Park District boasts two golf courses – Springbrook Golf Course at 2220 83rd St., opened in 1974 and is regarded as a beautifully landscaped, traditional parkland course and Naperbrook Golf Course in northwest Plainfield, which opened in 1991. Naperbrook is a links-style course with rolling hills, tall grass and wide open views.
Both courses are 18-hole, par 72 courses that can play as long as nearly 7,000 yards. They each sport four sets of tees and provide quite a challenge to golfers of any skill level, said Kevin Carlson, superintendent of golf operations for the park district.
“We offer a wide variety of golf programs for all ages, designed to grow the popularity of the game of golf,” he explained. Springbrook recently received practice tee and driving range improvements and Naperbrook will receive similar upgrades soon. In addition, both courses will receive more significant course renovations and updates in 2021 (Springbrook) and beginning in 2022 (Naperbrook).
Topgolf, located at 3211 Odyssey Ct., Naperville is a sports entertainment complex that features an inclusive, high-tech golf game that everyone can enjoy, an outstanding food and beverage menu, climate-controlled hitting bays, billiard tables and other games, as well as music. Every Topgolf literally has an energetic hum that you can feel right when you walk through the door.
Best of all, it doesn’t matter the Chicago weather we are enduring. You don’t have to be cooped up and bored because Topgolf is open and ready for play, thanks to special snow removal equipment and heated targets and hitting bays, explained Mary Sprow, Director of Sales.
Beyond the hitting bays, Topgolf features breakfast, lunch and dinner service every day, weekend brunches, a three-season outdoor deck with fireplace, approximately 300 television monitors, a huge island bar and plenty of room for shuffleboard, Giant Jenga, Connect 4 and billiards. Special events like Watch Parties, trivia contests, kids’ camps and much more are plentiful.
Topgolf may also be reserved for private parties of all types, including corporate events, bachelor parties and children’s birthday parties.