Business and Community Service Awards

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Northern Kane County and its Chamber of Commerce are fortunate to boast a diverse economic base and a wide range of businesses, from those that primarily serve local residents, to manufacturers that employ hundreds and ship product around the world. It is also served by some excellent community service organizations and nonprofit agencies that improve the lives of the area’s citizens. Six businesses and three nonprofit agencies were honored for their contributions to the community at the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner in October, according to Melissa Hernandez, executive director.

The Chubby Bullfrog
The Chubby Bullfrog, 1959 Huntley Rd., West Dundee, is a sports bar, but specifically it is an Official Blackhawks Bar, recognized by The Chicago Blackhawks. It features a “scratch kitchen” with comfort foods and unusual items like Gator Bites and Frog Legs, according to Michael Morrison, owner.

“We are well known for our food because everything here is made from scratch. But we are also known as one of only about 75 Official Blackhawks bars in the whole Chicago area. Our walls are covered with hockey memorabilia and when the Hawks are playing, they are on our TVs with the sound turned up,” Morrison said.

Other sports, like the Cubs’ World Series run and Bears games, also get television space when warranted or when the Blackhawks aren’t on the ice.

The Chubby Bullfrog has been open since 2012. Morrison made it a Blackhawks bar because he is a lifelong hockey fan and has coached youth and high school hockey for 25 years.

“I grew up half a mile from the bar, so this area is home to me. I spent 11 years in Chicago, working in management positions with the Illinois Restaurant Association and as food and beverage manager for the Hilton Chicago. But then I decided to return home and open my own place,” Morrison said.

The Chubby Bullfrog was named the “Small Business of the Year” for 2016 by the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce because of its business success, but also because of its contributions to the community. Their favorite charities are the F.I.S.H. Food Pantry and the “Friends of the Fox” which works to clean up the Fox River. The bar also sponsors youth and adult sports teams.

For more information, visit www.thechubbybullfrog.com or call (224) 699-9432.

The Fox & Filly
Jewelry designer Hanan Hall has been a well-known fixture in Northern Kane County for many years. Shoppers come from miles around to purchase her jewelry, accessories and unique clothing.

Her latest venture is The Fox & Filly, a rustic boutique named after the Fox River/Valley and for the many horses and horse lovers in the area. “It also refers to the kinds of gals to whom we cater – both the city foxes and the country fillies,” Hall said.

The shop, located at 125 W. Main St. in West Dundee, has a long legacy of different names. Hall opened her first shop in San Diego. It was called the Hanan Hall Jewelry Studio. After seven years on the west coast, Hall relocated to East Dundee where she ran the Hanan Hall Jewelry Emporium for another seven years. In 2005, she decided to move the shop to Lake Geneva and there she renamed it Romantica Boutique. But four years later Hall chose to move back to the Fox Valley for personal reasons, and moved the Romantica Boutique concept to her current location in West Dundee.

“Back then it seemed that people were coming in looking for fancier clothes, so that is what I carried, along with my jewelry and accessories,” she recalled.

In January 2016 Hall decided to re-brand and re-merchandise the store. She changed the name to “The Fox & Filly,” discontinued most of the more formal apparel and chose to bring in a Southwest-Boho casual look to the clothing, as well as accessories and her custom, handmade jewelry to accent this new line.

In addition to designing custom jewelry and running the store, Hall is the lead front-woman for “The Chain,” a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, and displays her jewelry at many local art shows and vendor events in an attempt to draw attention to her shop. She also sells online at www.facebook.com/thefoxandfilly.

Abbey Tri-State Carpet and Floor
Northern Kane County is fortunate to have a large, independently-owned carpet and flooring store in the community.

Abbey Tri-State Carpet and Floor, located at 1525 Fleetwood Dr., Elgin, is owned and operated by the Lenhardt family.

With over 40 years of experience, the Lenhardts are industry specialists in design, product, sales and installation. Their friendly, knowledgeable team can help you shop in their 20,000-square-foot showroom or from the comfort of your own home.

Tri-State carries carpet, laminate, hardwood, stone, tile and vinyl flooring with such brand names as Shaw, Mohawk, Beaulieu, Nourisan, Stanton and BellaCera. They even have a separate showroom dedicated to Karastan carpets. Tri-State handles both residential and commercial clients and even installs flooring in new homes for large builders.

“What sets us apart from our competition is our knowledge of flooring products and our very long-term, experienced installers,” Kathie Lenhardt said.

They travel within a 20-mile radius for residential jobs, but will make special arrangements to travel as far as northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin for large commercial jobs.

Abbey Tri-State Carpet and Floor supports the Northern Kane County Chamber with donations to all their fund-raising events including the end-of-year dinner, St. Patrick’s Day parade, Dollars for Scholars and Women in Business. They also had a booth at the Chamber’s “Fest on the Fox” Community Day. In addition, Abbey Tri-State supports Food for Greater Elgin, Elgin Rotary Charities, Rotary 5000 and the Elgin Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, they are involved in the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation Toy Drive during the holiday season. They are a drop site and have hosted a multi-chamber event during which they invite participants to bring toys for the drive.

For more information, call (847) 695-2211.

Aliano’s Ristorante
Walking through the door of Aliano’s Ristorante in East Dundee is like walking through the doors of an Italian villa. Open since the fall of 2015 at 310 N. River St., across the street from the Anvil Club and The Depot, Aliano’s is the second venture for Mario Aliano, owner of the large and very successful Aliano’s restaurant down the river in Batavia.

“Tom Moser and the others who were trying to build up a restaurant district in East Dundee came to my restaurant in Batavia and fell in love with my food. And when they saw the passion with which I do business, they asked me to open a second restaurant in East Dundee,” Aliano recalled.

He drove north to look over East Dundee and fell in love with the look and feel of the little town. “I felt like it was a really good fit for me and it has been, ever since we opened. The people have been so welcoming and generous and I have developed a great relationship already with the schools and churches in the area by never saying ‘no’ to a request for a donation,” he added.

Aliano’s Ristorante in East Dundee, under the direction of Sicilian Chef Filippo Lombardo, specializes in Sicilian dishes, as well as southern and northern Italian dishes. Aliano family recipes, in many cases, are the basis for their popular homemade pasta, many sautéed dishes, homemade meatballs and sausages, as well as their pizza and lasagna.

“I am all about bringing back the flavors and textures I associate with going to my mother’s house for Sunday dinner,” Aliano said. “All of our ingredients – even the vegetables on our pizzas – are fresh and we use olive oils imported directly from Italy.”

They also offer a wide variety of Italian and Napa Valley wines and a fully stocked bar (with televisions) that seats 15. The restaurant itself seats 60 and the patio seats 65 during the warm months.

For more information, call (847) 844-0528.

Centegra Health System
Centegra Health System, winner of the 2016 Business of the Year award, is a locally based, three-hospital system. Its newest hospital, the 128-bed Centegra Hospital – Huntley, opened in August. It is one of just three new hospitals that have opened in Illinois in the last 35 years.

Other hospitals in the system are the 106-bed Centegra Hospital – Woodstock, formerly Woodstock Memorial Hospital, founded in 1914, and the 179-bed Centegra Hospital – McHenry, formerly McHenry Hospital, founded in 1956.

More than 800 construction jobs were created to build Centegra Hospital-Huntley for a total economic impact of $152 million on area communities, according to Michael S. Eesley, CEO. An additional $45 million is expected to be funneled into the southern McHenry County and northern Kane County communities through salaries and the purchase of medical equipment and furnishings.

Centegra Health System expects to eventually employ about 1,000 people at Centegra Hospital-Huntley.

Centegra Health System’s experts provide advanced treatments and technologies to the residents of greater McHenry and Kane counties. In addition to its hospitals, Centegra makes services available in Centegra Immediate Care and Centegra Physician Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Centegra Health Bridge Fitness Centers and at other locations throughout the region.

The System’s physicians and associates provide the region’s leading cardiovascular and orthopedics care. A complete range of inpatient and outpatient services helps community members stay ahead of illnesses and disease.

In addition, Centegra’s cardiac bypass surgery program was recently honored with the prestigious three-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and its cancer program received the Commission on Cancer’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

A dedication to exceptional care drives Centegra Health System’s mission to inspire and engage community members in their health and wellness.

Wal-Mart
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened at Route 25 and Lake Marian Road in Carpentersville in June 2016, relocating about 165 employees from its much smaller East Dundee store and hiring an additional 160 workers.

The new store offers more services than the previous store including a full grocery section, deli, bakery, vision center, pharmacy, hair salon, nail salon, Subway restaurant and fuel center. The previous store was the oldest Wal-Mart in the region and could no longer provide customers with the “all-inclusive” services they demand today, so the move to the new 183,000-square-foot store took place.

Every individual store is built and tailored to the demographics of its community, from the merchandise sold to the store layout, Phil Armstrong, store manager, said when the store opened. It is all done in an effort to bring affordable options to the community.

Wal-Mart received about $4.3 million in tax increment financing funds from Carpentersville to help with construction costs, but in return it is expecting Wal-Mart to generate about $1 million a year in sales taxes. It is also expected to draw more people to the village who can then see how Carpentersville has changed in recent years.

Wal-Mart is already making itself an integral part of the Northern Kane County community, presenting $2,500 checks to the Boys & Girls Club of Dundee Township and to FISH Food Pantry during their ribbon-cutting ceremony. They have also supported the Shop with a Cop program with a grant and employees raised $1,500 to donate to the Susan G. Komen fund.

Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township
The Boys and Girls Club of Dundee Township is the second-largest Boys and Girls Club in Illinois, serving over 3000 members annually. It was founded in 1997 and today has eight club locations throughout Carpentersville.

“The fact that our clubs are based in the schools has helped us to grow because we provide after-school activities from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The kids, in grades 1 through 12, come to us right after the bell rings and the annual fee for each child is only $25,” said Curt McReynolds, president and CEO.

During those four hours, the children experience a variety of life skills courses. They also spend an hour on homework and enjoy recreation and a snack.

“Our goal is to transform these children and level the playing field for them. When they come to the club it doesn’t matter what their mom or dad does for a living or what clothes they have on. We try to give them the best possible experience and help to bridge the gap between them and their wealthier classmates. We like to say they get four hours of magic at the Club,” McReynolds said.

Club activities are provided by a fully-vetted staff that includes 11 full-time and between 55 and 65 part-time employees, he said.

A 30-member board oversees the operation and helps to sustain their $1.5 million annual budget. Thirty-eight percent of their funds come from the federal government and the rest come from individual and corporate giving and fund-raising activities.

“Since we have been around for 20 years now, we are starting to see some of our alumni come back and become part of the community as police officers, teachers and businesspeople. It is great to see them blossom and become productive members of the community,” McReynolds added.

For more information, visit www.bgcdt.org.

Shop with a Cop
Shop with a Cop is an independent nonprofit that is supported by five local police departments including Carpentersville, East Dundee, West Dundee, Gilberts and Pingree Grove. It started in both Carpentersville and East Dundee in the late 1990s and additional departments have joined in over the years. It was incorporated as a separate nonprofit in 2007, according to Griselda Hernandez, secretary, and the Carpentersville Police Department’s social worker.

Through a grant from Wal-Mart, donations from individuals, businesses and churches, and fund-raisers, the organization raises funds to support their year-round activities. The police departments contribute by supporting and encouraging their police officers and employees to actively participate in Shop with a Cop activities and to serve on its board.

Their signature event, of course, is the Shop with a Cop activity on the first weekend of December. It begins with a lunch for the officers, children and families in the St. Monica Church hall in Carpentersville. Then approximately 50 officers from the five communities, supplemented by officers from the Illinois State Police and other local police departments, are paired with the approximately 100 children. If there are siblings involved, they all go with the same officer, as well as with at least one civilian volunteer.

“We ask police officers, school social workers and family liaisons to nominate children who they feel would enjoy and benefit from a positive interaction with a police officer because people don’t call 911 when they are having a good day,” said Joe Pilarski, president, an officer in Carpentersville. “Not all of the children are underprivileged. Others are ill or have other issues but they all love it and so do the parents.”

On average the program serves 100 children each December. The group also distributes turkeys and all the trimmings to needy families each November, takes house fire victims shopping for clothes and other needed items and sponsors a lunch program.

Visit shopwithacopdundeetownship.org for information on how you can help.

F.I.S.H. Food Pantry
Now in its 46th year, the F.I.S.H. (Friend I Shall Help) Food Pantry, located in the Meadowdale Mall in Carpentersville, is an independent nonprofit that was started in 1970 by a local resident named Ruth Merriam. It was named the 2016 “Community Service Organization of the Year.”

“Ruth saw the need and started the pantry from her garage. Over the years it moved around a lot, sometimes being located in local churches, until it finally landed in the Meadowdale Mall which has never charged us rent,” said Mary Graziano, president.

During 2016, she estimated, the pantry served over 30,000 individuals from Carpentersville, East and West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow and Gilberts.

F.I.S.H. gets much of its food – like deli products, bread and bakery items, fresh and frozen meats and produce from local grocery stores. Other items come from area food drives and from local gardeners who share the excess from their gardens. F.I.S.H. also relies on both cash donations and food donated by groups and individuals. Cash donations can be quadrupled when food is purchased from the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

F.I.S.H. hopes to move to much larger quarters in the mall in early 2017. This will allow them to consolidate all of their storage and operations in one space and will also allow F.I.S.H. to be set up like a grocery store, allowing patrons to “shop” for what they want instead of placing their order when they sign in as has been done for years.

In addition to providing food to needy families, volunteers also distribute gently-used clothing when it is donated. There is currently a need for cold-weather clothing.

The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, as well as Wednesday evenings and new volunteers are always welcome. For information, call (847) 428-4357 or visit www.thefishfoodpantry.org.