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updated: 12/8/2012 5:40 PM

Red Gate bridge to open Saturday

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  • Holiday decorations at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva are always top-notch.

      Holiday decorations at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva are always top-notch.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • It's a bright, festive environment during the holidays at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva.

      It's a bright, festive environment during the holidays at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • It's a bright, festive environment during the holidays at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva.

      It's a bright, festive environment during the holidays at Dodson Place in downtown Geneva.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer


It may have been brought up even years earlier. But I do recall, when in the library a few years ago, spotting the topic when glancing at a St. Charles newspaper from around 1920.

And there it was, front and center. City officials were suggesting a bridge was needed to cross the river north of the city. The premise was simple: Over time, they'd probably wish they had it.

Well, here we are, almost 100 years later, and the new Red Gate bridge is finally expected to be open for traffic next Saturday.

What will this do to downtown St. Charles traffic? That's been the $64,000 question over the past few decades. My belief is it surely can't hurt. Just as the Prairie Street bridge helps at least a little, the Red Gate span should do the same and more.

Lots of folks live in the northern section of St. Charles Township and, hopefully for most of them, the new bridge can help them avoid Main Street during rush hours.

Baldwin's big visit: The Alec Baldwin sightings were heavy throughout the area during Thanksgiving week, as the Hollywood star was in St. Charles reportedly visiting a niece during the holiday.

Kimmer's Ice Cream in St. Charles confirmed as much, saying Baldwin stopped in for ice cream with his family and commented about how much he enjoyed the ice cream selections -- while signing a Kimmer's Ice Cream shirt.

So what would I say if I bumped into this hilarious actor? That my wife and I laughed so hard we were crying during "It's Complicated." But I'd also have to confess that I have seen only a few episodes of "30 Rock," though I do think it is a good show.

As we've brought up before, this area has a lot of appeal to movie and musical stars, especially those who play the Arcada Theatre, because they likely don't get much exposure to small towns where they can hang out with the locals.

Last call for tables: Geneva History Center executive director Terry Emma tells me a couple of tables remain for those interested in a Geneva tradition first started at the Little Traveler 80 years ago -- the annual Crèche Luncheons Thursday and Saturday.

The holiday luncheons at the history center highlight the antique Neapolitan Nativity set that graced the Traveler starting in the 1930s. Geneva "notables" serve as waiters, and the high school's culinary department prepares the food. Tickets cost $55 and are available by calling (630) 232-4951; the money helps the center keep the Nativity set in good shape.

From dance to nutrition: Jamie Vargo is taking her business smarts related to dancing and hoping it can also convert to success in the nutrition world.

Turns out that Vargo, who operates Vargo's Dance on State Street in Geneva, will also operate the Smuzi Juice Bar on Third Street that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Vargo hopes to open Smuzi the first week of January, as she has been working with head chef Teresa Haines to create "healthy, delicious juices and smoothies," she said.

"The basis for the business is that in today's society it is very difficult to know where our food comes from, what chemical was sprayed on it, and how it was treated," Vargo said. "Our busy lives also lead us to eat foods based solely on convenience and not quality."

Under that scenario, the human body suffers, Vargo added.

When possible, Smuzi will "always use local, organic and sustainable ingredients," Vargo said.

Beefy troubles?: There's something about these Italian beef joints that pop up and then seemingly disappear. Such appears to be the case for the 2 Brothers restaurant that recently opened on the west side of St. Charles. It is now empty, with commercial real estate telephone numbers in the windows.

It's possible 2 Brothers could surface somewhere else in the area, but I suspect they just weren't selling enough sandwiches. I ate there a couple of times and found it to be a pretty decent place.

Mac back in Batavia: Now that was fast. In addition to making your food fast, McDonald's apparently knows how to rebuild its restaurants fairly quickly.

It's only been three months since the wrecking ball knocked down the former site on Wilson Street to make way for a new building with a double drive-through.

The restaurant had its soft opening last week, but there's a bonus in store for Batavia residents with young kids who have been eager for McDonald's to reopen. Ronald McDonald is scheduled to appear at the new site for the grand opening next Saturday. He'll help cut the restaurant ribbon at 11 a.m. with city and chamber of commerce officials and then hang out until about 1 p.m.

McDonald's is now making a pitch for a similar rebuild of the west side restaurant in St. Charles.

Festive locations: As usual, Geneva's Christmas Walk brought out plenty of visitors last Friday, essentially completing the holiday decorations cycle in the Tri-Cities.

With our towns all bright for the holidays, I will make this festive observation. My favorite settings in each town are Lincoln Park in St. Charles, Dodson Place in Geneva and the Riverwalk in Batavia.

Christmas Eve eats: I've never gone to a restaurant for Christmas Eve dinner, so I wasn't much help to a reader who asked for my suggestion on a good place to go for dinner that night. So, if anyone has a favorite they'd like to pass along, I will share some of the ideas next week. Send a note to my email address below. I suspect the dining listings Friday in Time Out! -- the Daily Herald's entertainment section -- would provide some decent ideas as well.

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