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posted: 1/11/2018 10:19 AM

Craft Urban restaurant off to strong start in Geneva

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  • A handcrafted sundae from Craft Urban in Geneva.

    A handcrafted sundae from Craft Urban in Geneva.
    COURTESY OF CRAFT URBAN

  • King salmon is one of the popular dishes on the menu at Craft Urban in Geneva.

    King salmon is one of the popular dishes on the menu at Craft Urban in Geneva.
    COURTESY OF CRAFT URBAN KITCHEN

  • From left, Chef Andrew Sikkelerus and co-owners Francisco Chavez and Bernie Laskowski of Craft Urban say the new Geneva restaurant has gotten off to a strong start in the two months it's been open.

    From left, Chef Andrew Sikkelerus and co-owners Francisco Chavez and Bernie Laskowski of Craft Urban say the new Geneva restaurant has gotten off to a strong start in the two months it's been open.
    COURTESY OF CRAFT URBAN

  • The interior of the new Craft Urban restaurant in Geneva.

    The interior of the new Craft Urban restaurant in Geneva.
    COURTESY OF CRAFT URBAN KITCHEN

 
 

It's been less than two months since Craft Urban opened on James Street in Geneva, and it's been bitter cold a good part of that time.

But co-owner Francisco Chavez says he's been pleasantly surprised with the turnout and feedback at this new eatery.

"We were actually pretty busy on the holiday weekend," Chavez said. "We were expecting to see (a slowdown because of weather), but we've been operating at capacity pretty consistently."

As for favorite dishes, the restaurant has been open long enough for Chavez to know what people are enjoying.

"The king salmon we put on the menu has been selling well, as has the Craft Urban burger," Chavez said. "From a sandwich perspective, that burger has been doing very well."

Diners have also expressed a fondness for the shrimp and grits and a shrimp cocktail appetizer.

The modern point-of-sale network at the restaurant has helped Chavez keep real-time tracking of how things are selling at the restaurant, and he feels good about reporting that "things across the board" are doing well.

Chavez is not operating another restaurant at this time, focusing solely on the Geneva business. However, co-owner Bernie Laskowski also operates a gluten-free prepared-meals service in Naperville called Cinderella Paleo. It was Laskowski who fell in love with Geneva when dining here more than a year ago.

Being the new kids on the block, Chavez and Laskowski weren't going to pass up on the opportunity to be part of Geneva's upcoming Restaurant Week taking place Jan. 22 to 28.

"It's our first year, so we felt it was a smart move to get involved and get recognized from that perspective," Chavez said.

Sharing her skills:

This sentence shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone: Leslie Hunt of St. Charles is giving music lessons.

Anyone who has followed the music career of this talented singer and musician could speculate that, at some point, she would settle into a routine in which she shared her knowledge and skills with others.

That appears to be happening as Hunt, a longtime musician with various bands and as a solo act, revealed on Facebook that she is now a music instructor providing piano, guitar and songwriting lessons out of her home.

The former American Idol contestant (she appeared on the TV show in 2007) certainly has the chops to take on this task.

Our introduction to this top-rate singer came during her performance as the opening act for one of Jim Peterik's "World Stage" events with various music stars from the 1970s.

Peterik, a rock superstar with Ides of March, was quick to realize Hunt's talent was something special.

Hunt did a solo act that night, singing and playing piano on the Norris Center stage -- and it was impressive, indeed.

It appears you can contact Hunt through her Facebook postings.

Don't overlook Norris:

Speaking of the Norris Cultural Arts Center, there are so many entertainment venues at which to see concerts and plays locally, you sometimes forget that the Norris Center on the east side of St. Charles is still active in offering fine art showings and music.

This theater has been serving the area for 40 years now and most longtime residents have fond memories of seeing some great shows or events -- some featuring their own kids.

Those that come to my mind for me are Jay Leno, Brian Wilson, the American Grands piano concert when our son played, Jim Peterik's World Stage, an Ides of March Christmas show, and the year St. Charles East staged "Guys and Dolls."

If you haven't been to Norris in some time, visit the center's website to see what it has on tap in the coming months.

For those who enjoy hearing wonderful voices, the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16. When a glee club has been performing since 1859, it usually means its members know what they are doing.

Because she inspires:

Batavia Chamber of Commerce will be handing out its annual awards in a couple of weeks, honoring Marcia Boyce of Boyce Body Werks as the citizen of the year for contributions to the community.

It's part of a celebration called "Inspire 2018" on Jan. 25 at the Nagel Emporium at Abbey Farms in Aurora.

The Batavia Rotary Club is also on tap to receive the 2017 Spirit of Batavia Award for its positive impact on the community.

The chamber also hands out its Ole Awards at this event, recognizing businesses and individuals who have sparked economic growth through new construction or renovation of historic properties.

Simple resolution:

Rather than get all wound up in some ridiculous New Year's resolution that I'd never keep, I kept it simple for 2018:

I resolve to eat more tuna this year. Supposedly, it's good for you. So, I figured, why not?

A new schedule:

Some readers may have noticed my column has been in hiding on Wednesdays the past few weeks.

I was taking a breather, but also prepping for my new schedule in the Herald starting Friday, Jan. 19.

You'll see "Talk of the Towns" in this spot on Fridays and Sundays now. It shouldn't dramatically affect my topics or bantering in any way, so it's just a matter of my readers adjusting to the different publishing sequence.

The basic foundation that makes this column work, however, does not change. So, keep sending me notes about interesting things that you'd want me to know about.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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