Main-Dempster Mile Valentines

I fell in love with Evanston years ago, but in the most recent years I’ve really come to appreciate my neighborhood filled with local independent businesses. When Katherine Gotsick of the Main-Dempster Mile announced a Valentine’s poster program, I made a list of all the places I loved and started having fun with limericks.

The prompts included:

  • “I remember the first day we met. You …”
  • “Remember that one time when …”
  • “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue (you finish the poem)”
  • “These are the three words i think of when i think of you: …”
  • “The next time I see you, I’m going to …”
  • “I love you because …”

Roses are red
and so is your wine
After your tastings
I want all bottles to be mine
Your Truffle popcorn is enchanting
while we toast bubbles with our friends
Your space encourages romancing
and showcases fine wine trends
You guide us how to pair our food with flair
and in summer we Frose all day en plein air
The Custer Oasis is so inspired
and your local initiatives are admired

Main street is where I usually walk, so that list was easy. But I also had plans to write for the spaces on Chicago avenue and on Dempster.

Brothers K is my go-to corner cafe, and it truly cultivates community for many generations.

Oh brother,
you have so many lovers.
Your twinkle lights beckon us into your space
where retirees, families, authors, students and workers all have a place
Whether to go or for staying in
Your coffee libations boost our daily begin.
The pastries and juices fuel us through the day
while games and books invite patrons to play and to stay
Your patio offers a sunny spot
for friends to gather and to watch puppies trot.
Please don’t ever stop serving your tasty libations,
because visiting you is a mini-staycation.

It was so much fun to think of each business and their brand and incorporate what makes them unique. Sketchbook Brewing has so many fun brews that were great to form sentences with.

It’s Pinky Sweater weather
while I observe a Snowy Owl
Sketchbook always makes me feel better
During weather fair or foul
We enter through the Orange Door
to fill that Hop Thirsty Void
and engage with Common Culture
while we discuss being employed
You’re companions to our Night Game
and during our Celestial musings
We karaoke without shame
or listen to joyous live music
Usted Amistosa
soy hermosa
and all your flavors Level Par
We love you from Coast(al) to Double Coast(al)
and tell our friends near and far

I wish I could buy Belgian Chocolatier Piron’s pralines daily, but I had to make do with mentioning them all in their poem.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue,
the best chocolate ever comes from YOUUU
We Hartje you so much as we Waltz to your store
The Fruit de Mer are perfect to take to the lakeshore
How to choose between Patrice, Truffle, Grand Marnier, or Manon
your artisan confections tempt us all year long
In Summer your Chocolate Mousse is divine
while caramel, marzipan and strawberry infusions taste sublime.
You have us skipping in Cherry Brandy Ganache clover
When Bladjes fall, Toffee Nut Barks and Hazelnut Spread tide us over.
Hot Chocolate in Winter is so warming
Your store and your staff are truly charming.

Some businesses moved the posters inside but still visible for visitors, like Dave’s Down To Earth Rock Shop.

Oh Dave’s you make my eyes sparkle
with all the glitter and gold that you market.
Your museum is perfect for kids young and old
You offer gorgeous gems from subtle to bold.
Your staff is delightful and offers such care
No question is stupid about rocks common or rare.
Whether museum, gem shop, jeweler or craft store,
You always keep us coming back for more.

I thought the posters would be from secret admirers, so I was surprised to see my name on the posters as well. Thanks to a very generous gift card I dine at the Lucky Platter often.

Squeezebox Books & Music is another shop I wish I could spend more dollars at.

Once upon a time, Main street had no bookstore (GASPPP!!)
Then a joyful DJ staked a claim
on the corner of Sherman and Main
Now he spins tunes in the summer
while offering books and records galore
The staff and vibe gets you out of a bummer
and the wide selection of goodies has you returning for more.

It was nice to be thanked though, and know that the shop owners enjoyed my wordplay. Evanston Stitchworks is such a delight.

Once upon a time, someone felt discouraged by needle and thread.
But then a miraculously vibrant and joyous storefront opened and the magical, delightful, whimsical fabrics had this person tiptoe over the threshold.
There they were welcomed by a magical sewing pixy who offered patterns and yarn and notions and books.
Soon an array of classes were offered, and tentatively this person signed up to make a garment.
Now there was a reason to make something out of the treasure trove of cloth available here.
Six weeks later, the person had a whole new garment to wear, and was so delighted that they had the courage to make another one of their own.
That, my friends, is the magic of Stitchworks, where discouraged souls come to feel creative again.

Paws & Claws Cat Rescue is super special to me, and I was happy to find their poster when my fosters were nailtrimmed.

There is nothing better than chocolate, wine and KITTENS!
No one can resist the charm of your window. Keep on serving real life CUTENESS OVERLOAD on the Mile.

What is even better is that a lot of the businesses have kept the posters up even well after Easter, and it gives me such joy to see that they liked them and that other people can still read my love letters, like YoFresh Cafe.

Your generous hearts make me swoon.
I love that you offer biodegradable spoons.
Whether alone or with a mate
picking out FroYo is like a speed-date
Your staff is always so inviting
and your space the perfect setting for games or for writing
You are amazing community leaders
and I love that you cultivate young readers

(Thank you for providing a safe space for our youngsters to hang out while feeding them wholesome treats.)

I based some poems on songs, like “If we try” by Don McLean for teh Chicago-Main Newsstand:

When I see you on the street
I lose my concentration
Just the thought that we might greet
creates anticipation
When I wander inside through your door
I see magazines from roof to floor
And now you’ve got me reading day and night
because your publications are a delight
I just never know what I might find
when I stop by

Classy Closet has amazing second-hand clothing finds.

Classy Closet rescued me
when I had a fashion emergency
Finding beach wear in December seemed a no go
but your basement finds made my heart glow
Your selection is exquisite
while your windows inspire quick visits
Your consignments are the top
making you my favorite fashion shop.

These are all places I frequent regularly, and pass by almost daily.

Oh Lucky P,
you had me at Flakey
No matter what time of day or season
For noshing with you, there’s ALWAYS a reason
Your breakfast is the sweetest
Benedict the perfect date
Brunch with cocktails is the neatest
Your dinners have me clear my plate
You’re a delicious destination
whether solo or with a mate

And Evanston Eyewear is my go-to shop for glasses.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue,
I am able to see that thanks to you
I get compliments on your designer frames daily
while the options for lenses ensure I see clearly.
Whether a bent frame, broken bridge or a nick
you ensure the repair is speedy and quick
Thanks for keeping my eye sight straight
Having you as a neighbor is simply great

Cultivate Urban Oasis has helped me with my brown thumb crises several times and is full of lovely nature-loving gift items.

When your storefront went green
it was like a dream
Anytime plant lovers have a craving
you supply the perfect haven
Part jungle, part gift shop, but always charming
the way you embrace brown thumbs is heart warming
Your green oasis is like a cozy nest
and your plant advocacy is simply the best
Thank you so much for supporting the arts
your presence on Main street brightens our hearts

Inspired Indian Cooking is one of 2 Dempster spots I wrote for.

Once upon a time cooking was scary
ginormous portions made me wary
Then you came to town and set up your shop
but I assumed your spices would make my eyes pop
“Try it,” you said, “it won’t make your tongue burn”
and with your easy instructions I was willing to learn
Med-DASH friendly and stirred in one pot
I savor the flavors and enjoy cooking a lot.

Sea Ranch Seafood and store is also on Dempster. But there are so many more I missed.

I remember the first time we met…
I was dining in an empty room, when the after-school crowd barged in. The way you interacted with each youngster while ensuring they made wise food choices was impressive, and my heart was warmed that there is a safe and welcoming place for our youth to gather for their after school snack.
Your food is delicious and your offer so many sweets
that visiting you is a genuine treat.

Other people participated too, which made me happy. This one was at Virag, which I didn’t have time to write for.

Next year I want to write more, because there are more places I adore. 

Here are some more I didn’t catch a photo of:

Eden Agora Spa:

I feel it in my fingers,
I feel it in my toes
your mani-pedis are exquisite,
and your window glows
Your facials make my skin glow
and I feel so relaxed
yes I do
It’s clear you love to pamper
truly you let it show
My muscles love you, and always will
because of how a massage makes me feel
They get untangled, they get unbent
your caring experts are heaven sent.
(After Love is All Around)

Evanston SPACE is a concert venue. I was trying to channel Petula Clark here.

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go
Just listen to the music of the popular artists
Linger in the pizzeria where the cocktails are delicious
How can you lose?
The light’s so much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go to SPACE
Things will be great when you’re
No finer place for sure

Somehow I didn’t have any JD Mills health food errands in February.

Much love to the most wholesome place on the block!
Thank you for providing all the healthful nutrients, lotions and scents we need to keep ourselves healthy and glowing.
There is always something new to discover in your store and your service is delightful.

Witchy Woman World Apothecary got their poster after I had done my photo tour. Their bath products are amazing.

Blessed be,
you’ve put a spell on me
Whether waxing or waning moon
your potions always make me swoon.
You’ve turned self care into a regular rite
and make people aware of their internal might.
You’ve promoted bathing as a ritual
without shame in it going virtual.
In blending all your special scents
your presence here is spirit-sent.
You cultivate community
where everyone is feeling free.
Never underestimate your role
in being a balm to Evanston’s souls.

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