Matt Zahora earned his first airline pilot's seat at the tender young age of 19, his lifetime of practice flying giving him the skill to navigate an aircraft even before he earned his degree in Aviation Management. With over 5,000 hours of flight experience in dozens of types of aircrafts under his belt, he decided it was time to open his own business, Chicagoland Aviation. Drawing on his wealth of knowledge, he helps groundlings become pilots and pilots to purchase their first aircraft.
Formed by a pack of game-changing new comedians, The Comedy Studio's casual laugh lab hosts both acclaimed funny people and fresh faces. The jam-packed schedule ensures plenty of opportunities to take in a show. The 8 p.m. shows break up the monotony of a chaotic workweek but end early enough (10 p.m.) to curb next-day exhaustion. Seating is determined on a first-come, first-serve basis. The all-ages facility provides a funny-bone-fondling venue for blind dates, out-of-town visitors, or disgruntled neighbors.
Named in honor of local firefighters and police, The Department's restaurant and liquor lounge serve modern cuisine in a loft-style space outfitted with exposed-brick walls, gleaming wood floors, and an abundantly stocked bar. In preparation for the dinner rush, waiters flip crisp white cloths to hide tables’ risqué tattoos while chefs fire up the grill and stir marinades for gourmet steaks, pork loin, and seafood plates. House specialty dishes reflect the chef's meticulous attention to detail; the Cajun rib eye basks in a marinade for 48 hours, and the crab-stuffed tilapia offsets the rich seafood with a white-wine sauce. At lunch, a menu of gourmet sandwiches and burgers fosters casual meals. Fridays see live acoustic entertainment filling the air with quarter notes as bartenders work hard shaking potent cocktails and luring corks out of wine bottles with maraschino cherries. Those craving al fresco eats during warmer months may dine on The Department's tree-lined, second story balcony.
A sizeable beer list keeps the party going at Stone City Saloon, a sports bar and grill with regular karaoke nights and an outdoor patio for bags-tossing. The kitchen cooks up classic pub food, including a signature spinach artichoke dip, wings, burgers, and sandwiches, while bartenders pour tap brews from makers such as Dogfish Head, Bell's, Revolution, and Three Floyds. Eight- and nine-ball pool leagues gather around the felt several times a week.
Kids and adults sound out their musical and rhythmic prowess with individual and group lessons at Allegro Music and Dance Academy. Led by experienced teachers and supplemented with at-home video instruction, music classes encompass an array of styles and techniques to establish a foundation for jazz combos and kitchen utensil bands alike. Group guitar classes teach picking, strumming, and shredding methods to 6–13-year-olds with weekly classes of up to eight students ($240–$299 per 16-week session). Groups form according to age, with older crowds also delving into songwriting and basic rock star moves such as windmilling, power sliding, and trashing an expensive hotel room. Group piano lessons also convene weekly, with up to 10 novices imbuing fingers with basic tickling techniques, as well as theory and repertoire ($240 per 16-week session). Songbirds aged 9 and older stretch their vocal chords with one-on-one voice instruction, while younger warblers learn in the company of a piano’s finely tuned tones. The music class schedule showcases all group meeting times, but private instruction in keys, strings, or vocal chords can also be scheduled Monday–Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The Joliet Park District sprawls across more than 1,000 acres, engaging visitors with everything from sports to nature. Guests can wander through the foliaged paths of the Pilcher Park Nature Center and the organic community garden, or treat their senses to the floral colors and aromas that fill the bird-haven greenhouse. The 10,000-seat Joliet Memorial Stadium hosts high-school and college sporting events, while a dozen athletic fields fill with recreational players hitting baseballs, catching softballs, and spiking soccer balls when the referee isn't looking. During the summer, inner tubes transport patrons down Joliet Splash Station's high-speed water slides and 865-foot lazy river, and the glittery strands of Fourth of July fireworks color the skies above the stadium.