Tim and Bobbi Paul deploy decades of tune savvy to helm Piano Trends, which was voted best music store and instruction studio in the Northwest Herald's Best of the Fox in 2011. The family team wrangles more than 20 voice and music instructors to bolster musicality in local schools, with established performance groups and one former American Idol finalist. In classes for every skill level from novice to megawizard, instructors teach piano, guitar, violin, and a variety of brass and woodwind instruments, and voice lessons range from Broadway training to avant-garde birdcalls. Lessons for children under the age of 6 are available, based on the child's attention span, maturity level, and desired instrument; interested customers should call ahead for more information. Piano Trends can also cater to musical needs with instrument rentals and repairs.
Play It Again Sports bedecks kids and adults alike with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so that they can kick, swing, and punt with gusto. Scores of gently used merchandise, perfect for replacing equipment that children have grown out of because of rampant milk abuse, arrive daily and boast brand names such as Adidas, Taylor Made, and Easton. At the Frankfort location, pint-size puck handlers can improve their speed and whittle their hockey sticks with Bauer Supreme One 20 youth skates ($49.99). Crystal Lake's elliptical trainers and exercise bikes sculpt calves into steel, and Downers Grove's Wilson Evolution basketballs ($49.99) keep droves of neighborhood kids active. Each Play It Again Sports store encourages customers to bring in their own old or outgrown equipment to sell or trade for referee signal-decoder rings.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in the end of October, the hop gurus at Brew and Grow educate burgeoning beer makers on the art of crafting cold ones via hands-on introductory courses. During 2.5-hour classes, duos learn the ins and outs of the brewing process, including basic terminology, equipment, and the differences between ales, lagers, and root beer. Pupils will sip various suds while learning about ideal ingredient combinations, then concoct customized barley pops. Though they can't immediately take class creations home, participants will be able to return to the brewery in approximately one month or after malted barley has passed its fermentation exam to tap and taste their personalized potables. At the end of the session, students will be able take home a choice of two comprehensive home brewing guides, either How To Brew by John Palmer or Radical Brewing by Chicago author Randy Mosher.
Sleepy's is the American dream. It all started when Louis Acker landed on Ellis Island in the late 1920s. In 1931, he opened a mattress store in Brooklyn, where he and his son, Harry, tied knots and stitched mattresses by hand. After Louis passed away, Harry carried on the family business, eventually transforming it into Sleepy's, whose first store opened in 1957. There, he built the company's foundation upon quality products and an expert staff of Mattress Professionals.
Today, those Mattress Professionals share their wisdom at more than 1,000 showrooms across the United States, helping people figure out which sleep system is best for their body and wallet and for discouraging squatting by assorted boogeymen. The modern-day version of Sleepy's has grown into customers' source for the industry's top brands, including Simmons, Serta, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic. Sleepy's also carries a wide range of other specialty sleep products, from pillows and mattress pads to sheets, blankets, and headboards.
Inside the kitchens of Crystal Lake Rib House, chef David Faccone takes a methodical, multistep approach to making his baby back ribs: he covers them with dry rub, smokes them, and finally chargrills them before brushing over the final product with housemade barbecue sauce. His work has paid off?his tender baby back slabs earned the restaurant a 2012 Best of the Fox Award for Barbecue from Planit Northwest, as well as praise from Pat Bruno of the Chicago Sun-Times, who called them "a gift from the Gods of barbecue." In addition to ribs, the cooks also chargrill half-pound burgers, topping them with lettuce and tomato or a meaty pile of pulled pork and melted cheddar. The kitchen?s old-fashioned attention to smoked flavor is reflected in the building itself, an old house whose wooden front porch is adorned with wagon wheels. Inside, rustic hardwood floors support tables topped with white-and-red-checkered cloths, where patrons dip their spoons into hearty chili and sip domestic and imported brews.
Crystal Lake Rib House also arranges catering services for office gatherings, family reunions, and pool parties near bubbling barbecue-sauce springs. They have even catered for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Randy Travis, and Illinois governors, according to staff.
Dolphin Swim Club’s faculty of professional First Aid– and CPR-certified lifeguards help children aged 2 and older learn how to swim in a safe and encouraging environment. They lead lessons within a pool comfortably heated to 89 degrees, keeping class sizes small to ensure individual attention. After trainers assess each child’s ability, they’ll place them in one of nine levels, which they can progress through in accordance with their budding skills. Very young splashers might learn bubble blowing and breath control in Level A, while older and more experienced children in Level 7 might refine stroke mechanics, build up endurance, or learn how to properly evade pool-dwelling Venetian merchants.
Dolphin Swim Club stresses child safety above all other concerns. Its founder, Tyler Brewer, was a founding board member of the Swim For Life Foundation, which stresses the Safer 3—Safer Kids, Safer Water, and Safer Response—to prevent children from drowning.