A stay-at-home mom founded Chelsea TreeHouse, a 9,000-square-foot indoor “unplugged” play space free of any distracting video games or other electronics. The play area is outfitted with slides, swings, bridges, and a multilevel climbing structure, and basketball hoops allows aspiring players to practice slam dunks within eyesight of parents or guardians lounging in leather seating. During birthday parties, groups of kids can take advantage of amenities such as pizza, balloons, and lemonade. For everyday nourishment, TreeHouse’s snack bar replenishes energy with healthy bites such as veggies, yogurt, cheese, and grass-fed animal crackers while parents enjoy more adult fare, such as sandwiches and Zingerman’s Coffee.
From behind the salon chair at Hair by Justyna Salon, Justyna removes unwanted length with a pair of gleaming scissors and bestows strands with new color using bowls of freshly mixed hair dye. Her fleet of trusty products, such as Moroccan Oil and Wella, aid her in the pursuit of revamping manes, and her fingers twist hair into chic updos and Windsor knots for special events.
Checkered tablecloths and vintage black-and-white photos from the 1940s evoke small-town Tuscany at Lauretta's Italian Bake Shop & Cafe, whose chefs have assembled authentic Sicilian-style cuisine for more than 30 years. Homemade pomodoro sauce mingles with the porcini mushrooms and caramelized onions that fleck risotto, and fresh baby clams or mussels frolic through linguine entrees. To create paninis, chefs crown toasted ciabatta bread with such accoutrement as jarlsberg swiss cheese, yellowfin tuna imported from Italy, and childhood memories of revered measuring cups. Diners complement bites with Italian beers and wines, including a crisp, fruity prosecco and a medium-bodied chianti, whose tart red-fruit and chocolate flavors pair well with spinach ravioli and still-life paintings of Hershey's bars.A family-owned Chicago bakery furnishes the eatery's fleet of traditional italian pastries, such as cannoli and more than 30 kinds of italian cookies. Lauretta's Italian Bake Shop & Cafe also proffers comprehensive catering spreads, dishing up pans of lasagna, ravioli, and chicken marsala that can feed 15 partygoers or more, or custom orders that can sate finicky flatware.
Before establishing Couture Cupcake Cafe, owner Cathi Volante was submerged in the world of public relations and marketing. But a desire to do something sweeter in life drew her to the world of desserts, where she now churns out handcrafted cakes, cupcakes, and savory pastries from the kitchen of her gourmet shop. Cathi’s lengthy menu of collections packs in more than 60 cheekily named cake flavors—the Jimmy Choo honors the designer’s decadent styles with rich layers of Belgian chocolate, and the 24 Carrot Cake’s orange cream-cheese icing pops like its golden namesake. Cathi also whips up such delicacies as savory cakes made from lobster and caviar, entices kids with s’more and donut flavors, and crafts men-centric treats including a BLT cake filled with bacon and flannel shirts. Dedicated to her customers, Cathi will even whip up gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, organic, or 100-calorie versions of her cupcakes or crown regular treats with whipped-cream icing.
The boutique shop also pleases sweet teeth with more than 600 Italian-gelato flavors at the adjoining Ciao! gelato bar and pours out glasses of Arabica gourmet organic coffee and custom-blended iced teas. To keep the good karma coming in, Couture Cupcake Cafe also donates 10% of its proceeds to local churches, charities, and organizations.