Americanos Brings a Fresh Twist to Neighborhood Diners 

By Talie Leeb 

Whether it’s a date for Taco Tuesday or an any-day-of the week craving for empanadas, Beverly/Morgan Park residents can visit Americanos, 11060 S. Western Ave., for the flavors of authentic traditional Mexican American cuisine. 

Americanos offers a delicious connection to a rich history of Mexican American culture and cuisine, using “ingredients and flavors that are very authentic, traditional Mexican American, but with a new, modern twist” said owner, A.J. Castillo 

Castillo, a lifetime South Side resident and St. Rita alum, returned to the neighborhood to open the restaurant last year, bringing what he describes as “a new flair” to the culinary scene.  

When diners come to Americanos they can begin their meal with an order of chips and guacamole  standard Mexican restaurant fare. From there the menu choices expand to include entrées that feature selections such as grilled shrimp served with rice and tequila-guajillo salsa to the popular a la carte taco bar that enables people to selection from tacos filled with steak, chicken and pork as well as fried sweet potato and chorizo, each topped with a unique salsa crafted to celebrate and elevate the tried and true classic dish. 

Americanos also offers a full bar, stocked with over 30 varieties of tequila as well as other spirits, wine and beer. They also serve a variety of margaritas including their signature Jalapeno Strawberry Margarita, and wide selection of other mixed drinks.  

Americanos recently became a BAPA Business Member and is offering a BAPA Card discount to other members.  

In just a year Castillo has worked to create a destination dining experience for the neighborhood and he said he can’t wait to get more involved. 

“It makes it fun when you get people who become regulars, and with joining BAPA we’re looking forward to being a part of the community.”  

The crew at Americanos is looking forward to its first Southside Irish Parade on Mar. 17 and will be open for hungry and thirsty parade goers.  

Head on over to Americanos Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sun., 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.  The full bar features specialty house cocktails and margaritas. For BAPA members, show your BAPA card and get a discount on tacos with purchase of a margarita pitcher (offer not valid on Tuesdays). 773-941-6787, 


Know Your Neighbors: Kevin & Karen O’Malley

By Kristin Boza

Community Involvement with a Splash of Coffee

Kevin and Karen O’Malley made a huge splash on the neighborhood small business scene when they opened B-Sides Coffee + Tea, 9907 S. Walden Pkwy., last summer. The family moved to Beverly/Morgan Park three years ago and are raising their children, Cassidy, 2 and Aiden, 6 weeks, in a neighborhood that they’re committed to contributing to.

“We chose to move to Beverly because it’s close to downtown, it’s a supportive community, and there are many beautiful homes and young families like ours,” Karen said. “The thing we like best about living here is definitely the people. Everyone is so friendly and it is a true sense of community.”

Eager to get out and walk with their stroller, the O’Malleys realized how important amenities are to a neighborhood.

“We want Beverly to be the best neighborhood possible; we thought the shops at 99th and Walden provided the perfect location for a coffee shop. It is convenient for commuters, parents dropping their kids off at school, salon customers, and those wanting to work away from the office,” Karen said.

For the O’Malleys, the location also had some special perks.

“The advantage to working so close to home is being close to the kids, as well as shorter days since there is no commute,” Karen said. “With our daughter at All Day Montessori, across the street from our shop, it is very convenient to drop her off and pick her up before and after work.”

The O’Malleys take pride in showcasing their inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and quality food and drinks at B-Sides. The shop also offers an extensive collection of vinyl records, so customers can enjoy great music while caffeinating. Karen says their customers are eager to enjoy their Instant Karma latte (made of dark chocolate and caramel), pistachio muffins from Iversen’s Bakery in Blue Island and Turmeric Ginger herbal tea. B-Sides Coffee + Tea is a BAPA Business Member.

In addition to contributing to the build-up and buzz around 99th and Walden, B-Sides will be making appearances at the 95th Street Farmers Market this summer, selling coffee and 12 ounce bags of Metropolis beans to brew at home. For and hours, call 773-629-6001.

Business Update – April 2018

Book Discussion and Author Visits in Store at Bookie’s

Start reading! Bookie’s, 10324 S. Western, is hosting several events this month. The Second Sunday Book Club will meet Sun., Apr. 8, 2 p.m. at Open Outcry Brewing Co., 10934 S. Western. The book is “We Care for You” by Paul Kitcatt. Copies are available at the book store, and the author will join the book club discussion via Skype. Participating in the Second Sunday Book Club is open to all.

Independent Bookstore Day is Sat., Apr. 28, and Bookies will host special guests, including R.C. Goodwin, the author of Side Street Press’s new release, “Model Child,” a psychological thriller. During Children’s Book Week, Apr. 30 through May 6, Bookies will host guests almost every day.

Bookie’s is open 7 days a week and offers a wide selection of new and used books. Looking for a particular title? Call 773-239-1110, or, better yet, stop by the store and enjoy browsing through the books. More info


Biros Real Estate Welcomes 3 New Brokers

Erin Cotter, Susan Stevens and Mary Therese Quiter recently joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Biros Real Estate. “Mary Therese, Erin and Susan will assist buyers and sellers in their purchase and sale of residential or commercial real estate,” said said Bill Biros, Broker/Owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Biros Real Estate. “All three live in the neighborhoods we serve and they are the type of sales professionals we are seeking, as we continue to grow the company, and increase our presence in the local community. Our focus is on the customer and our goal is to provide the best products and services. The knowledge, professionalism and dedication of our sales agents has made working with BHHS Biros Real Estate the right choice for thousands of satisfied buyers and sellers over the last 35 years.”


Spring Tree Care Leaves Your Summer Made in the Shade

Even though spring is a busy time of year for neighborhood families, the certified arborists at Smitty’s Tree Service recommend making time to ensure that one of our community’s finest assets – the trees – are strong and healthy.

According to Smitty’s specialists, homeowners should clear away winter debris from tree root areas, spread a light layer of mulch, and, once the ground is thawed, give each tree a good watering. These activities will assist in root health as the cool spring transitions into the hot summer.

Spring is also a good time to apply fertilizer. Well-fertilized trees are healthier and can fight off pests and disease more easily. Trees should also be inspected for damage, disease and pests in spring. These jobs may require the help of a certified arborist.

Certified arborists have the skills and knowledge needed to detect damage, diagnose diseases in trees and shrubs, and identify pests that can cause extensive damage or even kill trees. Chicago winters can be hard on trees. Broken and dead branches should be removed, and trees should be inspected for damage from salt and hard freezes. Certified arborists can care for damaged or sick trees and nurse them back to health. Diseases that kill trees and can spread to other trees if not treated. Insect infestations can also be deadly. Local trees are vulnerable to Japanese beetles, leaf miners, aphids, bagworms and other pests.

Smitty’s Tree Service is a BAPA Business Member; see their business directory listing at under resources. They have been serving residential and commercial customers for more than 60 years, and are fully insured and licensed. For a free estimate, contact Smitty’s at 708-385-2814 or


Get the Help You Need to Make Your Business Successful

Local business owners are encouraged to take advantage of expert advice from counselors from SCORE and the Far South Community Development Corporation. Mentors from these organizations meet with clients at the BAPA office, 1987 W. 111th St.  SCORE business mentor Kevin Scanlan is available by appointment to help entrepreneurs learn more about business start-up, finding funding, expanding their current businesses, managing cash flow and marketing. Mentoring is free and offered by appointment only. Make appointments at

Florence Hardy and Kathryn Jackson of the Far South Community Development Corporation (FSCDC) make appointments to help small businesses with business accounting and business plans on the second Wednesday of each month between 10 a.m. and noon. Far South counselors are experts at connecting businesses with resources and services for current and prospective business owners. To schedule an appointment, call BAPA, 773-233-3100.


Home Cooking: Swanson’s Deli

By Kristin Boza

Swanson’s Deli and Catering, 2414 W. 103rd St., has been a neighborhood staple for over 50 years. Under new ownership since December, Swanson’s continues to offer Swedish specialties and American fare, and it is important for new owners Todd Thielmann and Greg Dix to continue the neighborhood tradition.

“Swanson’s was historically a Swedish deli, and we continue to offer Swedish items like Limpa bread, Gottenburg sausage, Bondost cheese and potato sausage,” said Thielmann. “The Swedish offerings are expanded during Christmas.”

Thielmann said that customers expect their delectable best sellers, including potato salad, chicken salad and the ever-popular cheeseballs. “My idea of a perfect sandwich is chicken salad on a buttercrust roll with lettuce, tomato and red onion,” Thielmann said. “Throw in a side of potato salad and it’s heaven.”

Dix and Thielmann grew up in Beverly/Morgan Park and felt it was essential to continue the Swanson’s role within the community.

“Whether it’s news at the different parishes, talk about local sports teams or the goings-on around town, it feels like Swanson’s is in the middle of it all,” Thielmann said. “Customers always thank us for taking over and continuing the legacy. It’s sad when a long-time business closes their doors, and we are excited about breathing new life into a community cornerstone.”

Fresh, high-quality food is essential to the pair as they retain the community favorites and enhance their menu.

“Greg and I look at it like we are now the caretakers of a loved and established deli. Customers have high expectations of the quality and consistency of the food we offer,” Thielmann said. For example, the chicken used in the chicken salad is cooked in-house and cut by hand, and the potatoes are peeled and diced by Dix and Thielmann.

“Our customers are very loyal because they know that we work very hard to present the best product,” Thielmann said.

Try to capture the best of Swanson’s flavors at home by making your own version of their chicken noodle soup. Or if all else fails, stop in for a cup to enjoy at home.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes approximately 3 quarts


2 quarts chicken stock

1 1/2 cups carrots, diced

1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

2 cups egg noodles

1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup water or chicken stock, cold

Bring chicken stock to a boil and immediately turn down heat to a simmer. Add vegetables and garlic. Simmer until vegetables are soft (about 7 to 10 minutes) add noodles and simmer another 5 to 7 minutes. When noodles are cooked, add chicken, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Remember to never let soup reach a boil. Adjust seasoning, if needed, and serve hot with crackers or crusty bread.

Shop at Swanson’s Mon. through Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. Order ahead by calling 773-239-1197. More info:

BAPA MemberProfile: Bev Lynch, Running Excels

Bev Lynch, owner of Running Excels, 10328 S. Western, is an avid BAPA supporter. The store sells running shoes, clothing and accessories for runners at every stage — from casual runners to those training for a marathon.

“BAPA does a great job of supporting me and all businesses in the neighborhood,” Lynch said.  “They’ve written articles about the store and my presence in the neighborhood, and they advertise our races and events.” Lynch was also happy to have Running Excels as the designated packet pick-up spot for the Ridge Run. “They set up the packets here, which gives my store great exposure and adds a little excitement to the racers picking up their packet in a running store,” she said.

Running Excels is dedicated to helping runners and walkers throughout the neighborhood reach their goals with the proper equipment and coaching. The store has a competition for anyone in the neighborhood to run the “Eagle” as a part of their “Run Beverly” program. The Eagle is a 6-mile route mapped out in the shape of an eagle; if a runner completes it 25 times they earn a t-shirt; 50 times for a $50 Running Excels gift card; 75 times for a Running Excels gift bag; and 100 times the runner earns a party and raffle entry for shoes. A weekly running group meets on Tues. and Thurs. at 6 p.m., and Sat. at 7 a.m. However, runners don’t have to run with the club to complete the Eagle.

Through the running app Strava, runners track their runs of the Eagle, which Lynch can access to keep track of the number of times an individual runs it. “The challenge runs through the end of the year, and you can run as often as you want and whenever it’s convenient for you,” Lynch said.

Brach’s Auto Center Offers Digital Vehicle Inspection

By Kristin Boza

The only thing scarier than your car’s “check engine” light is not knowing you have a problem with your vehicle. That’s why Brach’s Auto Center, 10333 S. Western Ave., performs a digital vehicle inspection on every car that comes into the shop. This technology is not readily at other shops.

“Every car that comes in gets a complete inspection, and this begins with one of our techs and a tablet,” said Gary Brach, owner of Brach’s Auto Center. “The tech will take pictures of your car, test drive it and evaluate your car against a checklist of 52 items including belts, hoses, filters and the battery.”

Once the evaluation is complete, the technician downloads the information from the tablet to Brach’s main computer. Then, they contact the customer and provide an email with all of the photos and issues found with the vehicle. “We show all of the items that are good, those that need immediate attention, and those that will need attention in the future,” Brach said. “We automatically do this for every car, and the evaluation is free of charge.”

Since the shop started using the technology, Brach found that customers are very happy — particularly because they have the opportunity to actually see what needs to be fixed before they make a decision about it. “A picture says a thousand words!” Brach said.

The photos are especially valuable when looking at the level of cleanliness of air filters and transmission fluid. “The air filter filters the air that goes into the car that you are breathing in. We will often see leaves and debris on the filter, and usually our customers will agree that it needs to be replaced.” Transmission fluid should be pink or red; when it gets old, it becomes brown or black when it’s really overdue for a change. “We take a sample of the oil and place it on a blotter. The blotter gives comparisons to how the fluid should look, so our customers can see how old or dirty the fluid is and make an informed decision about replacing the fluid,” Brach said.

Additionally, the inspection includes determining why a “check engine” light is on, and whether the car is due for an oil change, and an inspection of the battery and tires.

Since implementing the state-of-the-art inspection, Brach said his customers are really excited about the technology. “The cool part is that you can keep all of the pictures — and we do too — to keep an eye on things. So if you have a minor oil leak this time, we will be sure to check it again to see if it’s getting worse or not,” he said.

Brach also noticed an uptick in sales due to the inspections. Most people will go for the needed repairs in order to keep their car running smoothly. It’s due to those sales that enables Brach to offer the inspection for free. The shop even offers 6-month same-as-cash financing for people who qualify if they do find numerous repairs.

Brach believes the inspection offers peace of mind to his customers, as they know that even if they go in for an oil change, their car will be thoroughly inspected and issues can be taken care of before they happen on the road.

By Mary Jo Viero

January 15 marked my one year anniversary as a staff member at BAPA. When I think about what happened over the last year, I am overwhelmed. I have met so many nice people, worked with business owners that I now know by name, experienced all of the events that BAPA hosted and witnessed the incredible community spirit of Beverly/Morgan Park.

One of the best aspects of being BAPA’s community organizer is that I am constantly meeting new people. It’s exciting, fun and interesting. One of my tasks is to revitalize our civic and homeowner associations. These are the smaller groups within the larger BAPA service area. They organize and work within their boundaries to formally or informally try to improve the quality of life in their area. They build relationships with their neighbors, create a unified voice, work together on projects and problem-solve. Over the course of the year I realized how important these groups are to our larger community. Each area has its own unique personality and a unique set of priorities and concerns. I met with the amazing and dedicated people who work with the BIA (Beverly Improvement Association), SWMPCA (Southwest Morgan Park Civic Association), WBCA (West Beverly Civic Association), BRHA (Beverly Ridge Homeowners Association), VIA (Vanderpoel Improvement Association), EBA (East Beverly Association) and CPCA (Crescent Park Civic Association). These are vibrant community organizations that host regular meetings and events, and work hard to improve their neighborhood.

I tried but had a hard time getting neighbors involved from SWBIA (Southwest Beverly Improvement Association), CAMP (Civic Association for Morgan Park), KPHA (Kennedy Park Homeowners Association), and the OMPCA (Old Morgan Park Civic Association) areas. I hope if you live in one of these areas, you will call me to ask how to get involved.

The more vibrant and effective our associations are, the more vibrant and effective our entire community will be. BAPA serves as the umbrella to all of these organizations. I want to try to get them talking, and sharing ideas, discussing their challenges and their successes. Most of all, I want these groups to empower themselves and each other.

Our first meeting for 2017 for all of the civic associations was in January. Even though it was pouring rain, amazing people from all corners of our community showed up. One of our main topics of discussion was how we can bring more of our neighbors to the table. My feeling is that we all have something that we are passionate about. If we can engage people by offering ways to tap into those passions, we will all be better. If someone loves to garden or loves trees, they can get involved with tree grants or weeding Wednesdays. If someone is concerned about safety, they can attend their CAPS meetings and reach out to BAPA to help find solutions. For some, being social and planning activities makes them happy. There are endless opportunities to be involved with community events.

The point is, we need you. We need all of you.

You don’t have to come to every meeting, but if you can give a few hours of your time and exercise your passion, it will benefit you and the entire community.

I know that for me, the more I get involved the more I love where I live.

For more information, contact me at 773-233-3100,

Take Care of Your Car This Winter

By Kristin Boza

It’s safe to say that we all have a basic understanding of how we should maintain our cars, especially in a rough winter. But how often do we actually follow through? Take it from the pros: car care is nothing to put off. The following tips are from local car care experts, who are all on the BAPA card, a card with exclusive deals just for BAPA members. Support our local shops and ensure a safe driving experience all winter long.


Check Your Tires

Your tires are responsible for ensuring proper traction on icy and snowy roads, so make sure they are safe before severe winter weather hits. Pat Patton, owner of Patton Motor Service (10209 S. Western, 773-233-0660), suggests checking the grooves in the tire to see if you need new ones or not. “We can check your tires using a tire tread depth gauge, which will tell you how much life is actually left in the tire,” he said.

Also, check your tire pressure at least once a month, suggests Pete Cocarro, owner of Beverly Hills Garage (2043 95th St., 773-238-0540). “With winter upon us and the colder temperatures, tires will lose air pressure faster,” he said.

Check Your Wiper Blades

Chicago weather conditions are brutal, so be sure to replace old wiper blades, said Al Gonzalez, district manager of the Chicagoland area at Advance Auto Parts (1808 95th St., 773-672-4748). “At Advance, we offer free wiper blade installation on every set purchased. Also be sure to stock up on windshield washer solvent/de-icer. You’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months, so be sure to not run out.”

“Washer fluid is really critical,” said Cocarro. “Some of the quick oil change facilities and some gas stations sell an inferior quality of washer fluid. The cheaper fluid will freeze when the temp gets below 20 degrees. This will result in not being able to clean the windshield and/or the windshield washer reservoir could possibly crack and become damaged due to the fluid freezing.”

Patton recommends changing your wiper blades two to three times a year. “It really depends on the weather and how often you use them,” he said. “But they can get dry-rotted from the sun and then won’t work well when you do need them.”

Perform a Battery Check

Be sure to check your battery to make sure it has enough power before it dies, leaving you stranded on a cold roadway. “At Advance Auto Parts, we offer free battery testing,” said Gonzalez. “Also, some vehicles require professional mechanic expertise, and we always refer our customers to the local repair shops that we are partners with.”

“I find most batteries can last three to four years,” said Patton. “If it’s three years old, you should probably change it.”



BAPA Card Fall Deals