Saturday, October 24, 2009


Several years ago, a group of us lobbied hard to save a historic building on a nearby corner. A bank agreed to take occupancy and the building survived, but the compromise was a bitter pill. Despite a sustained lobby to preserve the pedestrian way, the bank installed a curb cut smack in the middle of the sidewalk to make room for their drive-thru window. Harumph.

It was something of a fool's bargain. The idea was that once the bank moved in, other businesses would follow (this is a sizable building, with several additional storefronts available). That was at least five years ago. And for the duration of those five years, every storefront has sat empty, leaving us pedestrians feeling similarly empty as we imagine the building in its glory days and stop short at the drive-thru so we don't get hit.

This may explain my gratitude for our wonderful neighbor Jill, who saw the potential for a pedestrian-friendly business there and opened her doors earlier this week.

This isn't just any business. It's a language center/community hub, where you can take classes in Spanish or Russian (and other languages to be added over time), come see a movie in Spanish, take a conversation class over wine and cheese, or spend a weekend at bilingual bootcamp.

I know what you're imagining: one of those institutional spaces with a linoleum floor and metal folding chairs. Think again, little chickies. There's an exposed brick wall, paintings by local artists, a cafe, and a full kitchen (which, the day I visited, was generously stocked with cheese, crackers, and sweets).

What I'm imagining is this: Maybe 6 months from now, after some conversation classes or a weekend of bootcamp, it would be amazing -- when my Spanish-speaking coworkers tell hilarious stories over lunch -- if I could not just pretend to laugh, but actually sort of get the joke.


tracy said...

I wish this place was down the street from me--I'd love to take a class there! I wish them many years of success, and you success in your lecciones de espanol. (Note to self: quit it with the Peggy Hill accent.)

Christy said...

For locals who might be interested, the business name is Multilingual Chicago, and you can find out more here:

leslie said...

What a great idea! I wish I could schedule my office's language tables at this place.