On a beautiful spring night, over 150 participants and 18 local restaurants took part in the successful “Bon APpétit” Multicultural Restaurant Crawl in Albany Park on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 co-hosted by the North River Commission (NRC) and the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber). “Crawlers” experienced tasty samplings of food, drinks and entertainment at venues up and down Lawrence, Kedzie, Kimball, Foster, Elston and Francisco Avenues in the downtown Albany Park and Mayfair communities.
Left: guest are welcomed by North River Commission Staff memebers and food provided by Pollo Campero (4830 N. Pulaske Rd.) at check-in. Right: Attendess enjoy dining alfresco at Merle's Coffee Shoppe (4642 N. Francisco Ave.)
Restaurants provided excellent food and hospitality and were well received by participants. One “Crawler” said, “The hospitality at Marie’s Pizza was the best, I felt like I came to a party.” Another noted, “The Ssyal Ginseng House had delicious Korean food; Mrs. Cho, the owner, went above and beyond.” Participants overwhelmingly said they would be back to enjoy Albany Park this summer and would attend the next Crawl NRC and the Chamber hosts.
The diverse spread of venues included award-winning and well-known local favorites like Marie’s Pizza and Liquors, Mayan Sol Latin Grill, Las Cazuelas Mexican Restaurant and Al-Khaymeih Restaurant, in addition to well-loved hidden gems like The Ssyal Ginseng House Korean Restaurant in Mayfair, and Merla’s Kitchen, the Roots Room Social Club and Beijo de Chocolat at Foster and Kimball Avenues.
Among the residents and out-of-towners attending the event on Tuesday night were 12 culinary students from Alabama attending the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Show downtown. They heard about the Crawl from advertising at the Cultural Center and took taxis up to Albany Park to participate in the event. “We really enjoyed seeing and visiting Albany Park,” said a student. “Ay Ay Picante’s owner, Jaime Chamuca, was so gracious he fell over himself providing a great selection of Peruvian dishes.”
Staff, interns, and volunteers from NRC and the Chamber and consultant Big Buzz Idea Group worked tirelessly to organize the event, Albany Park’s first ever Restaurant Crawl. “This event showcased our neighborhood’s diversity and assets,” stated NRC Executive Director Rev. Rodney C. Walker. “We are excited that so many new visitors came out to experience all we have to offer.”
Many local businesses, Chamber members and foundations helped sponsor “Bon APpétit” including: Charter One, LISC/Chicago, Harris Bank, The UPS Store, Jesus House Chicago, Albany Bank & Trust Company, N.A., Baladna Jewelry, Celebrity Properties, Chicago Chocolate Tours, John Tunnell Allstate Agency, Lawrence Kedzie Self-Storage, New Compass Solutions, and Rieck & Crotty, P.C.
“It’s clear that people loved this event,” Walker said. “The demand is out there for the Crawl to become an annual tradition. Mark your calendars for next year!”