d’aprile locales – Pennyville Station

Welcome to ‘Locales’, a series that highlights vendors, businesses, and organizations who stand out in their respective communities through their passion and purpose.

May we introduce you to: Pennyville Station

When you first sit down with Tony and Samantha Antonacci, you immediately recognize two people who have spent a lifetime supporting each other. Their playful, natural rapport as a couple is evident, and the pride they take in raising their family together can be seen from miles away.

But the carefree and considerate bond they share also reflects two individuals who have been through all of the weight, pressure, and stress that come with committing fully to your dreams. Luckily, they have come out clean on the other side, together.

“It was a hefty mix of pride and panic,” Sam laughs, when asked about her immediate reaction to the news that her husband had finally decided to open his own restaurant. “But I believed in him, so I was supportive of his dream from day one.”

Tony Antonacci grew up in the restaurant industry. His family owned the beloved Edison Park bistro Basta Pasta, which he would manage for years alongside his father, Tino. He would also go on to spend nearly a decade at the popular American steakhouse Tavern on Rush in downtown Chicago.

But despite all of his success, there was always one glaring problem — he wasn’t satisfied cooking someone else’s menu.

“I’ve always loved food, always loved going out to eat. But I’ve continually had this dream in my head of the restaurant I wanted to create, where everything on the menu is some representation of one of my favorite dishes. If I was going to open my own place, I wanted to cook the kind of food and serve the kind of drink that made me happy.”

And that is how Pennyville Station came to be, first opening its doors to the public in downtown Park Ridge on May 31. So far, it has been an undeniable success; the food and drink menus have been widely praised, and they’ve recently expanded their hours to include brunch. The location’s decor has also been applauded — it is the work of local Park Ridge mom and designer Kristen Massucci. “That’s how I knew we were on to something” Tony states confidently. “Sam and I actually met Kristen for the first time at Lollapalooza! Here I am in the middle of one of the biggest concert events in the world, and I meet a Park Ridge designer who immediately understood what I was going for, aesthetically. It was like it was meant to be.”

The unique and eclectic menus were created by Tony himself, featuring nothing but “clean” food — sustainable farm ingredients, all antibiotic and hormone-free. He then challenged his head chef, Jose ‘Mosquito’ Alvarez (who he brought over from Tavern on Rush) to help make it happen.

The food is farm-to-table (items on the menu that are tagged come from locations within 100 miles), and the menu itself has been described as “New American”. But with only 18 items that are constantly evolving and changing, Tony uses his own simple phrase to capture it. “It’s…a little different. There’s a lot of meat. I’m always experimenting and trying new things.”

With that statement, Sam jumps in with a behind-the-scenes story. “We kept getting food delivered to the house, and I’d be so excited to get a package! Then I’d open the door, and it turns out, it was…meat. Again.”

Sam Antonacci is one of d’aprile properties own, a successful real estate agent serving Park Ridge and the surrounding communities. With three girls ages 13, 10, and 7 at home, she and her husband team up to ensure both get the time they need to succeed in their individual careers. “Opening Pennyville was a lot of hard work, but it has also provided so many advantages. He takes the girls to the restaurant during the day during prep, and they cook breakfast together. That gives Mom the quiet time she needs to work on her real estate business.”

Owning a popular local restaurant, which only helps ingrain you within a tight-knit community like Park Ridge, doesn’t hurt either. “They say it takes a village, and I have a fantastic support system around me. If I need to show a home or attend an inspection on short notice, I have my family, and other moms in the area, who support me. Plus, I have access to a lot of coffee. And maybe just a little wine.”

In the end, while Tony and Samantha have succeeded by doing things their own way, they know they have the people of Park Ridge to thank for their success. “This is the community we live in, that we’re proud to be a part of. The feedback has been great, and more and more people stop by everyday to talk about what a great thing we’re doing here. I made this place what I wanted it to be. But if my vision doesn’t consistently satisfy my patrons, then I’m not doing it right.”

If there is any doubt about Tony’s commitment to customer service, just ask him about his service model. “It’s simple. The answer is yes. Now what is the question?”


Carving Out Some Fun

Can you believe it? Fall is almost here, and Halloween looms on the horizon. It’s time to start thinking about costumes and decorations. And no fall season would be complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch.

Keep the following in mind when searching for the perfect pumpkin or the most gorgeous gourd:

CHECK THE STEM: The texture and color of your pumpkin’s stem will tell its story. A soft or loose stem is a clue that the pumpkin could be prone to rotting. A green stem means the pumpkin has been freshly picked, but a tan or brown stems mean the pumpkin was harvested at least a few days ago.

SPOTS ARE BAD, M’KAY?: Soft spots on your pumpkin? Not good news. This may be a result of excess moisture or insects getting into the pumpkin, causing rot or mold. The more moisture and rot, the less time that pumpkin will look fresh on your front stoop.

ROLL WITH IT: We all know that pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. So how do you check to see if yours will stand up throughout the season? Lay it gently on a flat surface, and check for the roll. A good, flat-bottomed pumpkin will stay in place, both in the patch and on your porch.

Happy Hunting! Check the list below for some of the best public pumpkin patches in the area!

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm & Apple Orchard —  Pingree Grove

Sonny Acres Farm — West Chicago

Didier Farms — Lincolnshire

Konow’s Corn Maze — Homer Glen

Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm — Lockport



Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?

Welcome to our Mortgage Minute series, where our partners over at Midwest Lending break down the particulars of home financing, and bring a personal touch to the lending industry, as only they can.

You’ve found the perfect home, and are looking to settle in what looks like the quaintest community this side of Mayberry. Your future neighbors wave as you pull in the driveway. The house is mere blocks from a great school that the kids can walk to. And the property taxes! So low you can afford to take an extra weekend vacation this year!

Thus represents the average amount of research that most new homeowners put into their potential new ‘hood. You think about the kids, you think about your wallet. But there is so much more to your community than good schools and friendly neighbors. The area you live in needs to be as perfect a fit for your family as the four walls that surround them while they sleep at night. After all, your home more than just the property you live in; it’s a collection of the people and the personalities that make up your entire neck of the woods.

So what else should you be looking at? How do you find the facts you need to settle on the right area for you and your family? Think of it like playing a game of Monopoly: you’ve chosen the Thimble piece, got your cash in order, and picked up the dice. It’s time to take a look at the rest of the board. And you can do it without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go: No matter how nice a given area looks, crime can be lurking just around the corner. A fairly quick search on sites like crimereports.com or spotcrime.com can give you all you need to know about violent crime statistics in the area, and offer access to police blotter aggregators. Heck, a “Google Street View” sneak peek can give you a quick glance at the feel of the block. But if you really want to feel safe about your future neighborhood, reach out to the local police department and ask them for a crime report — they’ll be happy to oblige.

Pennsylvania Railroad: The kids might have a short walk to school, but did you think about your work commute? What about your proximity to the freeway, or your nearest hospital? Quiet, peaceful neighborhoods tend to be located in slightly more isolated areas, which often reduces the amount of public transportation options. Make sure that you have ease of access to all of the activities that make up your life, from your office to Home Depot. A little time spent on sites like walkscore.com could go a long way towards making every day life accessible to you and your family.

Community Chest: Last but not least, what about the culture that makes up your new ‘burb? Does the neighborhood value diversity and take pride in its local businesses? Are you going to be overrun by baby strollers, or kept up at night by singles looking to party till dawn? Research income, racial diversity, age, and relationship status stats on sites like city-data.com. Your lifestyle is an important part of the place you call home; make sure that you and your family FEEL like a part of the community.

Of course, your d’aprile properties local area expert can help you find the perfect place to settle. But by taking the time to do a little homework upfront, you’ll know ahead of time exactly what you’re looking for in a community.  

It’ll be better than winning 2nd Prize in a Beauty Contest…



Dancing in the Streets!

All photos courtesy of Alex Santos

The corporate headquarters of d’aprile properties sits at 1732 W. Hubbard St., on the west side of Chicago. Two years ago, it might have seemed like a seemingly inauspicious central location from which to operate a thriving full-service real estate firm.

Nestled among faceless factories and towering industrial edifices, it may seem like the most unlikely place to drive foot traffic toward your business. So what do you call it when that West Town manufacturing neighborhood that you call home suddenly morphs into the jewel of the Chicago beer-brewing industry?

Lucky?

Our signature location now rests comfortably amid what is now unofficially dubbed as the Chicago Brewing District, comprised of Goose Island, Great Central Brewing Company, All Rise Brewing, Finch Beer, and of course, our next-door neighbor and GABF-winner, On Tour Brewing Co.

How times have changed! On August 3rd and 4th, d’aprile properties happily took part in the 2nd annual Dancing in the Streets Festival. The brainchild of our good friend and On Tour Brewing Company founder Mark Legenza, this one-of-a-kind craft beer and live music family event is co-sponsored by the West Town Chamber of Commerce and Chicago’s Brewing District.

The d’aprile properties booth was run by agents and staff alike, and featured a t-shirt tie-dying station. All proceeds benefited our 2019 signature charity, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

The streets were packed with Chicago craft beer enthusiasts and jam-band fanatics alike. Festival attendees were treated to a surplus of savory taco trucks, local artwork, crafts, and games for all ages. Those who came for live music were treated to 10 eclectic Chicago bands over two days, including Terrapin Mountain, Paradise Waits, and Mr. Blotto.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all! We are already looking forward to next year’s event, as we continue living and loving our amazingly vibrant neighborhood home.


The Freedom of Home Ownership

 

When was the last time you gave thought to the concept of the American Dream?

For generations, the idea was built around one simple concept: opportunity. Every man and woman born in this country — or who managed to find their way to it — was given a promise. Work hard, never quit, and you can secure wealth and build a life of your own, regardless of your station. Owning land and/or property represented freedom at its most pure, and the pursuit of happiness would often end at a white picket fence, surrounding the perfect home in the middle of a quaint, suburban paradise.

We all hoped, with absolute sincerity, to someday be kings and queens of our own little castle. 

But times, inevitably, have changed. Today, a quick online search of the term “American Dream” brings up headlines filled with sarcasm, pessimism, and outright negativity.

“Fool’s Dream.”

“Outdated Concept.”

“Dead and Gone.”

At some point along the way, the bright-eyed optimism behind our collective drive to succeed, and to create quality and comfort for those we love, has become a concept often frowned upon. Many now see the American Dream as a pursuit of the material, a selfish and outdated attempt at social mobility.

We at d’aprile properties must — respectfully — disagree. We believe that the American Dream is alive and well. As a society we have seen our motivations change and adapt over time, but as individuals we all still want the same thing: the freedom to choose how we live. We strive not only to improve our own lot in life, but to make sure that those that follow us can begin their own journey, with hope and optimism for the future.

 

As a real estate company, we will never apologize for promoting the benefits of home ownership, and the many freedoms that come with it. Be it an apartment in the city, a two-story Cape Cod in the suburbs, or a vacation getaway along the coast — coming home means safety and security. It offers peace of mind in a place that you humbly call your own, but proudly welcome others into. It means being wealthy in spirit. It’s about being part of a community. 

We wish you a safe, and spectacular Fourth of July holiday. Celebrate your independence, in whatever form it may take.