Whaddya Got to Do to Get a Drink Around Here?

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Ok, we’re gonna be honest with you right off the bat. Compiling a list of ‘Chicago’s Best Bar Patios’ for the upcoming sunny season isn’t exactly an original concept. In fact, if you open up the Google and type those four little words in, you will be treated to no less than, oh, 67,100,000 results. In 0.82 seconds. Hey, Chicago residents are thirsty folk in warm weather.

Of course, you’d be parched too if you spent your entire winter watching Bears and Bulls games. There’s screaming involved. And lately, a rather copious amount of tears. Which really only makes the dehydration worse, when you think about it.

But Chicago in the spring time is also bursting with color, character, and a sense of community. Pride in their city is not something the residents wear – it’s in their marrow. You can hear it in their tone of voice, and feel it in their actions. City of Broad Shoulders, indeed.  

We figured, what better place to find an wide variety of viewpoints and opinions than at a real estate company? So we conducted a quick poll of d’aprile properties agents (they are your Chicagoland local area experts, after all) and asked them their favorite city venue to kick back on the patio and enjoy a cocktail.

There was one glaring result: there is no such thing as a majority opinion when it comes to the city’s best locale for enjoying a little liquid lubrication, al fresco.  

So here is a random sampling of some of our favorites, based on intense (hic) field research…

Where You Can Feel Fancy Shmancy

We start with the high end. Twenty-seven stories above the city’s streets, Roof lounge at theWit was voted one of the top three rooftop bars in the world by Travel + Leisure. While this one is all about the view, the signature cocktails, award-winning food, and world-renowned DJ’s don’t exactly hinder the experience.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name: 

Then again, some of us like our bars a little more subdued. The Garage in Norwood Park is just the place – a true ‘neighborhood bar’, where people come to watch games (70” flat screen on rooftop bar), play games (darts, shuffleboard, bags), or just…hang out.  With a great beer list and a high quality (yet uncomplicated) menu, their tagline says it all: “Where Neighbors Become Friends.”

When You Want to Make Ill-Advised Decisions

We give you Fountainhead, one of the most popular brewhouses in the city.  They have beer.  Like, a LOT of beer.  And whiskey.  Like a LOT of whiskey.  And an amazing rooftop garden to drink it on. And…

…wait, what were we saying?

When You Want to Say “Forget It” to Swimsuit Season: 

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the doomed Roman general states his mistrust of skinny people. He’d fit right in at Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Maybe the best fried chicken in town (dipped in honey butter for cripe’s sake) is served by a casual yet incredibly friendly waitstaff. All of which is best enjoyed in the soft night lighting of the outdoor patio, which gets even sparklier after a couple of Hill Pops. Which are bourbon lemonades. Served by the pitcher. You’re welcome.

Let Spring Into Your Home!

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Is winter over yet? Officially, spring began on March 20th. While the weather is a little slow to catch up, it’s the perfect time to embrace the season and give our living spaces a little refresh.

Here are some things to consider when getting your home ready for spring:

Clean Things Up

You either love spring cleaning, or you dread it. Either way, it’s a great time of year to refresh your space by washing away the signs of winter hibernation. It doesn’t have to be all ammonia and baseboard-scrubbing; start with small projects like cleaning out the fridge or freezer, then move up to larger tasks like floors and windows. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces can help avoid feeling overwhelmed. Open a window for some fresh air and to vent out the smell of cleaning chemicals while you’re hard at work.

Decluttering is just as important as cleaning, and you’ll be amazed at how different a room can feel after getting rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. Similar to cleaning, break organizing down into smaller bits at a time. You don’t want to be done for the day, only to realize your bed is still covered with all the boxes of clothes you’re going to donate.


Long Days, Warm Nights

You’ve made it past daylight saving time – are you prepared for all the extra daylight that spring brings with it? Sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and is a factor that tells us when it’s time for bed. Darker mornings make it easier to stay in bed in the morning, and a little bit harder to fall asleep at night. Winter’s darkness gave us time inside to relax and decompress before bed, but the late sunset of spring can make it difficult to feel tired on time. If you find yourself staying up later with the extra sunlight, make sure you are still taking the time to unwind after a long day. A nighttime routine centered on relaxation can help give structure to the end of your day so you don’t find yourself lying awake at night.

With the temperatures beginning to rise, turning the thermostat down a few degrees before bed can actually help prepare you for a deeper sleep. If you are a hot sleeper, don’t forget to change out warmer sheets for a set that breathe well and keep you comfortable. If you still find yourself warm, a mattress that sleeps cool is worth the investment and will keep you enjoying sleep for seasons to come.


Bring the Outside In

Outside your home, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. But how do you bring the feeling of spring into your home? The simplest way to bring the outdoors in is to include some plants in your home decor. Easy-to-maintain options that will bloom this spring include violets, lilies, and hard-to-kill succulents. Plants are a great way to embrace the season and let some refreshing color into the home while on a budget. You can also use spring colors, such as pastel greens, sky blues, or sunshine yellows in your decor to really brighten up a room and give it a spring feel. The ultimate way to refresh your space and bring some color in, however, is to repaint. An accent wall is a simple way to change the entire feel of a room and use bold colors in your living space. If you choose a bold spring color such as yellow, make sure you will be able to tie your room’s decor to the accent wall for the rest of the year.

There’s no doubt that we welcome spring with open arms. Taking a little extra time to prepare your home for spring, however, can make a big difference in enjoying the season.





Make Every Hour Count!

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

We can relate. We LOVE sleep. Life for your average go-getter is inherently busy, and the idea of falling into your warm bed to drift off into a heavy sleep will almost certainly always draw a smile.

That’s why many people aren’t looking forward to March 10, the dreaded ‘Spring Forward’ of Daylight Savings Time. How DARE they take away an hour of our beloved z’s?

You could look at it that way. But glass-is-half-full kind of folk instead circle the 10th of March on their calendar with a bright red marker, knowing that they will have one extra hour of sunlight (or at least daylight) in their day.

Spring is inching closer – what will you do with that additional hour? We have a few suggestions:

  • Go for a Run: The average person can make it 2-4 miles in 60 minutes.
  • Watch Two Episodes of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross: ‘Cause if happy little trees don’t make your day, we’re not sure we want to know you.

Photo Courtesy: Biography.com

  • Get/Give an Hour Massage: Treat yourself, or treat your significant other!
  • Listen to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin 15 Times: You might want to sing it note for note…

  • Take a Hot Bubble Bath: For a better experience, add wine.
  • Build a Fort with Your Kids: Because it will make their weekend.

Photo Courtesy of: Healthy Gallatin

  • Try a new recipe: No longer winter, not quite spring…might we recommend some BFD (Breakfast for Dinner)?
  • Learn a Magic Trick: Make people think you’re a wizard. And always have an ice breaker at the bar.
  • Watch the Sunset with Your Spouse: Because it no longer takes place at 4:30 PM.

Photo Courtesy of: imgur.com

No matter what you do, change your Spring Forward mindset, and make the most of the time you’ve been given!



d’aprile Locales – Pier 290

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: Pier 290
THEIR STORY: No one knows the history of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin quite like Gage Marine, who can trace their roots back to 1873 and the launching of the original Lady of the Lake. President Bill Gage realized quickly after taking over the family business that, in order to please both the lake locals and visitors alike, you need to provide them all with the perfect spot to gather for good food, good spirits, and spectacular sunset views. Mission accomplished: with the opening of Pier 290 in 2012, he quickly accomplished this tasteful trifecta of lake living.
Just stepped off your boat and looking for a craft cocktail to quench your thirst after a long day on the lake? You’ve come to the right place.
Looking to grab a quick bite while watching all the boat and jet ski action on a summer afternoon? Pull up a chair, they’ve got you covered.
Maybe you’re in search of the right place to simply sit back, exhale, and watch the sun trail off below the horizon?  A candle-lit table awaits.
The point is – no matter what your reason is for stopping by – no one offers a better view of lake life than Pier 290.
WHAT’S HOT:  Checking out the menu, it’s hard not to gravitate toward the Chilean Sea Bass, served on a sauté of tomato succotash and veggies, glazed with sweet Thai chili sauce. Wash that down with Pier 290’s house cocktail, the Happy Ending – vodka, fresh lemon, lime and orange, a dash of bitters, and topped with Squirt over ice.

PIER 290

1 Liechty Dr

Williams Bay, Wisconsin 53191


A Day On the Links


Sometimes, after a hard day’s work, a little time out of the office is the cure for what ails ya! On September 25, d’aprile properties was once again excited to join our friends at Midwest Lending, who sponsored our annual Golf Outing! Agents, Loan Officers, and Support Team members got together for a day on the links at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton, IL.


d’aprile properties and Midwest Lending are close partners in the real estate market, and the camaraderie was even more intense on the course! A shotgun-style tournament was held, and 4-person teams had a blast taking part in a little healthy competition.
The sun was shining, the smiles were bright, and the backswings (for the most part) were true. A great time was had by all, and we are already looking forward to next year’s event! Thanks again Midwest Lending!



d’aprile Locales – On Tour Brewing Company – West Town

At d’aprile properties, we feel that the word ‘community’ means more than a subdivision or zip code. A community is defined by the character of its people – a combination of work ethic, pride, and spirit that brings everyone together, in a place they happily call home.  That’s why we’ve created ‘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:

On Tour Brewing Company

THEIR STORY: For Owner/Founder Mark Legenza, it began as a hobby, brewing homemade beer in his garage with friends for eight years. That hobby quickly became a passion, and after winning home-brewing awards at both the local and national level, gave him confidence that he could successfully open his own place. Today, that passion has become a lifestyle, as this third-generation Chicagoan has returned home to open On Tour Brewing Company along West Hubbard Street. Once an area known for its industrial factories and warehouses, the emergence of several local breweries has locals referring to this West Town neighborhood as ‘The Brewing District’.

THEIR VIBE: A wide variety of carefully crafted beers is what brings you in the door, but for the team at On Tour, there is more to the experience than barley and hops. “When you host a party at your house, there are certain things you have to provide your guests: cleanliness, hospitality, and a nice, comfortable space that has something for everyone,” Legenza says. “My wife and I are always the ones hosting parties, and I wanted to bring that same at-home feeling to your local brewery.” On Tour is immaculately clean, and kid-friendly. But what makes it unique is the enormous garage door that, when weather permits, is open wide along a peaceful street, welcoming the sunshine and fresh air to the overall ambiance.

Take a 360º Virtual Tour of On Tour Brewery


WHAT’S HOT: Perfect for quenching your thirst, treat yourself to On Tour’s current favorite, Cities – a goes-down-easy Mexican Lager that Legenza perfectly describes as ‘super-crushable’ on a hot Chicago summer day.

For more information on On Tour Brewery, check out their:

All photos courtesy of On Tour Brewing Company

A Place in the Sun, Part 4: Let Your Patio Tell the Story of Your Summer

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees…I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. –F. Scott Fitzgerald

You said it, Fitzy.  Summertime is more than just shorts and swimming pools.  From June to August, life’s personality gets more vibrant.  Old Man Winter is all about baking and hiding under blankets.  But Summer brings out the kid in all of us, dreaming of Slip ‘N Slides and backyard BBQ’s.  

If you paid heed to anything we said in Parts 1-3, then you’ve taken care of the ‘responsible’ stuff, the adult stuff.  Now it’s time to have a little fun, and let your imagination turn your patio or deck into a warm weather oasis (on a budget).

 Keep Things Comfy, and Create Your Calm

It’s hard to wash away the stress of the work week if you don’t have a comfortable spot to retreat to.  You can find inexpensive patio furniture at IKEA, but know what to look for.  Be frugal, but don’t skimp on quality.  Your outdoor pieces have to stand up to the elements, so look for strong cushions and fabrics.  Make sure what you buy is easily portable, for storage out of the sun when not in use.

Now how ‘bout a little ambiance?  Plant some mature lemon grass in your garden and around your deck – it’s a natural mosquito repellant.  And if your space is short on shade, a quick DIY misting rack or waterslide can be finished in a matter of minutes, to keep everyone calm and cool.

Time to Light Up the Night

Just because the sun has set, doesn’t mean it’s time to call it a night.  You can’t enjoy S’mores in the daytime, can you?  Well, I guess you could, but it just seems wrong.  You have multiple options for backyard lighting, depending on your budget.  But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, inexpensive solar lights or candles create a warm look that sets the right, quiet mood. 

But in general, people tend to gather, and your back yard needs a centerpiece.  A simple, DIY fire pit can be built within hours, and for only about $50.  Always practice safety – let the fire burn down completely if you can before heading inside.  But if you need to extinguish quickly, use a shovel or stick to spread the ashes evenly, then pour water over the pit, making sure to completely saturate the fire.  Stir the ashes and saturate one more time, until everything is cool to the touch.

Now you’re ready for the Summer!  Sit back, pour something over ice, and spend the time with those who mean the most to you, because it won’t last forever.  The nights will inevitably cool, and your tan lines will slowly fade.  But the memories of Summer can last a lifetime, as long as you create them at home.