Edgeville Buzz

Lickity Split To Open Pop-Up Cafe At Edgewater Beach Apartments This Summer, Food Trucks Will Also Participate

split-1It used to sell the finest cigars and perfumes, ice cream sundaes and sandwiches before it became a floral shop in the light pink iconic landmark known as the Edgewater Beach Apartments.

Starting April 29 and every Friday after that until at least around Labor Day, the old floral shop at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Sheridan will return to its roots, selling exactly what its Italian marble soda fountain from the 1920s was created to prepare in the first placeice cream, this time prepared by Lickity Split Frozen Custard & Sweets.

“There are probably 15,000 people a day on those busses (along Sheridan Road), and every time we are in the space, people have their noses up to the glass, and they want to know what’s going on in here,” said Jennifer Borchardt, interim executive director of the Edgewater Development Corp.

The EDC is a not-for-profit that seeks to fill all retail/commercial vacancies and enhance the economic development of the community. It’s orchestrating the Pop-Up that ultimately hopes to find someone to permanently lease that space located at 5557 N. Sheridan Road.

“We’ve got an estimated 10,000 residents on Sheridan from 6300 Devon,” said Paul Foley, a board member for the EDC. He said a lot of those residents don’t come east.

“We want to revitalize that corner, and drive community members to Edgewater’s main street, which is Bryn Mawr Avenue. By having Lickity Split activating that corner, we are hoping that it will really revitalize it,” Borchardt said. “We feel (Edgewater Beach Apartments) has become disconnected from the Bryn Mawr Historic District.”

Visitors to Kathy Osterman Beach, quite popular during the summers, will now have a place to purchase ice cream and sandwiches just around the corner on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. until at least Labor Day.

Food trucks will sell items as well, and there are also plans for family- and pet-friendly events, too, Borchardt said. Music is a possibility, too.

The Pop-Up is a throwback to the 1920s when the Edgewater Beach Hotel was in its heyday. That’s when soda fountains and pharmacies used to pair together like bowties and tuxedos, and jazz used to fill the air in what Beth Tarrant-Tenney said used to be considered Chicago’s North Side countryside.

“They were kind of the pillars of every community,” the florist said of the combination of soda fountains and pharmacies. In fact, she used to know the pharmacist who ran the one that will be the center of each Friday’s festivities there at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Sheridan.

Much of what made this particular soda fountain/pharmacy so unique is still there.

“It’s stunning,” Tarrant-Tenney said. Besides the Italian marble soda fountain from the 1920s, the interior of the space also contains leaded glass, a couple of the original marble tables to match the marble on the bar, and windows on all three sides.

These days, those standing at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Sheridan Road will see the curved sign for Anna Held Florist and Cafe at the rounded diagonal. That’s where Tarrant-Tenney ran her floral studio — and, at first, food service business — when she first purchased the space.

“The neighborhood has had its ebbs and flows, but at one time it was a destination when the Edgewater Beach Hotel was vibrant,” she said. “People are very nostalgic about the hotel. Jazz was being broadcasted. It had a boardwalk. It even had a water taxi — you could take a water taxi Downtown. It had an outside orchestra pit. It was really the bomb. This was the edge of the city. This was almost like the country out here.”

“I loved the stories that the pharmacist would often tell me from the 1920s and 1930s — that when the place was built, the soda fountain and the corner pharmacy had seven full-time pharmacists,” Tarrant-Tenney said. “It was open 24 hours a day, and it had the largest selection of imported perfume. There was a humidor. They sold the best imported cigars. Originally, they sold packaged good … cigars, perfume, imported candies, and then it just went down from there. So I would love to see this neighborhood have some of the grandeur that it had when it was originally developed.”

FTF-Flier_4-14-16She doesn’t know the name of the original owner of the soda fountain. But she bought what she now calls the Anna Held Flower Studio from Bill Brandt and John Tolman, who themselves bought the flower shop name from Held. At that point, the flower shop was located next door to the soda fountain/pharmacy. She’s owned her business for 30 years.

“When the pharmacist on the corner retired, I put (the Anna Held name) on the corner,” Tarrant-Tenney said, adding that it was a gift shop and a pharmacy when she first moved in. The front was the display portion, and they made flower arrangements in the back. She said she didn’t know, at the time, that she was also signing up for a job in the food preparation business. 

At that time, she had a partner who did the food preparation. “We used to say, ‘it was a huge success, but it wasn’t profitable,’ she chuckled, adding that the menu got trimmed down over the years. But it was typical soda fountain food — ham sandwiches, paninis, smoothies.

She moved last August, in the middle of the wedding season, into a space 60 steps south that had been vacant for 18 years, but it’s still in the same building at 5557 N. Sheridan Road. Now, she doesn’t prepare food or sell gifts. Instead, she sells flowers, plants, and cards, and the work of local artists.

Meanwhile, other first-floor tenants include a doctor, a physical therapist, a dentist, a wedding consultant and a dry cleaner. Above those businesses are the actual Edgewater Beach Apartments, she said.

“My hope is that someone will eventually take over that place — a young entrepreneur with a new following, to bring some new traffic to our great existing building and corridor,” Tarrant-Tenney said.

About the Pop-Up: “I think it’s wonderful, it’s long overdue. If you look at the demographics, how many thousands of people live within a very short radius. It was always somewhat disheartening that they couldn’t support the local businesses. They refer to it as a suitcase community, they go home but they shop elsewhere. The idea of going out and supporting local businesses would be wonderful.”

Now, rain or shine — Lickity Split will hold its events inside the old soda fountain — the Pop-Ups will continue until at least after Labor Day. And, they’ll bring food trucks with them, Borchardt said, as well as plans for family-friendly and pet-friendly events.

Foley, a board member of the Edgewater Development Corp., said one reason he’s excited about the Pop-Up is that it will help rekindle interest in that side of Edgewater.

“It almost feels like that building is just for people who live there,” he said. “People don’t use it because they think it’s closed, they think it’s private. We want to help to revitalize that whole corner there and make it part of the Bryn Mawr Historic District. It will be really neat once it’s completed.”

It’s only a six or seven block walk from Andersonville. It’s also easy to get to. Both the 147 bus and the 151 bus stop there, and the CTA Red Line’s Bryn Mawr station is just one block away. Plus, when the weather turns much warmer, it will be a natural stop for those who usually pack Kathy Osterman Beach.

The goal, of course, is to get a permanent tenant into the old soda fountain/pharmacy. If no lease is signed by the end of the summer, the EDC hopes to be able to continue to offer food service at that location for the commuter traffic during the winter.

Lickity Split has two locations — one at 6056 N Broadway St. in Edgewater, and another at 7000 N. Western Ave. in Rogers Park.

“I’m super excited to be a part of it,” said Ken Anderson, who owns Lickity Split along with Luke Klein. “I’m hoping that it will be very successful because of the history of the building and because of the exposure that we are going to get. We love being part of the Edgewater community, and we want to help out as much as we can.”

For more information, visit the EDC.

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