Edgeville Buzz

Section Of Berwyn Renamed In Honor Of Ollie’s Lounge Co-owner


Photo Courtesy 48th Ward Office.

You’re likely familiar with her, because she co-owns a bar that’s sat on the corner of Berwyn and Winthrop avenues for 40 years. You’ve likely seen her, because she worked for decades with children in Cedar Playlot Park. And even if you never knew her name, now you will, because a corner has been named in her honor.

On Sunday, the northeast corner of Winthrop and Berwyn avenues was designated as “Ms. Ollie’s Way” in recognition of Ollie Latiker, the co-owner of Ollie’s Lounge, a neighborhood bar located at 1064 W. Berwyn Ave.

In an announcement from 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman’s office, Latiker was described as someone who “has set an example as a responsible business owner and engaged member of our community.”

“I’m very grateful to Harry and for his support,” Latiker said on Monday when reached at the lounge she co-owns with Sherwin Packer. “I’m proud of the neighborhood.”

She and Packer purchased Ollie’s Lounge 40 years ago at a time when the neighborhood was very different.

“It was a lot of renters, and now it’s condos and townhouses,” Latiker said. “There aren’t as many families as when I first came around here.”

At that time, in the mid-1970s, “they called this Little Mexico, and we had so many gangs,” she said. “And now you never see a gang member. I know they are here, but they are not visible like they used to be.”

It was and remains a tight-knit neighborhood, Latiker said. “We had a phone tree,” she said, which worked to inform people in the area about troublemakers. These days, the crime rate is much lower, but even now, when neighbors say they are going on vacation, other neighbors look out for them, she said. “Everybody seems to get along very, very well.”

Latiker worked for years as a Sunday School teacher at Epworth United Methodist Church, 5253 N. Kenmore Ave. There used to be 10-15 children per Sunday School class, she said, adding that times are different now. “Kids don’t come to Sunday School like they used to, but a lot of the kids at the church — their parents know me,” she chuckled.

Many of those adults are also likely acquainted with her through her efforts to improve Cedar Playlot Park. Osterman’s office said Latiker served as a catalyst for the renovation of the playlot on Winthrop, where, over the years, she spearheaded cleanups and cookouts.

Osterman’s office also said Latiker has acted as a friend and role model to several generations of neighborhood children.

Additionally, Latiker helped improve safety in her area of Edgewater as an active Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) representative.

These days, Latiker no longer teaches Sunday School at Epworth United Methodist Church. Instead, she’s a greeter every Sunday.“I’m a people person,” she laughed.

Yet some children have recognized her efforts from so long ago. One young man named John told her last year that she worked with him in the playlot. “He’s been going to college for two years,” Latiker said. “He dropped by to see me. It’s nice to have the kids drop in.”

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