If you’ve walked past the corner of 5th & Adams recently, you have most likely noticed a few changes happening inside the previous Driftwood Restaurant space. The bar has been updated… will it be a bar? There are dining tables… will it be a restaurant? But wait, there are workstations with computers (and sometimes people working at them)… is it an office?
The answer is yes. To all of it.
Partners Eric Broughton and Francisco Saravia will be opening The Incubator in October. The Cafe + Bar & Workspace was partly inspired by WeWork, which is a national company featuring highly-designed common spaces that includes natural light and a community to provide inspiration. The north side of the space will host a membership based co-workspace for digital start-ups & freelancers.
Benefits will include not only the workspace (with a stellar downtown view), but also discounts on services provided by Broughton and team. With a marketing background, Broughton has a talent for app development, e-commerce, website creation and other digital platforms. “Our ultimate goal is to re-invest our profits in our member start-ups as angel investors,” he explains.
The south side of the space will be the Cafe + Bar. “Why does a workspace have to JUST BE a workspace?” Broughton asked himself. That’s when he came up with the idea of integrating a restaurant and bar into The Incubator. The Cafe + Bar area is open to the public and will have a trendy menu of power bowls, a grab & go refrigerator, a simple coffee menu and of course adult beverages.
“We want this to be a place where people can get out of their cubicle, enjoy the sunlight through the windows, grab an espresso or drink and get some work done,” he explains. The partners have created an atmosphere for business after hours as well, with hopes it will be utilized for meetings, brainstorming sessions, and general good vibery. “Our mission is to change the downtown culture to be a start-up culture with young creative jobs,” Broughton says. They will start here, but “eventually want to build up the brand and franchise.”
With a resume full of start-ups of his own, Broughton has been through all of this before. He currently runs “Interactive Media“, a marketing & app development company. He was also the co-founder of “FitTube“, a fitness app. He has an MBA in Banking & Finance, but “my real passion is creating my own products.”
Once officially open, the Co-Workspace will be open Monday – Friday 7am – 5pm.
The Cafe + Bar will be open Monday – Wednesday 7am – 5pm & Thursday – Saturday 7am – 1am.
This Thursday, September 20, the alley just south of the Myer’s building will be filled with creatives and their fans from 5:30 – 9pm. Adding to last year’s successful art, 3 new professional artist murals will be debuted and an interactive mural will be painted the night of with public participation. A pop-up art show will also be on display just for the evening. Chicago based DJ and funk re-mixer, Acid Dad Crash Pad will be providing music. Complimentary appetizers by Augie’s Front Burner and a cash bar will be available. Admission is $10 online and $15 at the door. All proceeds benefit future public art projects, part of DSI’s program for downtown revitalization.
Although the celebration of this public art lasts just the evening, the muralists have been working for weeks to finish their pieces. This is the largest scale art most of them have ever created. Locals have enjoyed watching them progress each day and many stop to offer water, conversation and even help!
Newcomer to the scene, Jen Santarelli is an abstract painter who is interested in breaking down common objects like maps and comic book pages into their most basic design elements. Using acrylic paint on canvas, her work has been included in shows at the Pharmacy Gallery, SAA’s BackDoor Gallery, Radon Lounge, and various pop-up art shows around central Illinois.
Jeff C Williams may be the most well-known in the bunch, as his local popularity stems from singing in the band NIL8. Jeff’s artwork is reminiscent of graffiti and tattoo art, which makes his talent an incredible fit for this event. He volunteers on many local boards, including The Pharmacy Gallery and Art Space. Williams is a lover of bicycling, and has a true niche of combining his love of cycling and painting, landing his canvases in numerous galleries as well as on the cover of a national magazine.
Brytton Bjorngaard, Shane Harris, Allison Lacher, and Jeff Robinson are Springfield-based artists and frequent collaborators. They are colleagues in the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Department of Art, Music, and Theater. They were among a tight-knit group of artists that ran DEMO Project, a space for contemporary art in Springfield that gained national acclaim, and served as Co-Directors of the space until its demolition in 2018. They are committed to art education through teaching, exhibitions, and community programs.
This event is only possible because of our sponsors: Solomon Colors, Crawford Murphy and Tilly, and PPG Paints. This year’s building facades were generously provided by the Nickell and Stern Families. Special thanks go to Springfield Art Association staff Erin Svendsen and Corrin McWhirter, members of the Design Council and champions for community art.
For many of us, we watched the kids head back to school this week. This brings a little anxiety, as homework is sure to follow, along with running them all over town to club & sport activities. However, it also brings a sense of relief as we settle into a routine. Being that the end of summer can bring so many mixed feelings & stresses, it is the perfect time to spoil ourselves and enjoy a little pampering! Our downtown neighborhood provides opportunities from massage, to manicures, to even an old-fashioned clean shave for men.
Part of the appeal of Moxie is that they are not a Mega-Spa. You are greeted and treated by the owner and her small staff. It is a hidden gem among a quiet street snuggled in between law offices and empty buildings. When you walk in, the atmosphere is quiet, cozy and tranquil. Moxie offers services different from any other place downtown, including couples massages, and a chocolate wrap that uses actual chocolate (and the natural oils in it) to moisturize skin. Their service menu also includes the basics like deep tissue, swedish massages and a variety of facials. This month, they read our minds and are offering a “Back-to-School Special” that consists of a 30 min massage & mini facial for just $60.
Dalliance is popular for their hair & make-up services, although their service list also includes waxing, lash & brow lift & tents, and facials & body treatments. Owner Shandi Brown has created a fun & laid back atmosphere in her salon that is usually filled with chatting & giggling customers. The most unique and stand-out service this salon provides is definitely the make-up options. Their portfolio of airbrush techniques is impressive and you will definitely want to ring them for your next costume party, as their Special Effects Make-up talents are jaw-dropping.
This is your full-service go-to for downtown. Willow & Birch offers everything from expert hair services, to manicures, to body & facial treatments, to even a boutique. Their massive 3-story location is newly renovated and overlooks some of the most beautiful sites in our neighborhood. When you walk in, you immediately feel that you have been transported to a large city salon with a sweet, outgoing staff. The main floor houses check-in and a boutique filled with spa products, trendy clothing, accessories, & home decor. If you are there for hair or nail treatments, you head up to the third floor with a large atrium that looks over the boutique. Their stylists travel to the east & west coast for training to bring you the most up-to-date techniques. If you are there for a facial or waxing, you take the elevator down to the bottom floor where you can enjoy a dim & calming relaxation area while you wait. Willow & Birch uses chemical free & vegan friendly offerings in all of their services.
“Blades & Bottles” is the tagline of this unique downtown business that pampers Dad in all the right ways. They offer full-service barbering with a full-service bar. Their services include traditional scissor & razor cuts, hot shaves and beard trims. You get the feeling you stepped back 60 years when you walk in, as the vintage, rockabilly atmosphere welcomes you. Through a swing door, you can sit and enjoy craft beer, artisan spirits and/or a glass of fine wine while you wait for your appointment.
Monday morning will be a little different for past DSI president, Mark Tomaw. After 42 years at RSM, Mark will be retiring. He spent his entire career just off the Old State Capitol Plaza, with office locations in the PNC building and the eponymous building where Innovate Springfield resides currently. He head up several programs & events and served countless volunteer hours with a dream of making Downtown what it was when he began working in the 70’s.
He kindly lent me a few minutes of his last week (still filled with work travel & meetings until the very end) and we discussed the changes he’s noticed in our neighborhood over the years. His stories are plentiful and familiar as he shared memories of loss and re-growth.
What was downtown like when you began your career here?
It was a lot different back then, there was a lot more people working downtown… a more sense of vibrancy than we have seen in recent years. I can still remember, in the summer, if you went out on the Plaza, people were just lined up along the Old Capitol fence sitting and eating lunch and just spending time. The number of employees filled up our entire neighborhood. You had CIPS in the Illinois Building, the banks were multi-level, not to mention the state agencies that were downtown that aren’t anymore. So… big difference there.
What year were you President of DSI?
Awww… you would ask that! I believe it was ’06/’07. RSM initially began a relationship with DSI by doing their payroll taxes. I think the executive director at the time asked if I would consider joining the board. Then, at some point, I was treasurer, and then cycled through. I followed Cindy Davis. I think I was the 7th president.
What issues were you working on as a board at that time?
You’re talking 10 years ago now… so… [laughs]. To some extent, the issues were similar. Continuing to try to fill empty space, to try to promote downtown, maintain the historical integrity but promote the economic vibrancy. Early on, before I was president, I know that one of the first big issues that came up was the space at the corner of 5th & Adams, where Driftwood was. It was known as the K-mart building, because when I came down, it was a K-mart. It was empty and deteriorating and there were concerns because it was so prominent off the plaza. We needed someone to renovate it. That ultimately got done, but it was the catalyst for DSI to determine that we need a charitable organization that would be in a position where an owner of a building could donate a building, get a charitable deduction and then could use that to facilitate to get the property in the hands of a developer. That’s how the Heritage Foundation came about. It was very active for several years.
We started the Taste of Downtown, which ultimately became the Blues & BBQ (which is now run by Barry Friedman). The Farmer’s Market began when I was on the board as well.
I can remember some really tight times when I was treasurer. We got lucky when the weather was nice and we could get our head’s above water with the fundraising.
What do you think we need to do as a community to improve our downtown?
If I had that answer, I would have been bringing that up a long time ago [laughs]. I continue to think that we have to foster a good relationship without the City. I just think that the type of organization that DSI is… it cannot reach it’s potential with that support. That’s a challenge, because the City faces it’s own issues from a financing standpoint. Beyond that, I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer. Once you get people down here, there are wonderful restaurants and shops… we just need to get them here.
From your experience, where do you see it going from here?
Obviously, I want to see it more vibrant than it is. The nightlife is much more than it was when I first started. There are so many restaurants and music. We also have so many more downtown residents… I want to see that continue to grow.
After 42 years working in the same location, what is your favorite place…
to have lunch? Of all the years, definitely Cafe Moxo
to have a drink after work? I know what it was 40 years ago… there was a little place just south of Capitol called Midway Pub. It’s an empty lot now.
to shop? I never did much shopping… ask my wife [laughs].
So, what now?
“We’ll travel a bit. I’m thinking I’ll just see how it goes… I don’t want to be too busy”, he says with an sly smile.
This morning, the Sangamon Mass Transit District (SMTD) announced a discount fare for the Downtown Shuttle. Regularly priced at $1.25 per ride, the reduced fair is only $1.00 per ride. Additionally, there is a discount pass good for 10 rides that costs just $5.00. Passes can be shared by families or friends riding together. This is perfect timing as the summer heat makes hopping on an air conditioned shuttle pretty tempting!!
Passes can be picked up at the SMTD Offices at 928 South 9th St. or are available on the shuttle directly. Note that drivers are not equipped to make change and cannot accept debit or credit cards, so exact change will be needed.
The Downtown Shuttle has faced a danger of being cancelled, which would be tragic to many retail shops & restaurants. The route is based primarily on key business corridors in the downtown neighborhood. As many local business owners know, we get plenty of complaints about parking (although garage parking is plentiful). The Downtown Shuttle is a welcoming solution to giving tourists and locals alike an easy way to get around.
The service runs every 20 minutes from 6:20am to 6:20pm and every 10 minutes from 11:20am to 1:40pm Monday – Friday. To see the route and learn pick-up/drop-off times, visit the SMTD Downtown Shuttle website.
Look for signs at the following locations: Stratton Building, Washington & 2nd, Capitol & 5th, and Adams & 7th.
Last year, local jewelry maker & shop owner, Rachel Bonney was ready to change up her “Roost” a bit and began thinking of ways to enhance her product offerings. At that point, she had success selling handmade home goods, gifts and artisan jewelry. “I looked around at what Downtown was offering, and I realized there was need for quality, trendy clothing.” explains Bonney, “There are plenty of shops that sell handmade clothing, but because of the extensive work that goes into creating those, the cost is high”.
She started researching wholesale markets and vendors to find the style of clothing that would match her customer’s needs. It’s easy to see that she studied the market well and has brought the latest fashion to her shop. Now, when you walk into The Roost, you will find an entire wall of beautiful dresses, tops, and skirts. The best part? It’s extremely affordable.
As a downtown business owner, you get to know your customer base and Bonney says her main shoppers are urban-styled women who enjoy “simple with a twist”. “Over the years, I’ve had a few people compare The Roost to a local Anthropologie but with more unique offerings.” she says, which is certainly true in her fashion choices. We decided to show just how amazing her new clothing line is below and threw in a few comparisons along with it!
A wrap dress is a classic. It accentuates every woman’s curves, is comfy and will never go out of style. This one in particular flaunts warm colors that will easily carry you into autumn evenings. Anthro’s price is $168, The Roost’s price… $30
Here’s a similar comparison: geometric is huge right now in trends, as is the asymmetrical hemline. The dresses above feature both of these, but Anthro’s price is $158 and The Roost’s price is just a fraction at… $30
Embroidery isn’t just for our grandmothers’ hand-towels anymore. This intricate art has been showing up in fashion for the last couple years and makes it’s boldest statement in simple black & white. Anthro’s price (on sale) is $59.95. The Roost’s… an easy $24
Next up, we have the romper… comfy, feminine, and oh so darling in pink! Throw over your swimsuit as a cover-up, or brave the hot summer evenings and wear as a sexy statement. We found a comparison for this one at Free People ($88), versus The Roost… $30
Fringe & flow is the perfect way to make your cozy weekend stylish. Above, in shades of blue & green, you can take your choice at the details of how to pull it off. But, at Free People’s price of $128, and The Roost’s price of $26, we think we know which way you’ll go.
So, forget any misconceptions that downtown boutiques are expensive and limited… nothing could be further from the truth! Stop by The Roost next time you need a little retail therapy and shop owner, Rachel Bonney will help you find your best style without breaking your wallet.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of visiting with Connor Homann from What’s The Shirt inside of Old Capitol Goods. A self-proclaimed “International T-Shirt Mogul”, Connor brings his quirky sense of humor to this charming shop off the Plaza. Connor’s parent’s opened Old Capitol Goods years ago, and as you often see with local businesses, this innovative son has taken over for his parents and brought with him some new upgrades.
Connor’s father originally offered screen-printing capabilities in the back of the shop, often producing large amounts of t-shirts for local company fundraisers and events. After learning about not only screen-printing, but also direct to garment (DTG) printing in St. Louis, Connor decided to apply his talents here in Springfield.
There are a few things that make this a specialized offering, of which no one else in town provides. The first being that What’s The Shirt uses water-based inks which are all eco-friendly. Most t-shirt companies use a type of plastisol ink that is harmful to the environment. Connor’s DTG technique produces a softer, more light-weight feel on the t-shirt, versus the textured feeling of vinyl. Another awesome specialization is that What’s The Shirt can print just one of a design. Many t-shirt providers require a minimum order due to the work that goes into the set-up. “Think of it as a comparison to your printer at home”, Connor explains.
“You can print just one, or many, where as if you need a mass amount of prints, you would go to a printing company.” The largest run of t-shirts that Connor has printed with the DTG technique is around 400 for last year’s Amaranth Apple Festival. He also still provides traditional screen-printing for larger orders if requested. What’s The Shirt can create custom designs from scratch, offer design assistance, or simply print what you send them over email. How easy is that?!
Another upgrade Connor has brought to this local shop is an online store, DivergenTee. You can find over 450 pre-designed offerings that are funny, cultural and/or political. “I’ve had great success with this”, he says, which really says a lot considering the competitiveness of online shopping these days.
So, next time you need a single gift or a large order of t-shirts, be sure to check out What’s the Shirt and hit up Connor. You’ll enjoy, if nothing else, his great conversation and humor (but I can almost promise you’ll walk away with a new shirt).
The Springfield Area Arts Council (SAAC) has produced summertime concerts for over thirty years. The outdoor performance series is called “Artist on the Plaza,” and it features local talent on the Old State Capitol Plaza/Grounds every Wednesday from noon to 1 pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Funding comes from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the City of Springfield, and downtown merchants — meaning you can grab your lunch to go, grab a table and a chair outside on the Plaza, and relax to different music each week, all for free!
6 – Springfield Area Youth Jazz Band, instrumental jazz
13 – Carole Vetter, rhythm and blues vocalist
20 – Tater Tot, eclectic vocal and instrumental
27 – Phil Steinberg, Sinatra stylist
4 – Rick Dunham, Elvis Himselvis
11 – Matt Mifflin, vocal and guitar
18 – Britney Long, singer/songwriter
25 – Casey Cantrall, vocal and guitar
1 – Saint Andrew’s Society, Scottish dance
8 – Springfield Dance Theatre, dancers
15 – Rowdy Dawson, country-western vocal and guitar
Downtown has a lot of great festivals (one of them being DSI’s Amaranth Apple Fest) and great weekends, but one could argue that this weekend is THE BIGGEST WEEKEND of the year in Downtown Springfield. Throw together the state’s largest outdoor art festival, drag queens, fresh produce and a race of pink-adorned people — not to mention downtown’s shops, restaurants and bars — and you could literally spend every few hours doing something new, fun and fresh. And not even spend as much as you would during a day at a theme park!
To help you plan your weekend adventure, here are the links to the most popular events taking place on Saturday and Sunday plus a map of the street closures.
The first Saturday of Springfield’s “Best Community Event” includes performances by Springfield Youth Performance Group, a free community workout by Pure Performance, a chef demonstration by Maldaner’s chef Michael Higgins, music by Rachel Rambach and complimentary cake for all patrons thanks to vendor and downtown restaurant Incredibly Delicious.
Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 10 am – 4 pm around the Old State Capitol at 5th and Washington
Whether you are a serious art collector or are just developing an appreciation, there is original art here for you, in the form of jewelry, sculpture, photography, glassware, pottery, wood, metalwork, oils, watercolors, and other media.
The Old Capitol Farmer’s Market — voted Best Community Event, Best Weekend Activity and Best Fresh Produce in 2017 – is back for the 2018 season at 4th and Adams!! Thanks to HSHS St. John’s Hospital for their generous support as premier sponsor.
The Old Capitol Farmers Market is proud to continue its status as the area’s only producer-only farmers market. This means that all products are grown, raised, or handmade by each vendor and nothing is re-sold or mass produced. Over the last two years, the Market has tightened its inspection policy to insure the integrity of the producer-only status.
“Shoppers can feel confident that when they shop at the Old Capitol Farmers Market that they are getting the freshest produce and proteins raised right here in Illinois by the farmers standing in front of them,” said Deborah Cavanagh-Grant, Old Capitol Farmer’s Market Manager. The producer-only rule is part of a larger effort to help shoppers know their farmers and better understand and invest in local food systems.
What’s New in the 2018 Season?
Junior League of Springfield Partnership to Help Decrease Food Insecurity
The Junior League of Springfield (JLS), a 75-year-old local service organization, adopted an Issue Based Community Impact model in 2014 in order to better strengthen the skills of members and create more community impact. Since establishing “food insecurity” as their focus area, JLS has committed over 200 hours of service toward this issue.
The Old Capitol Farmers Market has been chosen as the avenue for Junior League to partner to combat food insecurity over the next several years. Citing the Market’s successful use of SNAP benefit matches totaling more than $16-thousand in 2017 alone, Lindsay Bentivegna, President of JLS, said, “Partnering with the Old Capitol Farmers Market and its SNAP Match Program will allow Junior League members to interact with those coming to the farmer’s market and help influence the positive outcomes of the SNAP Match program.”
Junior League members will be actively involved with data collection, fundraising and event planning, and program implementation with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, specifically related to their day-to-day management of the Market.
ISA secured the largest SNAP grant match in the Market’s history this year, totaling $11,000 from Link Up Illinois, a program of non-profit Experimental Station. The money has increased for our Market because it has so successfully found an audience who can use Link benefits for purchases of locally grown fruits and vegetables from our vendors.
Look For the “Signature Ingredients!”
This season it will be easier than ever to find the freshest local ingredients at the food trucks and prepared food vendors at the Old Capitol Farmers Market, thanks to the new “Signature Ingredient” chalkboard signs.
Each food vendor has committed to purchasing and highlighting at least one Market ingredient on their menu each week– the “signature ingredient.” It could be anything from local eggs in your breakfast tacos, to farm-fresh blueberries in your muffins, to perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes tucked into your burrito.
The signature ingredient program helps build connections between small farms and local businesses, keeps money local, and gives patrons the choice to eat local and try out the freshest seasonal ingredients.
New Options on Adams Street
The economic benefits for both the local farmer and artisan community, as well as the businesses in the vicinity of the Old Capitol Farmers Market, are clear and have led to many of the Adams Street vacancies filling in with new brick-and-mortar businesses that Market patrons should check out this season. Itty Bitty Fashion Truck started as a Market vendor and has been open in their “permanent home” since November at 403 E Adams. They will be hosting special summer hours all Market season, opening at 8 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
New brewery Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. opened earlier this year at 406 E Adams Street to rave reviews and will have special Saturday hours, opening at 10 am, during the Market. Kiddos by Urban Sassafras, a second venture from Cassandra Pence Ostermeier, has weekend-only hours at 407 E Adams, offering free interactive art activities for kids of all ages and Take-and-Make kits for sale. “The Market is where Urban Sassafras really took off, and I’m happy to have an outpost there again,” said Ostermeier.
Look For Local Businesses at the Commercial Tent
You may also find some new local businesses whom you hadn’t heard about at DSI’s new “Commercial Tent,” located at the northwest corner of 4th and Adams on various Saturdays throughout the Market. Based on the Logan Square Farmers Market in the Chicagoland area, the Commercial Tent provides locally-owned Springfield businesses an opportunity to inform market goers about their products and services.