News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Ask the Gazebo: When Will Target Open in Lake Bluff?

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

A GazeboNews reader recently inquired as to when work would begin on the new Target store in Lake Bluff.

The Lake Bluff Board of Trustees signed off on a resolution back in June that gave Target the green light to move forward with the development. And, according to the Village of Lake Bluff, in January of this year, Target Corp. closed on the former Shepard Chevrolet property where the future store will be built.

At the time, demolition was said to begin this spring, with a tentative opening date of fall 2015.

According to Lake Bluff Village Administrator Drew Irvin, as of today, Target has not yet filed a demolition permit with the Village, so it’s not known when the project will get underway.

For more information about the Target development, click here.

Standing Desks Are Upstanding New Trend at Lake Bluff, Lake Forest Schools

Gabe, a fourth-grader at Lake Bluff Elementary School.

Gabe, a fourth grader at Lake Bluff Elementary School.

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

Lake Bluff and Lake Forest schools have started using standing desks in classrooms, giving students the opportunity to literally think on their feet.

The desks can currently be found in classrooms at Lake Bluff Elementary School, Lake Bluff Middle School, Everett Elementary, Cherokee Elementary, Sheridan Elementary, and Deer Path Middle School.

Standing desks are believed to help increase focus and engagement in the classroom. And while they’re particularly valuable for students with learning disabilities, all students can benefit from their use.

“Standing desks benefit all students, not just those with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD), or sensory integration needs,” said Sue Barkhausen, Learning Resource Teacher at Everett Elementary School, which has 12 standing desks. “Current research supports the fact that students who use standing desks exhibit increased on-task behavior, alertness, and attentiveness during academic instruction.”

Amanda Willey, a third grade teacher at Lake Bluff Elementary School, where all classrooms for grades 2 through 5 have two desks apiece, has witnessed the benefits firsthand.

“Stand-up desks have been a great addition to my classroom,” said Willey. “They help students focus and stay engaged in their learning.”

In addition to increasing focus and alertness, standing desks provide an outlet for all that youthful, excess energy by allowing students to fidget freely, without disrupting others, thanks to a moveable footrest positioned across the bottom.

“The ‘fidget bar,’ or pendulum swinging footrest, allows students who benefit from movement the ability to move in a way that still allows them access to the materials they need and the learning they are eager to do,” said Barkhausen.

The desks also provide teachers with different classroom instruction opportunities, whether working with individuals or small groups.

“It isn’t uncommon to see a teacher delivering small group instruction at a standup desk or two standup desks pushed together,” said Nathan Blackmer, principal, Lake Bluff Middle School. “The advantage is that students can more easily see the demonstration and everyone is at the same level instead of the teacher bending over the students or vise versa.”

Desks equipped with the movement bar and storage cost approximately $230 apiece. Grants courtesy of the non-profit Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Learning Differences Association (LDA) have paid for many of the schools’ standing desks.

“We originally submitted a grant to the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Learning Differences Association (LDA) for the purchase of eight desks,” said Roehrick. “We placed two desks in four different classrooms in order to determine if they were a useful tool for learning. We received positive feedback from teachers and students regarding the desks, so we requested another grant the next school year through the LDA, which was approved.”

Lake Bluff Middle School’s standing desk pilot program was so successful, said Blackmer, the school decided to purchase two desks for every academic classroom within the building.

“They turned out to be a huge hit with some of our students who benefit from opportunity to stand or move around a little as they learn,” said Blackmer.

Argyles of Lake Forest Closing; Shoppers Can Score a Tuxedo for $125


argyles joseph costanza edited

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

After 20 years in business, Argyles, a men’s apparel store in Lake Forest, will close its doors at the end of April.

Owner Joseph Costanza was born in Italy and began apprenticing as a tailor at the age of 12. He spent eight years learning to become a tailor, and graduated from his trade school in 1965. The following year he moved to New York for “a few months” and never went back. Instead, he opened a tailoring shop in 1968. He eventually relocated to Illinois, and opened Argyles in 1994.

Now 68-years-old, Costanza says it is time for a change.

“As much as I love coming to work, I need time to do other things,” he said.

Among those other things is a planned trip in May to Italy, where he still maintains a home. He’s also contemplating spending time in warmer locales, such as Florida or Arizona.

To clear out inventory and to thank his longtime customers, Costanza has put everything in the shop on sale. Gents looking for a new blazer or slacks can expect to find 30 to 70 percent off.

But the best deal is on tuxedo rentals. Guys who rent a tuxedo for $125 (the rental includes shirt, pants, bow tie and cummerbund) get to keep the suit. For an additional $35, they can purchase a vest and tie, which they also get to keep. Costanza currently has six different tuxedo styles in stock, mostly from designer Pierre Cardin, and two different styles in tails, and has sizes ranging from boy’s size four to men’s 56 long.

Arygles is located at 950 N. Western Ave., Lake Forest. 847-295-0200.

A Fresh Start for Graffiti Grill in Lake Bluff


Kenny Karnazes and his daughter Jennifer Karnazes-Hernandez.


By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

Graffiti Grill has a new menu, a new team running the kitchen (though they’re hardly strangers to Lake Bluff), a new attitude, and, soon, a new name.

Dan Rogers opened the casual dining restaurant in 2011 on the site of his family’s former retail garden store, Rogers Nursery, on Rte. 176. Rogers, a grilling enthusiast and a regular competitor at Lake Bluff’s annual Ribfest, had no prior restaurant experience, but felt the area “really needed something like Graffiti Grill.”

“We felt there wasn’t a place that really did good food fast,” said Rogers. “And we thought it was a good location and something fun that people would enjoy.”

With a few years under his belt, Rogers decided it was time for a change. So he partnered with Kenny Karnazes at the beginning of the year to revamp the restaurant’s kitchen and menu.

“I needed someone who could handle the food,” said Rogers. “Kenny took everything we had and said, this isn’t going to work; this will work. He took our BBQ and turned the dial up a notch. The food’s better than when we opened because we have a guy with 40 years’ food experience running the kitchen.”

From left to right: The Texas BBQ burger, southwest salad, and Cubano melt.

From left to right: the Texas BBQ burger, southwest salad, and Cubano melt.

Indeed, Karnazes has been working in restaurant kitchens since he was a teenager. He got his start as a chef at Scranton Cafe, which was owned by his father. The family later sold the restaurant, only to buy it back in 1988, renaming it Bluffington’s. Karnazes eventually left Bluffington’s (it’s now owned by his brother Doug) to start his own catering business and oversee the food operations at The Village Grill at The Lake Bluff Golf Course, a venture he left in Dec. 2013.

“The challenge for me is that [Graffiti Grill] didn’t have the greatest reputation,” said Karnazes. “We’re tweaking the restaurant from the kitchen forward. I changed almost every product. The quality wasn’t there before. That’s what I’m bringing in.”

Like Karnazes’ other restaurants, this, too, is a family affair. His daughter, Jennifer Karnazes-Hernandez, a former executive chef at The Vine in Grayslake, is working alongside him, tweaking the menu and overseeing the eatery’s catering operations.

Their different approaches to food—Karnazes-Hernandez jokingly refers to her father’s dishes as “80s comfort food” while describing her style as “fun, frilly, and girly”—have resulted in a menu highlighted by tried-and-true classics given a fresh twist. The Village Club, for example, has the standard club ingredients—roasted turkey, avocado, tomato, lettuce, and applewood smoked bacon—livened up with a red pepper pesto mayo.

The southwest salad.

The southwest salad.

The revamped menu also includes a few items that have what Karnazes calls the “awe factor.” Take the Cubano melt—a toasted roll smeared with whole-grain mustard topped with pulled pork, a heaping portion of honey ham, melted Swiss cheese, and spicy pickle slices. Also awe-inspiring, if just for its football-size girth, is the Texas BBQ burger, a Black Angus burger smothered in the Grill’s homemade BBQ pulled pork, melted cheddar, and creamy coleslaw.

Just about everything is now made in-house, including the daily soups and barbecue, which is slow roasted and grilled on-site.

“We’re a great alternative to fast food,” said Karnazes-Hernandez. “It’s fresh, it’s fast, and nothing’s processed.”

Friday’s fish fry remains, though that menu has also been revamped to include a grilled option, as well as a pasta dish for those who don’t like fish. Saturday nights are steak nights. “We’d love to see couples come out for dinner,” said Karnazes.

Graffiti Grill serves wine and beer, including brews from Lake Bluff Brewing Company and Revolution Brewing. On Saturday mornings, Karnazes-Hernandez has been serving mimosas and towering Bloody Marys. The hope is to expand the cocktail offerings as the temperatures warm up. In addition, they plan to build a gazebo out front so that, come summer, customers can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.

And there are more changes coming soon: They plan to add weekday evening hours starting in April. They’re also hoping to give the revitalized restaurant a new moniker. In fact, they’re looking for suggestions. If you have an inspired name idea for the restaurant, you can post your suggestion on the Grill’s Facebook page.

Heinen’s Finalizes Lease For Lake Bluff Store

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

It’s a done deal: Heinen’s Fine Foods will indeed open in Lake Bluff. According to Jeff Heinen, Heinen’s co-president, the lease paperwork was finalized on Tues., Feb. 25.

The Lake Bluff store will be the company’s fourth Illinois location: It currently has a store in Barrington, with a second store set to open in Glenview in May. The third store, in Bannockburn, also will replace a shuttered Dominick’s location. The opening date for that store, said Heinen, has yet to be determined, as some renovation work will be required.

As for the Lake Bluff store, Heinen stated that it will be, “months, not weeks,” before it opens.

“We need to do pretty extensive renovations,” said Heinen, “so we’re working through the timing of that now. We operate very differently than Dominick’s, with a lot more prepared food, which requires more facilities.”

The Lake Bluff store will create about 80 to 100 new jobs, said Heinen, and about the same number of positions will need to be filled in Bannockburn. According to Heinen, former Dominick’s employees are welcome to apply at Heinen’s; in fact, several have already been hired.

“We already have about 20 [former Dominick’s employees] working in Cleveland as we speak,” he said. “They’re here temporarily training. We believe heavily in the training and development of our associates. The expenditure, we think, is well worth the money.”

For those not familiar with the Cleveland, OH-based chain, shoppers can expect an emphasis on product and service, he said.

“We own our distribution, which is unique for a company of our size, so we can spend a lot of time and energy on the sources of our food,” he said. “We know the people who grow it, where it comes from. We know the sources of our beef, poultry, and pork. We can tell people where it was raised and how. So the sourcing of products and the levels of service are two things that are really different than what most grocers focus on.”

Lake Bluff Police Chief David Belmonte Officially Sworn Into Office

By Jenny Quill, GazeboNews contributing writer
Photo submitted by Marc Colbert


David Belmonte, Lake Bluff’s new police chief, was officially sworn in at the Village Board meeting on Mon., Feb. 24. It was a full house at Village Hall, as Brenda Belmonte, David’s wife, pinned the new chief.

Belmonte, a 24-year veteran of the Lake Bluff Police Department, takes over on March 1. He replaces retiring Police Chief William Gallagher.

Heinen’s Fine Foods Said To Be Opening in Lake Bluff

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

Rumors have been swirling since December, but now there’s news as to what will become of the former Dominick’s grocery store in Lake Bluff: According to this article, Heinen’s Fine Foods, a Cleveland, OH-based grocer, will take over the lease on Monday.

Heinen’s, which began as a small butcher shop in Cleveland in 1929, is currently managed by Co-Presidents Jeff and Tom Heinen, the twin grandsons of store founder Joe Heinen. The fine foods chain operates 17 stores in Ohio, with another set to open in downtown Cleveland later this year. Heinen’s currently has just one Illinois location, in Barrington, but will open a new location in Glenview in mid-May, followed by another in Bannockburn in the fall.

Meet David Belmonte, Lake Bluff’s New Police Chief

David Belmonte at the LBPD; photo by Nancy Gusterine of the LBFD.

David Belmonte getting into the drivers seat; photo by Nancy Gusterine of the LBFD.

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

When the Village of Lake Bluff announced its selection for the town’s next police chief, the name was familiar: David Belmonte, a 24-year veteran of the Lake Bluff Police Department who has been deputy chief since 2007. Belmonte and his wife, Brenda, have called Lake Bluff home since 2002, though David has deep roots in the community with his grandparents and parents having lived there. The couple has two kids, Kelly, age 25, and Steven, 19. They currently share their home with two dogs, an Australian Shepard named Tristan and a Chihuahua mix named Nugget, though it’s not unusual for Brenda, owner of Two Paws Up Dog Training and practice manager of West Lake Forest Animal Hospital, to bring home new furry or feathered friends.

GazeboNews caught up with Lake Bluff’s newest top cop to find out what he loves about his job and what his priorities for the department are as he takes the reins.

GN: Why did you want to become a police officer?
Belmonte: Being a police officer was not something I grew up wanting to do. Instead it was something that interested me when I was in college. I started as a Community Service Officer and a dispatcher with the Vernon Hills Police and I knew that was what I wanted to do. The ability to help people, have every day be a different challenge, and the idea that you were doing something that was for the betterment of others was what really drew me in.

GN: Where are you from?
Belmonte: I grew up in Libertyville. I realized Law Enforcement as a career at the College of Lake County and received by Associates in Criminal Justice. I then attended Columbia College of Columbia, MO for my B.A, and Webster University, St. Louis, MO for my M.A.

GN: How did you wind up working in Lake Bluff?
Belmonte: I think when I was growing up and involved in the Cub and Boy Scouts I started taking a great interest in public service. I have always enjoyed working with people and being available to help. Although I started college as a Communications major, I took some law enforcement classes and quickly realized that was something I enjoyed.

When I saw an announcement for police officers in Lake Bluff I jumped at the opportunity. My great-grandparents, my grandparents, and parents had all lived in Lake Bluff, and I knew how unique the town was in the area; I loved the small town feel. When then Chief Fred Day called me and offered me a position, there wasn’t any hesitation. I knew that was where I wanted to work.

GN: What do you love about your job?
Belmonte: The best part about this job is working in Lake Bluff. Too often we may forget what a special place it is with all the conveniences of a metropolitan area, yet the small feel of a New England town and small town Americana. It is really a great place to work, with great people and a truly outstanding group of officers and employees.

GN: From a policing perspective, what has changed since you started with the department 24 years ago?
Belmonte: The basics of providing service hasn’t changed. From the first day I started as a patrol officer we were reminded that we are part of the village, and we are to treat everyone with respect and dignity. That still rings true today, and it is a priority. But other aspects have changed. We never had to deal with computer crimes or identity theft to the degree we do today. They are very difficult crimes, because the offender is rarely in Lake Bluff, but often thousands of miles away in another jurisdiction. And as a police officer we now use computers every day. When I started we had one huge computer in the Police Department that was used to look up license plate information. Now there is a laptop in every squad car and we may be moving soon to the use of tablets for reports.

GN: What are your priorities for the department?
Belmonte: The biggest priority as I said is the professionalism and integrity of our department and services. We are still the smallest department in Illinois that is nationally accredited. We voluntarily have CALEA come in and inspect our operations every three years to ensure we are doing things right. We send our officers to some of the best training. So with that we also want to expand our investigations department to better follow up on in depth cases. At the same time I would like to see us enhance our interaction with the residents, especially in the schools and community events.

GN: What are the department’s challenges?
Belmonte: We are in the process of planning the transition of our dispatch operations to a centralized facility. We want to be sure we still provide the community the same level of service we always have at the most efficient value. At the same we will need to develop our records department to fill those duties which we previously done by our dispatchers.

GN: What crime trends are currently on your radar?
Belmonte: All of them! Overall, Lake Bluff is a very safe community. But bad things can happen anywhere. And no matter how small a crime may be, it is a big deal to the person it happens to. We task our officers to be proactive and try to prevent crime by looking for those small things that provide an opportunity, such as unlocked cars, open garage doors, or even scams we may become aware of. If we can make people aware of these issues, hopefully we can avoid some of the preventable crimes that may occur.

GN: ANything else you want to add?
Belmonte: I’ve been fortunate that the department has invested so much faith in me, to allow we to gain the experience and training I’ve had. From giving me time to earn my degrees, to allowing me to attend the FBI National Academy, along with working with the community groups has been great. I feel this is my opportunity to give Lake Bluff a return on their investment in me.

Update: Building’s for Sale, but Lovell’s of Lake Forest Open for Business

By Jenny Quill, contributing writer

Editor’s note: This article has been updated. The original article appears at the bottom of this page.

GazeboNews on Feb. 19 spoke with Susan Lovell, who wanted to clear up any confusion regarding the sale of her family’s restaurant, Lovell’s of Lake Forest.

Lovell wished to reiterate that the building that houses Lovell’s is for sale, not the restaurant, and that the family will continue to run the restaurant until a buyer is found. According to Lovell, a buyer has not yet stepped forward.

“We’re not closing any door until we have a sale or definitive date,” said Lovell. “Right now, everyone thinks we’re walking out, but we’re not. We really enjoy serving the community, they’re our friends, and we’d never let any of them hang.”

The restaurant will continue taking reservations as long as the doors are open. Should the building sell, Lovell promises to give customers and the community as much notice as possible, so that long-standing reservations and gift cards can be honored. But, she emphasizes, there is no buyer, and it may a month or a year before the building sells. And even if the building does sell, the hope is that the new buyer will continue to run the restaurant.

“Our intention is not to leave customers hanging,” said Lovell. “I know Dad [former NASA astronaut Jim Lovell] would love to see the restaurant go on.”

The Lovell family has decided to sell the property that has been home to their eponymous restaurant, Lovell’s of Lake Forest, since 1999.

Family patriarch Jim Lovell, the former NASA astronaut, and his four children, including Executive Chef Jay Lovell, jointly own the property (Jim Lovell, a general partner, maintains a one-percent stake). According to Jim Lovell, the decision to sell was made with the family’s best interests at heart.

“Because I’m getting older, and they’re all spread out, and Jay, who runs the restaurant is getting older, too, they decided to … feel around to see if there is an interest in the property,” said Lovell.

Ideally, the family would like to find a local buyer or group of buyers interested in continuing to run the restaurant and maintain it as a local landmark.

“The family hates to see the restaurant go,” said Lovell. “The staff has been here for 14 years now and we have a nice clientele that keeps coming in. We’d like to see someone come in and take the property and take care of the restaurant.”

According to Lovell, his son, Jay, is willing to stay on to facilitate the transition.

That said, the Lovell family recognizes that the property’s location is a prominent one, and they’re not opposed to selling to other business ventures.

Selling Lovell’s would lighten the workload for Jay Lovell, who is in the process of building out a new restaurant in Highwood. The new eatery, called Jay Lovell’s, is being billed as a smaller, more casual establishment specializing in southern-style comfort food. While an exact opening date has not yet been set, it’s anticipated that Jay Lovell’s will open in the first quarter of 2014.

Update: Lake Bluff, Lake Forest Moving Toward Emergency Services Consolidation

By Jenny Quill, GazeboNews reporter

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include new information. The original story was published on Jan. 24, 2014.

The Lake Bluff Village Board passed a resolution at its regular meeting on Mon., Jan. 27 directing Village staff to draft a contract to consolidate the Village’s emergency dispatch services with the Village of Glenview.

Lake Bluff’s vote comes one week after the Lake Forest City Council passed a similar resolution.

To view the meeting agenda and related documents, click here.



The Lake Forest City Council passed a resolution at its regular meeting on Jan. 21 to draft a contract to consolidate the City’s emergency dispatch services with the Village of Glenview. (Click below to view the Council meeting video.) Lake Forest and Lake Bluff are hoping to save between  $1.9 million and $1.4 respectively by merging 9-1-1 emergency dispatch services with Glenview.

The Village of Lake Bluff will vote on a similar resolution at its Board meeting on Mon., Jan. 27. Click here to view that agenda and other informational documents.

The resolutions direct the city managers and attorneys to work together to negotiate a contract for services with the Village of Glenview. Once drafted, the contract will be brought back to the communities’ respective governing boards for final consideration. According to Lake Bluff Village Administrator Drew Irvin, that could happen as soon as 60 days after Monday’s meeting, should Lake Bluff’s Board approve the resolution.

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, along with Highland Park, began exploring the idea of consolidating 9-1-1 and emergency dispatch services in 2010 when the towns participated in a joint fire-EMS-shared-services study.

The communities then hired Matrix Consulting Group to study the feasibility of consolidating dispatch services. In Sept. 2013, Matrix submitted its preliminary findings, and made its final recommendation at a joint meeting on Dec. 17, 2013.

The recommendation proposes that the three communities consolidate their dispatch operations through the Village of Glenview, which currently provides dispatch services for Grayslake, Hainesville, Morton Grove, and Niles, with a back-up facility located in the Public Safety Building at the City of Highland Park.

Consolidating dispatch services is being touted as a big money saver. Lake Bluff projects savings of approximately $1.4 million over five years, while Lake Forest is banking on savings of $1.9 million in capital and operational costs over the same period. Those figures factor in an annual operating charge of $528,000 and a one-time capital cost (for new equipment or upgrades for the consolidated facility) of $444,000.

Some of those operational cost savings stem from a reduction in personnel. A total of 12 new dispatchers will be hired as Glenview employees, with some being assigned to the Highland Park facility. Currently, Lake Bluff employs five dispatchers; Lake Forest employs nine. Those employees would be given the opportunity toBoth towns plan to hire two support staffers to cover various ancillary duties—record keeping, etc.—that the dispatch staff now manages.

Some of those operational cost savings stem from a reduction in personnel of five dispatchers in Lake Bluff and nine in lake Forest . A total of 12 new dispatchers will be hired as Glenview employees, with some being assigned to the Highland Park facility. Lake Bluff and Lake Forest dispatchers would be given the opportunity to  test and interview for the new positions. Additionally both towns plan to hire two support staffers to cover various ancillary duties—record keeping, etc.—that the dispatch staff now manages.

In addition to cost savings, the other benefit highlighted by the plan’s proponents is the creation of a fully operational back-up facility in Highland Park.

“We will have the first redundant 24/7 operating central dispatch system anywhere in the State of Illinois,” said Lake Forest City Manager Bob Kiely at the City Council meeting.

The proposal isn’t without its detractors. Much of the concern voiced at the recent City Council meeting focused on Glenview’s ability to maintain response times and provide the same level of service as the towns’ current dispatchers.

“I’m all for continuing the conversation and continuing to examine this, but I do have some real reservations,” said Alderman Catherine Waldeck. “We have a system that works extremely well, and it’s difficult for me when we have something that works as well as it does to talk about changing it. I’m all for saving money, I think saving money is great, and we could save a lot of money. But this is one of those areas where we don’t want to drop off in our service even a little bit because even a little bit is material. When grandma picks up the phone because grandpa is having a heart attack, and literally five seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds is a matter of life and death, it’s one of those areas that we can’t afford to compromise at all … Is the person in Glenview going to know our streets and our city as well as those dispatchers that we have now? And we’re talking where seconds make a difference?”

According to Lake Bluff Deputy Chief of Police David Belmonte, the hope is that several of the current Lake Bluff/Lake Forest dispatchers will apply and be hired by Glenview to help bridge that knowledge gap.  Additionally, said Belmonte, Glenview’s training requires  dispatchers to participate in ride-alongs with local officers to learn the streets and locations. New technology should also help provide a more seamless transition.

“With current technology, such as GPS and mapping programs, today’s dispatchers can readily access street and location information electronically that years ago was not possible,” said Belmonte.  “With the use of Computer Aided Dispatch Systems, both our officers and dispatchers will have access to information immediately, not just within Lake Bluff, but also shared with the other departments.”

Response times are not predicted to slow, said Belmonte, as calls will be routed the same way they are today.

The consolidated services contract, which is a “working document and is not finalized,” said Irvin, would likely be a five-year agreement with “some sort of renewable clause in there if all of the parties want to keep going.”

Again, information regarding centralized dispatching services can be found on Lake Bluff’s web site, as well as the City of Lake Forest web site.