West Bucktown WindowBox

Spring 2011
Volume II, Issue 2


Please click here for an important notice about a scheduled Community Meeting on Thursday, April 28th to discuss two proposed developments with zoning changes in West Bucktown. This is your chance to be heard!

In This Issue...
Click on a title to jump directly to the story, or simply scroll down to read the newsletter in its entirety.

Spotlight On: Naveen's Cuisine
They Came, They Hunted, They Cleaned
What's In a Name?
Ask the Alderman: City Stickers
Little Movers and Shakers

Spotlight On: Naveen's Cuisine
Quick…wheIMAGE: Tandoori Chickenn you think about Indian food, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Hot and spicy? Oily and fatty? Difficult to prepare? Loaded with curry powder?

If you’re like much of mainstream America, many of your pre-existing notions probably derive from the typical Indian food buffet – not exactly the cuisine’s finest presentation. Enter West Bucktown resident Naveen Sachar, who walked away from a career as a software consultant last summer to launch his eponymous Naveen’s Cuisine studio kitchen. His mission? To take the fear and complexity out of traditional Indian food, one happy customer at a time.

“There’s this shroud of mystery that often clouds people’s perceptions of Indian food,” Naveen explains. “I want to dispel the myths, demystify the cooking process, and help people appreciate Indian food for what it really is – flavorful, fresh, healthy, and well balanced.”

IMAGE: Naveen Cuisine's KitchenTo this end, the kitchen takes center stage at Naveen’s Cuisine, where customers can don an apron and enjoy a glass of wine as Naveen schools them in the fine art of Indian cooking. It’s not just the “how to’s” that Naveen teaches, but also the basics of good food pairings. Just as you wouldn’t serve pizza, pasta and potatoes at the same meal, Naveen educates his customers on how to combine ingredients and dishes to enhance the flavor and enjoyment of Indian food.

“I cook what I ate as a kid, and what I serve my own family now,” says Naveen, who lives in West Bucktown with his wife, Kristen, and twin boys Kiran and Rowan. His specialty is Northern Indian cuisine, a style rich in dairy products and meat (vs. the more spice-laden dishes of Southern India). His mother was a vegetarian, so Naveen served as her official “meat taster” in the kitchen growing up. One thing led to another, and by the time he was 12, he had prepared his first full meal for the family.

Naveen’s early love of cooking stuck with him over the years. To escape the drab food his college cafeteria served, he outfitted his dorm room with an electric heater, assorted pots and pans, and a pressure cooker. During grad school, he assumed the role of designated chef for four roommates. After entering the corporate world – and at the urging of friends – he started hosting cooking classes and catering parties during the evening and weekend hours. Finally, after some serious soul-searching, he decided to make his hobby his career, and Naveen’s Cuisine was born.

IMAGE: Naveen SacharToday, business is brisk at Naveen Cuisine’s North Avenue location. Weekly hands-on cooking classes offer participants the chance to roll up their sleeves and chop, toss, marinate, stir, serve... and of course, taste!  Once or twice a month, Naveen hosts his Dinner Demonstrations, where groups of 8 to 35 people can gather for a 4-course, fixed-price introduction to Indian food. And every Tuesday, Naveen makes his popular “Grab-and-Go” meals available to customers who pre-order a quick and easy family dinner – just sign up for his weekly newsletter to access his ever-changing menu updates.

A BYOB facility, Naveen’s Cuisine is available for private and group cooking classes, corporate events, catering, and in-home meal service. Always on the lookout for ways to energize people in the kitchen, Naveen is currently considering adding a number of new offerings to his lineup, including lunchtime classes, guest chefs, delivery service, frozen Naan, and a line of kitchen gadgets and cookware.

“Food brings people together,” Naveen insists. “I love creating a fun, relaxed atmosphere where people can feel free to experiment and get excited about preparing a great meal.”

As a special offer for his West Bucktown neighbors, Naveen will take $10 off the cost of a cooking class to anyone who mentions this article. Check out his website or shoot him an email – you will not be disappointed!  (And whatever you do, make sure to ask him about his recipe for Indian meatballs. They are absolutely, positively, ridiculously delicious!)
Naveen’s Cuisine
2325 W. North Ave.

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They Came, They Hunted, They Cleaned
IMAGE: Egg HuntA little rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the pint-sized West Bucktowners who showed up in droves for the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Maplewood Park on Saturday. As grey clouds loomed and temperatures hovered around chilly, dozens of little hands and feet scurried about the park in search of 2,000+ candy-filled eggs. More than 200 prizes were awarded, including two lucky grand prizes winners. Congratulations to Brian Arcos (age 4) and Sierra Ramirez (age 7), both of whom will be receiving brand-new bikes this week courtesy of the WBNA and Maplewood and Lucy Flower Parks Advisory Council.

IMAGE: Clean & GreenDespite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, we were pleased to see so many people stick around after the egg hunt to help clean up Maplewood Park and the surrounding streets. Many thanks to those who braved the elements to plant new bushes and trees (courtesy of Sprout Home and our friends at Commercial Park), clear out dead leaves and underbrush, and pick up trash from our walkways. As the weather becomes decidedly more Spring-like in coming weeks, we encourage everyone to take a trash bag or two to their own block and help spruce up the streets of West Bucktown!

To see pictures from the day's events, click here for the Egg Hunt and here for the Clean & Green. Or just check out this video montage of the activities:

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What's In a Name?
by Rodney Gansho

West Bucktown? Why, there’s no such place as West Bucktown! That’s just some name the real estate industry drummed up to help sell homes west of Western. Isn’t it really just Humboldt Park, or Logan Square…or maybe West Town?”  

IMAGE: Welcome to West VirginiaSound familiar? Have you ever read this online or heard it said in person? Kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? We most certainly do exist, and I always find it strange when others question our validity. I’ve never heard of people in Virginia complaining about the neighboring state of West Virginia – “Hey, who are you trying to fool, that’s not really Virginia.” 

West Bucktown is bordered by Western, North, California, and Armitage. It’s a small neighborhood – only a half-mile square – with a whole lot going on. 

While there is certainly a geographic correctness to our community’s name, we are much more than just the neighborhood to the west of Bucktown. We have our own neighborhood association (the WBNA), with committees that address local issues specific to our area, including zoning and development, safety, the environment, community relations and communications with residents. The WBNA also organizes a broad range of community events every year – from neighborhood clean-ups and restaurant outings, to summer BBQs, holiday parties, and charity drives. Representatives from the WBNA meet regularly with Alderman Joe Moreno, 1st Ward office staff, and the 14th District Police Department to discuss issues affecting our area and advocate on behalf of residents. We even have an Advisory Council for the two parks located in West Bucktown. Maplewood Park enjoyed a complete overhaul in recent years, and a similar rehab is being discussed for Lucy Flower Park, as well.

For you traditionalists out there, we recognize that West Bucktown has only been around on paper for the last 7 to 8 years. And yes, maybe the name was first coined to market properties in the area. But that doesn’t make it any less of a “real” neighborhood. West Bucktown comprises parts of Humboldt Park and Logan Square, but we have our own identity, our own issues, and our own voice. No one in West Bucktown is trying to fool anyone into thinking that the area is anything but West Bucktown. We are proud of our neighborhood, including where we have been, where we are today and where we will be tomorrow.

So the next time someone questions where you live, look 'em straight in the eye and say with pride – “I live in West Bucktown, another one of Chicago’s many great neighborhoods.” 

Rodney has been a West Bucktown resident since 2003 and an active member of the WBNA for many years. He lives with his wife, Diane, and their two children. 

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Ask the Alderman
Last week at City Council, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno introduced the Alternative Fuel City Sticker ordinance that would raise the price of most City Stickers, while lowering the cost of the sticker for environmentally-friendly vehicles.  The WindowBox asked him to clarify his position on the controversial ordinance for us here:

Image: Alderman MorenoNot surprisingly, my office has received a number of emails and phone calls regarding my proposed Alternative Fuel City Sticker ordinance, and I am very grateful for this feedback.  I knew this ordinance would have both proponents and opponents – but it’s this kind of open dialogue and feedback that will help us evolve it into a much better ordinance.
First and foremost, the objective of this ordinance is to forge a path for the City of Chicago to incentivize green practices and ensure that those cars that do more damage to our streets and environment or take up more space pay their fair share. Consider this example…a Hummer 2 is nearly 17 feet long and weighs more than 8,600 pounds, compared to a Honda Civic, which is less than 15 feet long and weighs just 2,700 pounds – only one third the weight of a Hummer 2. Even a Lincoln Navigator is almost 6,000 pounds! 
It has been more than a decade since the city sticker fee structure has been comprehensively changed. Considering the emergence of alternatively fueled vehicles and new data suggesting that larger vehicles are harder on our streets, it makes sense to look at the full fee scale.
We have received some inquiries regarding fees for seniors, and the ordinance is drafted to hold the senior fee at the current rate of $30. We have also had some great suggestions to look at Car Sharing and Diesel fuel to see how they fit into the fee line-up.
Again, I am very open and excited to hear other ideas and perspectives on the ordinance. Constructive comments will enable us to mold this into an ordinance that will be better for all Chicagoans. 

The 1st Ward office is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, and until 8 pm on Tuesdays. You can voice your opinion on the ordinance by emailing  or calling (773) 278-0101. 

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Little Movers and Shakers
Looking for something fun to do with your toddlers this Spring that will get them moving, singing and laughing? Then check out the “Tots in Motion” classes at DanceSpa, located at 1890 N. Milwaukee, just east of Western. 

IMAGE: Tots in Motion ClassWest Bucktown resident, mommy and dance instructor Amanda MacDonald teaches the classes, which include a combination of singing, dancing, games, and story time. The classes are designed to be developmentally appropriate – some exercises are repeated each week, with new ones regularly added to the mix. 

A former musical theater actress in New York City, Amanda taught dance and movement classes at a number of prominent schools, including The Ailey School, The 92nd Street Y's Harkness Dance Center, The American Academy of Dramatic Art, and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She moved to Chicago in 2008 to marry her husband, Dan, who was already a West Bucktown resident. She is now a teaching artist with the Joffrey Ballet here in Chicago. 

“After our daughter Mattie was born, it seemed only natural to combine my love of music and dance with my newfound mommy-hood,” says Amanda. “I also sing and play guitar, so when DanceSpa owner Christa South was looking for an experienced instructor to teach kid’s classes, it was a great fit. We are so happy to have found each other!”

IMAGE: DanceSpa Logo"Tots in Motion" (for children 12 - 30 months and their caregivers) is currently in session every Wednesday at 10:15 am. As a special offer for West Bucktown residents, mention this article and you can get 5 classes for the price of 4 for the remainder of the spring session (April 27 to May 25). Drop-ins are always welcome, and infant siblings in bucket carriers can attend free of charge.  The summer session will begin in June with a free trial class. 

"I'd also like to expand the classes for children in response to the needs of neighborhood families," Amanda added.  "Interested in a princess class for girls?  Shoot me an email.  Have a bunch of rowdy boys who could use an active all-boys class? Let me know. Have a preschooler stomping on your floor? Request a tap class for her and her friends!  It only takes 5 children to start a class, so if you and your friends want to get together, we can work it out!"
The next issue of the WindowBox is tentatively scheduled for distribution in June/July. 
If you have a story idea or would like to contribute an article, please email us at


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