9 Locals on Living, Eating, and Independent Marketing in Chicago

In celebration of the opening of PsPrint’s Chicago location I wanted to dedicate a post to our current and future local Chicago customers. But, with more than 40 museums, 150 theaters and 6,000 restaurants, nestled within a city of almost 3 million people I wondered how I could really get to know Chicago from a distance. The overwhelming amount of attractions and intricacies that make up the thriving city had me feeling dazed – what did I know about Chicago? Not a whole lot, other than its winter would probably send me crying back to sunny San Francisco (hey there’s always summer – right?).

In search of answers, I thought “Why not interview some intriguing Chicago locals?” Maybe they could shed some light on what’s going down in Chicago and share some of their print and promo tips with our readers at the same time.  Next, I had to find me some locals – and then it dawned on me – some of PsPrint’s customers live smack dab in the middle of Chi-town itself. With a quick search I had found exactly what I was looking for and struck out to interview my line-up of these bold Chicago characters:

Ori Kawa (Music producer and artist)

Heather Styka (Folk singer and songwriter)

Jennifer Moran (CEO & owner of Greenola Fashion Brand)

Miss Alex White (Musician Entrepreneur)

Liz (Owner/manager of Quimby’s Book Store)

Benjamin Capps (Independent film producer)

Dave Cullen (Short film producer and photographer)

Anne Leuck Feldhaus (Artist/painter)

Shannon  (Owner of Little Beans Cafe)

Let’s hear what these nine PsPrint customers had to say about promoting, eating and living in the Windy City …

Best sandwich
Ori: Al’s Beef.
Heather:  A Caprese Panini.
Jennifer: Epic Burger – turkey burger on wheat.
Miss Alex: Is a hotdog a sandwich? Because I love a traditional Chicago-style hot dog.
Liz: Does a falafel sandwich count? That would be Sultan’s Market (on North Avenue), down the street from us.
Benjamin: Ba Le Sandwich – Vietnamese sandwiches and Bao.
Dave: The Southwest at Robey’s Pizza Co. on Damen and Roscoe.  They took it off the menu about a year ago, but they’ll still make it if you ask.  Chicken, bacon, southwest barbecue sauce cooked in a wood oven.  It’ll blow your face clean off your head.
Anne: Not a big sandwich eater — how about salad? Curried chicken salad with candied fennel from Angel Food Bakery.
Shannon: The Ruben on Challah at Frances’ Deli on Clark.

Sultan’s Market on North Avenue (Photo credit: Sarah F. via www.yelp.com)

Best neighborhood
Ori: Logan Square.
Heather:  Lincoln Square is fabulous, to a large degree thanks to the Old Town School of Folk Music and all those little kids in strollers with colorful knitted hats.
Jennifer: Andersonville!
Miss Alex: Arcadia Terrace, tucked between Lincoln Square and Albany Park on the north side!
Liz: I like Roscoe Village.
Benjamin: Pullman Historic District.
Dave: West Lakeview.  Lakeview is kind of a vague large area that seems to swallow up a bunch of smaller neighborhoods, and I happen to live on the Western tip of it.  It’s far enough away from the drunken belligerence of Wrigleyville, and full of people just living day to day.
Anne: Toss up between Lincoln Square and Andersonville.
Shannon: Old Town.

Lincoln Square Theatre (Photo credit: danielmlehman.wordpress.com)

Best restaurant
Ori: Arami Sushi.
Heather: I live in coffee shops, so I love the Bourgeois Pig and Julius Meinl.
Jennifer: Uncommon Ground in Wrigleyville.
Miss Alex: Katsu Sushi on Peterson Avenue for traditional, fresh sashimi and rolls served with a smile.
Liz: Bob San on Division for super good sushi.
Benjamin: Right now my favorite is The Gage.  I also like Russian Tea Time.
Dave: I’ve got one of the worst diets of anybody I know. So when it comes to fancy sit-downs I usually run away screaming, arms flailing. That being said, I love going out to breakfast. There’s a place called Victory’s Banner that I love. It’s a vegetarian place and I’m as carnivorous as they come, but the French toast there is literally “award winning” and the whole place is run by a bunch of people who are big into Indian meditation under this guy named Sri Chinmoy.
Anne: Too difficult to name just one, but I’ll give you Angel Food Bakery again — a fave for lunch and breakfast!
Shannon: Sapori Trattoria.

Arami Sushi (Photo credit: www.grubstreet.com)

Best view
Ori: The Signature Room.
Heather: The view from the edge of Diversey Harbor, looking southeast over the lake.
Jennifer: Driving into the city at night.
Miss Alex: See a panoramic view of Chicago from the 99th floor Signature Room in the Hancock Building!
Liz: Driving South or East on the highway and seeing the skyline.
Benjamin: The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock Building
Dave: Anyone’s roof anywhere.  Roofs provide an exclusive view of the city unattainable anywhere else, by anyone else.
Anne: On a boat on the lakefront at sunset beholding our beautiful city.
Shannon: On the bike path along lakeshore, right where it bends between North Avenue Beach and Oak Beach.

The Signature Room (Photo credit: www.makemusicals.com)

Best place to go on a sunny day
Ori: Millennium Park.
Heather: The Chicago Botanic Gardens!
Jennifer:  Walking down Southport.
Miss Alex: Palmer Square Park to relax in the grass.
Liz: The Asian garden behind the Museum of Science and Industry.
Benjamin: Millennium Park.
Dave: Anybody’s backyard with a grill.  There isn’t an establishment in the world that’ll beat brats and plastic chairs.
Anne: Paddle boarding on the lake.
Shannon: Wrigley Field or a street festival – so many of them in Chicago.

The Great Lawn in Millennium Park (Photo credit: www.iit.edu)

Best place to go on a rainy day
Ori: Kingston Mines.
Heather: A Heather Styka concert? Or the Harold Washington Library.
Jennifer: Cuddled up with my son in our home.
Miss Alex: Garfield Park conservatory is a historic, glass house of plants that transports you to a tropical paradise!
Liz: Why Quimby’s of course! You can spend all day reading crazy zines and comics!
Benjamin: The Art Institute of Chicago.
Dave: Music Box Theatre on Southport and Waveland.  Really cool, really old classy looking theatre that goes well out of their way to show films you’ll never see in a theatre anywhere else in the city, and potentially never see anywhere ever again.
Anne: Lillstreet Art Center.  Visit the gallery, the artist studios, have lunch, then stay and make something!
Shannon: Little Beans Cafe – if you have kids!

Kingston Mines Blues Club (Photo credit: www.uplup.com)

What do you love the most about Chicago?
Ori: Great public transportation 24/7.
Heather: It has everything I could want culturally in terms of art, music and food, but is small enough that I’m constantly running into people I know.  It makes my day when I see friends and acquaintances spontaneously.
Jennifer: It is a vibrant forward-thinking community. There are great neighborhoods, all with their own personalities and treasures.
Miss Alex: The lakefront, the river and alleys.
Liz: There’s always something new to discover, streets I’ve never been down, people I’ve never met. And everybody commiserates about the weather, and in complaining about it we bond.
Benjamin: The diversity of artistic outlets.
Dave: I love how anonymous you can be.  As easy as it is to promote yourself around town, it’s just as easy to blend in and exist as a mass.  I’ve been to a few shows here where I’m one of 75 sweaty people clamoring onto each other and holding desperately to the edge of someone’s drenched T-shirt sleeve screaming the same lyrics as 74 others like a weird human sea anemone. And I don’t say a word to any of them before or after the show, and that’s how I like it.
Anne: The diverse neighborhoods, architecture and culture. It’s been a wonderfully supportive environment to live in as an artist.
Shannon: The water and city – nothing like being on a boat and looking at the beautiful skyline. Plus it’s nice that it’s such a clean city that is easy to get around.

Chicago Street Art (Photo credit: www.chicagoartmagazine.com)

How do you promote yourself, your business or your productions in Chicago?
Ori: Mainly online promotion – message boards, blogs and social media.
Heather:  Social media, blogs, email lists, press, radio, physical printed stuff – the works.
Jennifer: Through our website greenolastyle.com and at our Andersonville Galleria Space. We also do all the wonderful street festivals and reach out to the local universities.
Miss Alex: Mainly via the White Mystery Blog and Facebook.
Liz: Social networking sites, prints, our website, emails and sending press releases.
Benjamin: Via my Facebook page, website, and interconnecting with others in the sci-fi/horror genre.  Kickstarter has drawn much international attention to my film “FILE 13” I also attend and participate in staged readings.
Dave: Stickers are my favorite.  And you’ve helped me there.  If you post up a flyer, somebody will take it down eventually.  If you put up a sticker, well that takes some effort to remove, and usually enough effort to keep it up there permanently.  You can put a sticker almost anywhere, and the more unlikely the place, the more destined it is to be noticed.  That’s the theory, at least.
Anne: Postcard mailings, e-mail newsletters, blog, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter.
Shannon: Community immersion. We target moms so we do a lot of organic promotion with different moms groups. We also sponsor events and use the wonderful flyers we make with PsPrint to share with businesses and pass them out at events, parks, etc.

Do you ever use any printed materials for getting the word out? If so what kind?
Ori: I use business cards to promote my releases, they’re easy to carry and affordable!
Heather: At conferences, I use postcards with all my info.  And in addition to regular business cards, I use business card-sized materials for album download codes.  Also, show posters are a must.
Jennifer: Flyers, coupons and postcards.
Miss Alex: White Mystery makes postcards that double as miniature posters and big business cards!
Liz: Bookmarks and flyers!
Benjamin: As of now, our printed materials are a supplement to those expressing interest in our film projects as well as benefactor rewards.  We also use custom, large printed posters in the set of our film as well as pseudo company logos.
Dave: The stickers I recently printed are my first venture into the world of physical promotion. Past that, I’ve been all over the digital side of things. The work I do is usually video or music based, which lends itself to more digital distribution options like personal websites, vimeo, bandcamp, etc.
Anne: Postcards, business cards, bookmarks, thank-you cards and stickers for the back of my paintings and products.
Shannon: We use postcards, flyers, stickers and business cards!

Any tips for PsPrint’s Chicago customers just getting started with promoting?
Ori: There are lots of great spots to drop flyers and hang posters in Wicker Park. Be careful about posting on public property; there are city fines.
Heather: I used to be pretty shy about talking about my music.  I find it easier to hand someone a small flyer or postcard than to talk about a show, new record, whatever I’m promoting.  It’s better to get something in people’s hands than to scatter promo material everywhere and better to have something physical to give them than to simply talk about it. If the design is eye catching and/or professional looking, people will remember your event and take it more seriously.
Jennifer: Know your audience and target it.
Miss Alex: Experiment with a printed product that visually expresses your brand and message for maximum impact.
Liz: Recruit artists you like to do your promotional materials. That way people who enjoy that artist will be excited to get the printed thing because of the artist, but then also you’re promoting your store or restaurant, venue, etc.
Benjamin: Begin with a website or Facebook fan page and cross post it to similar, established pages.  Use Kickstarter for project funding (mine proved very successful) and offer nice printed materials as incentives to benefactors.
Dave: Do as much on your own as you can. There’s a common misconception that you need a lot of people to do anything worthwhile. Really you just need an incredible amount of commitment. So many people think the “idea” is the hardest part and it’s not.  It’s just the first part.
Anne: Always have your business cards with you and do not hesitate to share them. Have a mailing list sign-up sheet available at any events you participate in.
Shannon: Dig into your local community as much as possible. Chicagoans are loyal to their neighbors and neighboring businesses. Tap into the many event and networking opportunities to promote your business and meet others (many times they will take flyers and do the promoting for you).

All in all it sounds like Chicago has a bit of something for everyone with an awesome and diverse array of interesting residents. I definitely have some ideas now on where to go when I visit – rain or shine! A big thanks goes out to everyone who let me interview them – you guys rock!

(Photo credit: Phillip Kalantzis-Cope)

About the Author:

Paul Smith is the newest addition to PsPrint’s blogging team, filling a new role as content writer after establishing his roots with PsPrint’s Customer Service department. Although new to blogging, Paul is no stranger to writing, having had a crush on words and books for as long as he can remember. With a love for the environment, food and music, Paul can be found after work cooking up a storm of healthy mouth-watering vegan food (yes, it’s possible!), reading an epic sci-fi novel or expanding his quirky eclectic music collection whilst watching a nature documentary! Email him today at paul@psprint.com or follow him on Twitter.

2 Responses to 9 Locals on Living, Eating, and Independent Marketing in Chicago

  1. Jennifer Moline May 10, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    The majority of tweeters agree that Al’sItalian Beef is tops in Chicago, with shout-outs for Portillo’s, Johnnie’s, Roma’s, Mr. Beef, Novi’s Beef and Fat Albert’s. Keep the responses comin’!

  2. Christopher Fant May 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Al’s beef is overrated! I mean..they have a good dipped sammy..but best in Chicago?!..I’d have to side with Liz and Sultan’s Market’s falafel….hell….that at least will not put you on the list for contributing to Chicago being in the running for the fattest city in the Continental US! You’ve seen Al haven’t you!! @christopherfant

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