Women are the pillars of Lake County. This HERstory month, we highlight those entrepreneurs, makers and creative minds that have inspired women from Lake County and beyond.
There are a ton of innovators in our fair land of lakes. The land of lakes has one of the best mom-and-pop shopping scenes. These quintessential, women-owned boutiques and supply shops give Lake County its personality and character.
Women-owned businesses keep Lake County extravagant, from downtown areas to mini-malls, from niche stores to shopping centers. So peruse, why don't you? Celebrate the holiday and support your local shops throughout March and beyond.
This list does not include every black-owned business in Lake County, so if we missed any, let us know so we can add them!
The Long Grove winery produces unique vino grown, harvested and bottled in Paso Robles, California, on Rancho Tierra Rejada. The ranch's translation, land of worked earth, is a 2,500-acre vineyard for this Long Grove establishment. The proprietor Marsha Forsythe and staff run the tasting room in the land of lakes, highlighted by live entertainment, special events, a gift shop and gaming. The Long Grove winery tallied a Daily Herald Readers' Choice "Best of the Best" award nominee.
Donna and Bill Collazo developed the concept and idea for the restaurant after a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. The Collazos opened its doors in 2015. Since its inception, the Gurnee eatery has notched OpenTable Dining Awards in 2015, 2018 and 2019. The Chocolate Sanctuary offers a palate of flavors revolving around the main ingredient: the cocoa bean. A wide range of appetizers, drinks and desserts complements the main courses and entrees. For a large selection of their offerings, chocolate is optional or non-existent for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Angela Xu and her husband Dan opened Dangela’s Dumplings in Libertyville in 2019. The business has since flourished with her handmade dumplings. Xu uses traditional northern Chinese methods and a recipe passed down from her mother to create the delicious dumplings. Tea-boiled eggs, mochi ice cream, edamame, seaweed salad and more also highlight Dangela’s Dumpling menu. In 2022, The Illinois Office of Tourism received state tourism recognition as the newest members of the Illinois Made program.
The Vernon Hills restaurant and pub lives by the credo "fine wine is our native language." Damani-Patel dreamed of owning an establishment like this after traveling the Land of Lincoln and other areas tasting wine. Her passion and desire pushed her to open a unique venue. VLC's newest partner just opened their doors in January 2023 serves international and continental wine and offers a delectable menu featuring brunch and dinner and plates like charcuteries, salads, seafood, steaks and other international cuisines.
Four generations of Glunz’s have operated a business in libations. The Glunz family landed in the states in 1879 and opened a wine, beer and spirit store on Wells and Division Streets in Chicago's Old Town in 1888. In 1992, the third-generation descendants began creating small-batch fortified wines, and the rest is history. The family has a women-owned winery and tasting room in Grayslake and wine country on 20 acres of land in Paso Robles, California, where they grow much of the drinkables. Suzzie Glunz is the proprietor at this Lake County Libation Trail establishment. Descendants from the Glunz family also have run that same shop in Chicago for the last 130 years. The Grayslake/Paso Robles family winery has earned many awards for its offerings.
Experience what happens when you combine gourmet fare with artistic creations by dining at The Gallery Lake Forest. This spot is what happens when you combine creative expression with fine food. The Lake Forest space was established by co-owners, partners and siblings Cecilia Lanyon and Dominic Zumpano in 2015. When you visit The Gallery, you will find that the menu rotates in line with the creative exhibits. The Lake Forest locale changes the art exhibits quarterly and crafts new menus to add a connoisseur's twist to food pairings. Where else can you dine and take in fine art? This combination of sensory elements makes this Lake Forest venue an easy choice when searching for a special night out. Another bonus is that you can book private events at the restaurant, both large and small. In addition, the siblings offer cooking classes for kids, adults and groups.
Do you fancy yourself a pretty good cook or at least good enough that everyone peppers on the praise after a meal? Are you open to learning new techniques and recipes that keep family and guests hungry for another serving? The MainStreet Libertyville establishment, recently opened by Kim and Dan Schlicksup has become a fast staple of the downtown area. When you visit the Joyful Gourmet in Libertyville, you can get all of the above, plus some retail therapy with their hand-picked brands of utensils for sale. The Libertyville kitchen store hosts a fine selection of cooking classes, culinary events, team and family bonding exercises, a wine bar and the occasional meet-and-greet with local chefs. Participating in culinary learning experiences is an exciting way to spend time with people where everyone learns something new about cooking. Plus, there are no dishes to clean afterward. It's like The Joyful Gourmet says, "Discover new items for your kitchen, have a fun night out with friends and grow as a community through cooking."
Anna Rosberg dreamed of owning her own café as far back as she can remember. Anna has a culinary degree and was a pastry chef for 14 years. She decided to pick back up her passion for baking and candies and purchased The Latte Café & Bakery in 2015. Rosberg aims to be THE local café option for residents to indulge in hand-crafted beverages and confections to kick off their day. Be sure to check out the Antioch café's java flights
Lindy’s has been a staple in Lake County for half a century. The Landing is a restaurant and sports bar on Bang’s Lake equipped with two outdoor door decks and a beach area. The story begins with Bob ‘Lindy’ Lindstrom, a Chicagoan passionate about boating. After frequently taking his family to and from Wauconda, Lindy sought to fulfill his dream turning a farmer’s old boathouse into Lindy’s Landing in 1965. The building was initially built in 1908with a small bar, candy counter and two pinball machines. In 2003, Lindy’s daughters Laurie, Cheryl and Bonnie (also the kitchen's co-heads) decided to give the old barn a facelift with a remodel. A Lindstrom has been in charge of this operation for nearly 60 years.
Take a trip back to Long Grove's beloved vintage-inspired yesteryear candy store. The mom-and-pop business features nostalgic candies and hand-spun cotton candy. Ma & Pa's also showcases decade-themed candy crates and scoopable bulk confectioneries. While they provide sentimental sweets, Taylor and her team create their own confections like candy-topped pretzels, sea salt caramels, oreos, pecan patties, dark chocolate, peanut butter cups, marshmallows and more. The Historic Downtown Long Grove shop has served sweet tooth enthusiasts for over a decade.
North Shore Distillery is the first craft distillery in the Land of Lincoln (the first to open in the state since the Prohibition Era). Since 2004, Sonja and Derek Kassebaum (and their larger-than-life friend Ethel) have provided vodkas, rums, gins, absinthes and unique seasonal beverages. The self-proclaimed nerds and Illinois-Made inventors love to experiment with new flavors with a plethora of different ingredients, and that’s why the award-winning Green Oaks distillery designs innovative art with its liquid creations. Sonja was featured in the article "Chemists, Bartenders and British Royalty: Eight Women Who Changed GIn History" by the Wine Enthusiast. Click here to learn more. The Green Oaks distillery was also honored with the Illinois Office of Tourism honor of "Illinois Made" recognizing the state's makers, creators, artisans, artists, family-owned businesses and more. During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, the husband-wife team got their hands wet in the hand sanitizer-making business, providing requests to first responders, health care workers and others providing critical care. Also during the pandemic, In collaboration with Visit Lake County, Sonja created Lake County Sunset Sips. This beverage concoction is as refreshing and beautiful as a Lake County sunset: sweet, fruity, and closes with a crisp finish.
Primo Italian American Cuisine is Lake County’s dining hot spot with five-star ratings across the board, owned by former Mrs. Illinois Nicole Khayat. The Gurnee establishment’s menu includes salads and sandwiches, pasta, seafood, steaks and much more. The Gurnee establishment boasts an array of Daily Herald Reader’s Choice Awards. A wine list of 100+ flavors complements the jam-packed menu. Khayat also owns Lakehouse Lake Villa, Fatmans, Chicago Woodfire Pizza and Biirch Beverages.
Reclaimed Artisans is a place to stop off at if home decor is on that special someone's wishlist or your own. Lisa and Eric Struif have provided beautiful treasures in the Libertyville, Gurnee, Vernon Hills and surrounding areas since 2017. The MainStreet Libertyville business specializes in unique repurposed furnishings, antiques, vintage items, reclaimed and/or painted furniture and more supplied by over 130 local artisans makers.
The farm was originally opened by Robert Richardson who emigrated from England in 1840. Richardson Farm was formerly a pig farm. The original farm stretched 80 acres as Richardson's family raised 3,000 of the swine mammals. Shortly after establishing himself as a pig farmer, Robert Richardson added cows to their thriving livestock farm. Today the brothers George and Robert Richardson (and their wives Wendy and Carol respectively) are the four owners of this renowned farm. Today Wendy, Carol and the two brothers run a renowned tourist attraction equipped with the world's largest corn maze (with cool designs), a Christmas tree farm and they also host a ton of festivities throughout the year like tulip, sunflower and craft beer festivals to name a few.
Arlene Okun established the Sock Monkey Museum in 2019 to share her collection of stuffed toys with the public. Okun accumulated her stuffed primate collection for over 16 years and exhibited her 2000+ monkey army. Okun chose the historic downtown area of Long Grove to complement the vintage spirit of these classic dolls for children. Arlene and her husband use the proceeds from the Sock Monkey Museum to support a primate rescue in the American Pacific Northwest.
The Lake Villa farm is owned and operated by Laura and Elizabeth Heffernan, granddaughters of Steven Jennings and May O'Bryan. The siblings continue to keep the farm and business in the family. Beginning in the early 1930', Steven Jennings and Mae O'Bryan bought several parcels of land and named them after each of their mothers. Susanna Farms closed temporarily in 2014 and reopened in 2019, focusing on equine-assisted activities, small events, camps, and more for year-round fun.
From their sweet home to yours, Sweet Home Gelato is a women-owned and operated dessert franchise based in the Chicagoland area. Janice Bruksch specializes in authentic artisan gelato and sorbet (ranging in a slew of flavors) but also dabbles in shakes, floats, baked treats, pastries and coffee. Across town from the Libertyville location, she and her husband also own a site in Highland Park. However, Bruksch's first location of the ice cream spot (which sounds a little close to "Sweet Home Chicago" for a reason) is in the heart of downtown Naperville, which she opened over a decade ago.
This Lake County farm opened in 1958 when Tempel and Esther Smith imported 20 Lipizzans from Piber, Austria and made the Old Mill Creek Farm venue of the most privately-owned herd of these horses globally. These prestigious horses have participated in Presidential Inaugurals, exhibitions at the White House, U.S. Capitol, the Taste of Chicago, Ravinia, Arlington Racecourse and Madison Square Garden. In addition, the Smith daughters, Linda Smith Buonanno and the late Martha Smith Simpson, in honor of their parent’s dream, organized the first public performances on the Tempel Farms that followed the tradition of Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Martha passed away in 2020.
Treetime Christmas Creations is your quintessential stop for your artificial trees, holiday decorations and more. The Lake Barrington venue was founded in 2011 by proprietor Laurie Kane. Experience the magic and the 'WOW' of the Winter Wonderland Showroom in this Lake Barrington facility. Peruse and shop for the largest selection of pre-lit holiday trees online with unique tree styles.
The Lake County Libation Trail partner Vigneto del Bino Vineyard and Winery offers nine different types of wines at their scenic establishment. The winery sits on one acre of a 10-acre property surrounded by 2,300 grapevines. The Trombino family, led by owner Deb, planted their first vine in 2009 and haven't looked back. The winery resides in Antioch and features exceptional vinos like Bino's BLend (semi-dry red table wine), the Sequoit Red (red table wine), the Kaleidoscope (semi-sweet white table wine) and others. Salud to vino!
As the oldest restaurant/drinking hole in Illinois (and probably in the top 10 in the U.S.), The Village Tavern has been in continuous operation since 1849. In classic roadhouse fashion, this woman-owned restaurant has been a favorite watering hole in Lake County for generations. A spacious dining room and antique bar area preserve the establishment’s rustic authenticity. Especially popular is the massive 35-foot mahogany bar, which survived Chicago’s ‘Great McCormick Place Fire’ in the 1960s. This classic restaurant's warm and friendly ‘pub’ atmosphere attracts locals and tourists alike. There is live entertainment six nights a week. The 19th-century eatery is known for its excellent steaks, half-pound Angus beef hamburgers, hearty sandwiches, broasted chicken and fish fry. You have to try their prime rib as well on Saturday nights. There are so many historical nuggets in this Long Grove mainstay. Watch the video above to learn more.
Wandering Tree Estate was purchased in 1972 by Elaine Silets and her husband. They decided to open their property to host events and gatherings in 1973 and have grown steadily since. Elaine has a natural green thumb, and she changes the plantings around the estate by herself every year. Wandering Tree Estate don the name as such because of a mishap where arborists relocated a neighbor’s timber to a different spot on the Barrington area property. Schedule an appointment to see the property yourself at 830 W. State Rd.
To learn about other mom and pop businesses in the land of lakes, continue here. To view our black-owned business blog, click here. View what else is going on in Lake County by following this link.