Carolynn Maltese had some exciting ideas for her Villa and Farm vintage and home décor business, mainly that she would operate through a string of pop-up operations at various locations after leaving a more permanent location on the east side of Batavia last year.
Carolynn Maltese is setting up her Villa and Farm pop-up shop at 1410 Commons Drive in the Geneva Commons.
- Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
"I was on the east side of Batavia for about three years, and it was wonderful, and I had great landlords," Maltese said. "But with the economy being so tough during COVID, my friends had encouraged me to go with pop-up stores, a couple of months at a time."
That strategy is working well for Villa and Farm, and Maltese is most excited about next month's pop-up, as she will move her wares into a storefront at 1410 Commons Drive in the Geneva Commons.
She plans to open in early April at that location and operate through May. The spot is across from the former Houlihan's restaurant, with plenty of parking.
If things go well, Maltese is not ruling out a return to that spot if it is available during the holidays. Even better, she envisions a more permanent operation at that location or one like it -- once she is confident the economy has its legs underneath it.
"I am so excited to be in there as a small business," Carolynn Maltese says of Geneva Commons, where she is opening a vintage and home decor pop-up shop.
- Brian Hill | Staff Photographer
"Geneva Commons officials have said there are more and more small businesses they are trying to bring in, and they even had a contest for pop-ups, but I missed that," Maltese said. "But I am so excited to be in there as a small business."
In many ways, the mall is seeking to bring small businesses that maybe can't find the perfect spot in area downtowns, especially Geneva, and would like to try the mall setting.
By offering that option in pop-up fashion, the mall addresses the trend of small business owners moving their wares around to different places and different audiences -- whether in an empty storefront or renting a spot in a current business.
Villa and Farm sells vintage and vintage-style furniture and home decor.
- Courtesy of Carolynn Maltese
"They are hoping, through these pop-ups, to have a better presence for different types of small businesses," Maltese said. "I am going to do the pop-up there now and also see how it goes at my other pop-ups the rest of the year, but I am really hoping to maybe come back to Geneva Commons."
Maltese is heading to a huge flea market in Texas next week, and she is hoping to bring back items people have not seen before. According to her Facebook page, Villa and Farm offers home decor, vintage pieces, repurposed furniture, European-inspired and vintage-inspired decor.
"I want to price accordingly because I know that the gas tank is pulling on everyone's wallets, but I want to be able to help them out with the prices in my shop," she added.
She enjoyed her holiday setup at Trend + Relic because of the easy loading and unloading and the ample parking. Those have become key factors for her.
"I will always look for spots with ample parking," she said.
New for the taste buds
With the pandemic easing a bit, restaurant operations are gaining some confidence and deciding to push ahead with some new openings.
Though a lot of information isn't available just yet, we do know that Currito, a national restaurant chain specializing in "salads, greens and grains," is moving into the former Boston Market location in Geneva on the east side of Randall Road at Gleneagle Drive.
Work has been taking place at that site for months, and it is taking shape inside and displaying the Currito color scheme outside.
The national restaurant chain has a location near downtown Naperville and in Elmhurst and Oak Park.
In the same general area, but on the west side of Randall Road at the Shops at Randall Square, the Acuna family has revealed it is planning to open a fine-dining Mexican restaurant called Los Cantaritos at 1772 Randall Road.
This new eatery will find itself in a mini "restaurant row," It will be located next to the JuRin Restaurant and Nancy's Pizza and behind the Panera Bread restaurant.
Another Mexican restaurant getting some good comments on social media from its patrons is Burrito Los Azaderos in St. Charles, under new ownership at 2400 E. Main St.
Folks are raving about the food and the music at this location, which touts a karaoke night on Saturday nights.
Don't worry. I won't show up and start singing and ruin everyone's night. The food, I can handle that. Singing? I think when I came along, they saved the "Cannot Sing" label for me.
Back to 'garage saling'
Another American tradition that took a hit during the pandemic should fare a little better in another month.
The Geneva Chamber of Commerce hopes that's the case as it prepares to host the citywide garage sale the weekend of April 22 and 23, as participants open their garages to potential buyers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Participants can get the "early bird" price of $30 up to Thursday, April 7, to have their address and key items for sale listed on a map to be distributed at various locations in town and also on the chamber website. Any registration after April 7 is $35.
Registration is on the genevachamber.org site, or the form can be printed if payment is by cash or check and returned to the Geneva chamber office at 8 S. Third St. in Geneva. Forms are also available at the chamber office.
Nostalgia for Fabyan estate
After reading my column last month about the empty home in disrepair on the north end of the Fabyan Forest Preserve property by the villa museum in Geneva, reader John McCafferty sent a note that his family had a long history on the Fabyan estate along the Fox River.
In fact, his great grandparents, Albert "Bert" and Ethel Williams, lived in the ranger house on the south side of the property, and his grandmother, Ethylmarie Williams, was the first child born on the estate. Ethylmarie was born in 1916 in an apartment above the large garage on Col. George Fabyan's estate, according to daughter Rosalie McCafferty, John's mother.
"They moved to the house on the south end of the property in about 1920," Rosalie noted.
Bert Williams worked as one of Col. Fabyan's chauffeurs, and, when Col. Fabyan passed, he became the first ranger and caretaker of the property until his retirement in the 1960s.
As for the house on the north end of the property I wrote about, Rosalie said Gunnar Anderson and his family lived there in the 1960s. Anderson eventually had a forest preserve named after him near the county government center.
"An interesting thing is that my mother, Ethylmarie, taught swimming at the pool on the Fabyan property when she was in high school," Rosalie said.
John McCafferty has heard all of this history, including some of the more mysterious aspects.
"Every time my mother and cousins talked to the park ranger who resided in the south house over the years, they were told of stories of smelling pipe tobacco and things being misplaced or moved," John said. "It was believed that this was my great grandfather's ghost."
Loving 'Mom' stories
We said goodbye to our 96-year-old mother last month as Roselyn Heun passed away in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she had lived the past 18 years.
Because of COVID and other factors, we had to put off the memorial service until next month.
Friends and readers of this column mentioned how much they enjoyed my short stories about certain incidents involving my parents over the years.
Our family found humor in almost everything, so I will share this rather ridiculous story.
In helping my parents pack for a move from Colorado to New Mexico around 2004, my Mom decided she would take some things she no longer needed to a charity drive at her church. One was a large, blue suitcase that my father had used in the past.
Mom said he had newer ones and would never notice it missing. So, we dropped it off at the church.
Like part of a silly sitcom, my dad started asking about his blue suitcase a day later. Stunned he would even ask about this, Mom told him he hadn't used it in years, so she donated it.
And at that exact moment, the local news on TV had a segment in which a reporter was at the church, doing a feature spot on the charity drive.
During the interview with the charity organizer, you could see some donated items on the floor in the background. And there it was, in all of its blue glory -- my dad's suitcase.
"There it is, Dad, if you want a last look," I said.
We all got a good laugh, except my dad, who was maybe missing "Ol' Blue" a little bit.