Published Nov. 8, 2012
New Hinsdale stores add to the landscape
Dance academy, kids’ clothing shop and men’s salon widen options for local
By Ken Knutson
Hinsdale Dance Academy & Boutique is one of three new businesses to open their doors in Hinsdale in recent months.
The academy, located at 414 Chestnut St., offers instruction in various styles of dance to students of all ages.
Jennifer Grapes, owner and director, said her school delivers top-notch instruction through nurturing staff.
“I think it’s important that kids receive quality dance training from teachers who are passionate about, not just their art form, but passionate about teaching,” she said.
Grapes, a professional ballerina for 13 years, said ballet is the centerpiece of the studio, but classes are also offered in contemporary, jazz, hip hop, tap and Pilates.
“All the staff are current or former professional dancers,” she said.
Through Grapes’ connections, she’s able to bring in male dancers to give female students a vital dimension.
“We are the only school to offer a weekly pas a deux class, which is ballet partnering,” she said. “It’s very important, because when you go into a ballet company, you’re going to need partnering skills.”
Mommy and Me and other programs cater to the very young, and adults can try the afternoon Ladies Who Lunch strength and stretch class, or Let’s Meet at the Barre, an evening ballet workout.
Photos from Grapes’ professional performances line the walls, a touch she hopes inspires students to keep striving. The studio also features a Harlequin dance floor system — “the Mercedes Benz of dance floors,” according to Grapes — and a boutique that carries Gaynor Minden point shoes, custom leotards and other dancewear items.
Grapes noted that her path could have been much different if her parents had been receptive to her lobbying for piano lessons as a toddler.
“They didn’t want to buy a piano, so they thought it would be less expensive for me to dance,” she said with a smile. “Which it really wasn’t.”
She decided to open her own dance studio after retiring as a professional dancer last February due to injury. She said she finds teaching equally gratifying.
“I’ve always found it very easy to explain to students the mechanics behind dance,” she said. “I find it just as rewarding to watch a child grasp a concept as I do dancing to a full house.”
A Hinsdale resident and acquaintance of Grapes suggested she locate in the village. Grapes thought it was an ideal spot.
“It’s an elite community, and what we’re offering is an elite education,” she said. “We’re excited to be here.”
Kelly Ransom finally decided to give Hinsdale patrons of her Amazing Gracies children’s shop in Barrington what they had been clamoring for.
“We had been asked many times to come out there by different people who visited our store,” she said. “We’re trying it out.”
Amazing Gracies opened in Gateway Square earlier this year, and Ransom said the store’s merchandise reflects her
“I look at childhood as magical. When I’m out buying clothing, I’m thinking, ‘A little girl is going to feel like a princess in this’ or ‘This baby’s going to be so comfortable and feel so good,’ ” she said. “All I do is think about those things.”
Fluffy twirly dresses and French clothing for boys give the store a distinctive character, Ransom said, and most everything has the mark of a mom.
“Almost every line of clothing we carry was created by a mom,” she said. “It’s a mom looking at their child thinking, ‘I’m going to create this.’
Ransom said about 80 percent of their business is girls’ clothing.
The store also sells bows and blankets made by area moms and provides gift wrapping.
She said customers come in with an particular agenda and find more than they bargained for.
“They say, ‘You’re killing me because I can’t leave with just one thing,’ ” she said. “It’s all about the love. They see they unique atmosphere, they feel the love, they feel the magic of being a child.”
Ransom looks forward to more village residents stopping by and feeling that magic.
“I just hope that people in Hinsdale will learn to love it and be glad we’re here,” she said.
Zazu for Men
Sam Segretto said Zazu for Men, 10 Grant Square, is the culmination of decades of encouragement.
“I’ve been in Hinsdale for 35 years, and over the years we have had many female clients ask when we would open a place for men,” he said.
The shop opened last month to give men a more suitable environment for the services traditionally provided at a salon/spa, Segretto said, including manicures, pedicures and massages.
“Men want the same services that women get, but they just don’t like sitting around next to women,” he said.
And many barbershops have not updated their interior to appeal to a younger set.
“There are no men-only facilities like ours in the suburbs,” he said.
The location features ample parking, and appointments aren’t necessary, two features Segretto said are important to men on the go.
“Men do like quicker service,” he said. “All the things that a guy wants to make it easy and comfortable, that’s what we’re offering.”
For those who may have time to linger, an 80-inch flatscreen TV will ensure clients don’t miss their weekend game or important news program.
“(The TV) was one of the first things we thought of to include,” Segretto acknowledged.
He said pedicures have become increasingly popular for men engaged in athletic activities. Hair coloring is also available, and shaves will soon be on the menu.
Patrons have started to find Zazu for Men, Segretto said, and he expects it will flourish, especially at $15 for a standard haircut,
“I just hope that Hinsdale would welcome us there the same way that they have at our other location,” he said. “You get the same price haircut (as a barbershop), you can park right in front and the environment is everything that a barbershop is, but more,” he said.
Cine opens to wide audience
Hinsdale’s newest restaurant, Cine Modern Taqueria, debuted last weekend in the old Hinsdale Theater space.
Co-owner Peter Burdi indicated that, if characterized in film terms, the opening was a box-office hit.
“It went really well,” he said, “It got so crowded we were turning people away.”
The upscale Mexican eatery features a menu with familiar favorites and more daring dishes.
Many went for the classics, Burdi said.
“It was very well-received. Both the tacos and the margaritas were a big hit,” he reported. “And the guacamole was a super big hit.”
Burdi, who also co-owns the village’s Il Poggiolo and Nabuki restaurants, said opening night never becomes routine.
“It’s always a surprise because you just don’t know what to expect,” he said. “You think your kitchen’s ready, but when people start coming in the door, it’s a whole different story.
“We handled them very well, I thought,” he said.
Burdi thinks Cine’s cuisine fills a niche in town, and the restaurant certainly fills one of the more prominent locations on First Street.
Using the front of the building instead of just the space accessible off the alley, as previous tenants had done, was a key decision, Burdi noted.
“It’s a lot different than being in the back of the building,” he said. “We’re right where we want to be in terms of exposure.”