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Wicker Park, Energetic At Night, Slow Start In The Mornings

Closed gates and barren streets are the backdrop to the morning scene of Wicker Park, ranked 4th on Forbes list of “America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhood.” With the occasional wandering customer waiting for the any storefront doors to open, Wicker Park remained desolate. For a place known for its busy nightlife, the morning hours are often silent.

Matt Dunnington, 43, lingered around until Buffalo Exchange on North Milwaukee Ave. opened. Dunnington explained that the reason he was waiting around for 15 minutes was due to the unusually late opening hours of the stores in the district.

Local business owner Jeff Linnane, 47, of Filter Café on Milwaukee Avenue said,  “It’s a typical thing of the neighborhood.” Yet customers waiting in line described the situation as not “cool” despite the neighborhood being famous for its “hipness.” A quick look around the neighborhood showed coffee shops to be one of the few businesses open during the morning hours.

Conrad Perez, 29, an employee of a coffee shop off the Damen blue line stop described how people manage in the morning with the few businesses that are open.

“Businesses that are open are open for the people who need them,” Perez said.

While some businesses opt to open at a later time, Hollywood Cleaners, a family owned business since 1947, has opens its doors everyday at 7 a.m.

Owner Phil Luparello, 57, inherited the business from his father-in-law in 1981. Luparello has kept it open in the morning ever since. Being one of the “hippest” neighborhoods in America has worked against Hollywood Cleaners’ customer traffic.

Hollywood Cleaners

During the 1980s, many young white professionals renovated single-family residences. As a result this displaced many of the area’s low-income Hispanic residents.

“When I started working in 1981, there were a lot of Spanish, Black, you know,” Luparello said. “And now it’s a lot of yuppies.”

“I used to be happier before with the Spanish and the Black people because they used to bring us more business.”

Ari Ditkofsky, 29, opens his floral business at 9 a.m. sharp everyday.

“If you’re opening up late, it’s a reflection of your priorities,” Ditkofsky said. “The routine of your store is going to be recognized by consumers. Ditskofsky explained that he didn’t see the harm in businesses opening earlier.

Rita Clark, owner of Myopic Books for two years, opens her shop at 9 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m., seven days a week. Two years ago, Clark changed her store hours from opening at 11 a.m. because of her close proximity to the “L,” realizing that there are people out and about and wanted to be there for them.

Clark explained that due to the vibrant nightlife, stores aren’t opening until a later time, choosing to have late closing hours.

Trevor Conley and Kaitlyn Cubacub contributed reporting.

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