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Downtown St. Charles loses, gains businesses

ST. CHARLES – A restaurant and longtime retail shop have closed in downtown St. Charles at a time when several new businesses have opened or are about to open.

Dean Courser, the original owner of Vertical Drop Ski and Patio, confirmed Thursday that the store at 116 W. Main St. closed Tuesday – something he knew was coming for six months.

Courser started the business in 1979 between his junior and senior years at Northern Illinois University and sold it in 2005, he said.

“It was a great business,” he said. “It definitely makes me sad. On the other hand, I did sell it.”

Because the store is set up for a ski shop, Courser – who owns the building – would like another outdoor sporting goods store to take Vertical Drop’s place, he said, noting he has reached out to several people.

He said if that doesn’t work, he might consider other options such as subdividing the space.

Meanwhile, Courser said, the space is being remodeled to bring it back to pristine condition.

Michael Mertes, the city’s economic development coordinator, said the shop’s closing creates a challenge and opportunity for the city to lure a new anchor or a couple of new shops to downtown.

A vacancy also has been created a few blocks away on South First Street.

Wild Monk, a gastropub at 51 S. First St., apparently has closed after opening in June in the space formerly occupied by Prasino.

“It’s a vacancy that is at a prime location,” Mertes said.

Attempts to reach Wild Monk personnel by phone and email Thursday were unsuccessful.

Mertes believes the eatery closed in recent weeks, noting businesses aren’t required to notify the city when they close. His efforts to reach Wild Monk ownership haven’t been met, he said.

“We’re always sad to see businesses go,” Mertes said, “but we’re excited for the new businesses that are going to be investing in our community.”

New businesses that recently opened or plan on opening in downtown St. Charles include Forever Yogurt and Biggby Coffee, both at 117 W. Main St.; Cromwell’s, a store featuring upscale antiques and curiosities at 17 N. Second Ave.; Sportiva, a sporting goods store at 113 E. Main St.; and Greenleaf Yoga at 16 N. Riverside Ave., Mertes said.

The opening of new businesses lets the city know a lot of people see downtown St. Charles as a great place to open a shop or restaurant, Mertes said.

In addition to the city, he said, the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau and St. Charles Chamber of Commerce are working to make sure businesses are happy here and can thrive.

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