ELBURN – Annette Theobald said it has been a little more than 10 years since she and her husband, Dick, opened Paisano’s Pizza and Grill, a carryout and delivery place that has established itself in Elburn’s downtown area on Route 47.
The Theobalds opened the business after moving to Kaneville. She said they wanted to run a pizza place that was close, and “we just liked the small town, where everybody kind of knows everybody.” They liked the experience so much that they opened a sit-down restaurant, Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill, last year, across the street from the Paisano’s site.
Now, Annette Theobald is part of an organization tasked with helping promote existing businesses in the village and attracting newcomers. She is among the seven members on the Elburn Economic Development Commission.
“It’s like your business,” she said of the endeavor. “You want to keep your current customers happy, and you want to attract new business.”
The commission next meets at 9:15 a.m. Friday at Village Hall, 301 E. North St., Elburn.
It was launched last year, meeting for the first time on Nov. 14. The goal is to work to retain current businesses and attract new businesses, which is similar to the goal of the Elburn Chamber of Commerce.
Elburn Village Administrator Erin Willrett said the commission allows members to promote their own businesses, as well as the village and the community as a whole.
She said commission members can walk around businesses with village officials. Also, she said the commission can help potential business owners understand how to deal with zoning requirements and make it “a less intimidating process.”
Village President Dave Anderson began speaking of such a commission as the village neared the process of completing plans to clear the way for Elburn Station, a Shodeen development that potentially could double the size of Elburn’s population. The plan might bring 2,215 new homes to the village over a 20-year period near the Elburn Metra station. Officials spoke of putting such a commission in place before the anticipated growth.
Theobald said she’s heard from residents that they would like a resale shop and a hardware store in the village. She said there is a desire for a coffee shop, and one is slated to open in the spring. Also, she said some say they would like a flower shop. As for improving existing businesses, Theobald said Eddie’s has benefited from a facade improvement grant from the village, which has led to increased visibility. She said business owners can take advantage of such opportunities.
Joe Kryszak is the commission’s chair, through his company, JDW Institutional Paper. However, Kryszak said he’s “99.9 percent retired” and pointed out that he lives just outside of Elburn’s village limits. However, he is heavily involved with the Elburn Lions Club and the Town and Country Public Library, and, of the village, he said, “I like to see the place succeed.”
He referenced a Michael J. Fox movie, “Doc Hollywood,” in which the title character caused damage in the small town of Grady, S.C., and was forced to do community service at a local hospital. Ultimately, he was won over by the town’s charm and was drawn to stay.
“There was a certain thing that drew him to that little town, and that’s the same thing I think Elburn can be,” Kryszak said, adding that festivals such as Elburn Days and the Christmas Stroll are “slices of Americana.”
Kryszak said he would like to see a destination restaurant in the village, and he said the village already has a big attraction – the Metra station. He said because it’s the Metra stop nearest to Northern Illinois University, there are opportunities to take advantage of that.
“I talked to a civic official in a different area, and he said, ‘Joe, we would kill for a train station,’ ” he said. “We’ve got one in Elburn, and we’ve got to try to make better use of it.”
Ryan Easter, general manager of Bob Jass Chevrolet in Elburn, is another member of the commission. He praised the commission as providing “a very positive outlook” for Elburn’s future growth. He said Bob Jass already does what it can to promote fellow businesses, offering free shuttle rides to local restaurants for customers.
“We’re planting that seed,” Easter said, adding that he’s happy to share feedback received with other local businesses.
The Elburn Economic Development Commission recently approved its vision statement: “The Elburn Economic Development Commission will assist in the attraction, retention, maintenance and revitalization of economic and community growth within the village by assuring opportunities for development and redevelopment, attracting sound, diversified, stable commercial growth and will develop strategies to assist in the preservation and support of existing development.