Three businesses bid adieu to Riverside

Arcade Building's first tenant bows out after a year

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By Bob Uphues

The end of February was unkind to the business community in Riverside. Two businesses in the central business district closed their doors while a third announced it would be closing later in March.

Two of the casualties came on East Quincy Street.

BellaFit, a fitness studio that opened as the first tenant of the restored Arcade Building back in January 2011, did not pick up an option on its lease at the end of February. Business owner Karen Marzec moved her equipment out of the space the weekend of Feb. 25-26.

"The Arcade Building was not the best fit for my business," said Marzec, who is looking for another spot to re-open the fitness studio. "I was excited. What I thought is that I'd be the first of many commercial tenants. But it's proceeding slower than I anticipated."

While a couple of office tenants occupy the second floor of the Arcade Building, the ground-floor commercial spaces have not been filled. A plan for a coffee shop in the space formerly occupied by Grumpy's fell through in January.

Marzec indicated that it was not necessarily a lack of business that caused her to close the Arcade Building space. Foot traffic was fine and the studio was "well-received by the community."

During the summer, BellaFit expanded its offerings to include fitness camps for kids and holiday gift certificates sold well at the end of 2011. Marzec's lease was up at the end of February and she had an option to renew it for another three years, but she chose not to.

"I needed things to be different in the building," said Marzec, who declined to elaborate on what the issues with the building were.

Until she can find another space, Marzec will continue to work privately with clients.

Funky Monkey closing in March

Meanwhile, Claudia Chapulis announced last week that she would be closing her children's resale boutique, Funky Monkey, 39 E. Quincy St., just across the street and a few doors east of the Arcade Building.

The store will be hosting a clearance sale of merchandise until its final day, which Chapulis said would likely be around the third week of March.

"The store was well-loved, but I just can't seem to get people in here," Chapulis said. "There's literally no foot traffic on Quincy, and the car traffic is people trying to get to or from Harlem Avenue. It was a very bad spot for me."

Chapulis instead is putting her efforts into a new estate sale business, called Estate Angels, along with fellow Riverside resident Lori Kumskis. In the meantime, Chapulis said that she'll also add to her collection with an eye on re-opening Funky Monkey with a larger variety of items in the future.

"I definitely want to re-open," Chapulis said.

Florist closes on Burlington Street

Across the railroad tracks at 23 E. Burlington St., Vacha Florist closed its doors at the end of February after a five-year run in Riverside's central business district.

The flower shop moved to Riverside from Lyons, where it had been located since 1999. Vacha Florist has been run by the same family since Frank Vacha's great-grandfather first opened the business on Chicago's Southwest Side in 1887.

According to Pat Vacha, Frank's wife, her husband's health issues have made it tough for him to work. With the store's lease expiring at the end of February, "we thought it was a good time to close up shop."

The Riverside operation consolidated with the store run by the Vachas' son, Donald, in Oak Forest. Donald Vacha has run that location since 1997.

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