The Newsletter of Lincoln Central Association
Winner of Five Consecutive APEX Awards for Publication Excellence
March 1, 2021

Hello to all of our LCA Community!
As your new President I want to welcome you to 2021 and a year that I hope we all can focus on Patience, Optimism and Hope. 2020 has tested our resilience. 2021 holds a beacon of hope that we will once again come together physically. It certainly is a time of uncertainty. Our much-loved gatherings — from Spring Zing and Summer Sipper, to our fall events Evening in the Garden and Howler at Bauler — are all put on hold. How can LCA inspire and create connection in this time of so much isolation? We can embrace Patience, Optimism and Hope that we will be together again soon! 

We are all experiencing many personal challenges but, despite this, I have seen a generous outpouring of support in our community. COVID has made us all aware of the importance of human contact. We are witnessing neighbors helping each other dig out from some of the toughest snow days in years; many of you making an extra effort to support our local businesses and restaurants; and families supporting each other in childcare, elderly assistance and remote learning. These and so many other gestures of kindness are the essence of LCA, your Heart of the Neighborhood.  

I like to look for the silver linings when adversity comes. These can be found in family units finding new ways to be together, reconnecting with old friends, and hours of FaceTime and Zoom, which has brought us together as never before. Yes, these are not the replacement for human contact but they have kept us connected!

We want you to know that LCA will always strive to bring us together to share our love of our community and how we can continue to improve it. We may not be able to gather right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be the Heart that keeps beating. 2021 will require us to do so in a different way. We miss seeing all of you in person at our events. I see the silver lining in this too – we will all value the Heart of the Neighborhood even more when we can once again gather and celebrate our shared commitment to the betterment of our community!

Sally Drucker, 2021 LCA President
Virtual Meeting Features LCA Achievements
by Kathy Jordan
First Annual Lincoln Park Alliance Gathering Set for March 22
by Sally Drucker
U.S. House member Mike Quigley and 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith highlighted LCA’s Annual Meeting on January 27. Representative Quigley outlined some of the business of the House and gave a first-person picture of the January 6 riot at the Capital, while Alderman Smith focused on some of the past year’s successes.

2020 LCA President Kelly Smith emceed the virtual meeting and recapped some of the achievements of the year. Governance Chair James Borkman oversaw the election of three new LCA Board members—Larry Sachs, Paul Shea, and Thomas Siracusa. Borkman also led the 2021 LCA Board in selecting new officers: President Sally Drucker, Vice President Erik Heitman, Secretary Nancy Morris, and Treasurer Dave Free. The meeting was attended by LCA members.
Five neighborhood associations have joined together for our first annual Lincoln Park Alliance gathering. The purpose of this alliance is twofold: to educate our community on parks, fire department, crime prevention, elected officials, and business support, and work as an Alliance towards larger issues within Chicago that effect our community. 

The event will be held March 22nd, 6pm via Zoom. It is open to the public and particulars will be sent through an EventBrite invitation soon. You will be asked to comment with questions/concerns which will be responded to by email. The most important questions/concerns will be read and addressed during this event. 

Please join us! 
by Kathy Jordan
If you’re up for a challenge, consider joining one of the LCA 2021 committees, being formed now. These committees and their chairs are:
  • Arts and Culture, Donna Gallery;
  • Communications and Membership, Jill Dale;
  • Community Affairs, Nada Riley;
  • Events, Eudice Fogel;
  • Parks and Beautification, Erik Heitman; and
  • Zoning, Anne Moore. 

Interested? Email Sally Drucker at

Image: Members of LCA's Parks committee gardening at Fire Station Park. Note that this image was taken prior to the pandemic.
And a Win for Preservation in Lincoln Park
by Anne Moore
The landmarking of the historic Halsted-Willow Gateway was a community effort that stretched over seven years. 

In 2013, Golub & Co., Chicago-based developers, proposed a seven-story apartment/retail building on the northwest corner of Halsted Street and Willow Street. Golub’s plans called for the demolition of 1800 N. Halsted St., a four-story brick building that dates to the late 1800’s and is known worldwide as the place where “Chicago Table Magic" was first performed. Today that space is the popular Willow Room restaurant.

Neighborhood opposition led Golub to bow out, and the parcel was sold to Laramar, a national real-estate management firm with a history and commitment to preserving historic buildings. 

Laramar's executives generously agreed to the preservation and landmarking of 1800 N. Halsted St. (The Willow Room) and 1732 N. Halsted St., the (Vinci Restaurant) building at a meeting with Lincoln Central Association, Ranch Triangle Association, Alderman Michele Smith and Landmarks Illinois. 

In 2014, Landmark Illinois placed four historic buildings within the Halsted-Willow intersection on its Most Endangered List. Landmark Illinois worked with Laramar and its Willow Room tenant to ensure that replacement windows and doors were historically correct. 

That was just the start. 

Landmarking is a formal process that requires professional documentation. In 2018, Landmarks Illinois awarded LCA a $2,000 Preservation Heritage Fund Grant to prepare such a document. LCA, Ranch Triangle and Alderman Smith contributed to the cost, as well. We used those funds to employ the late Terry Tatum to create the landmarking document (download the document here).

In late 2020, we learned that the the Commission on Chicago Landmarks would consider the Halsted-Willow Gateway. “Located in Lincoln Park, the designation includes four buildings located at 1732 N. Halsted St., 1727-1733 N. Halsted St., and 1800 N. Halsted St. These buildings are all placed at the intersection of N. Halsted St. and W. Willow St. All buildings are mixed-use structures with ground-floor commercial uses and residential units on the upper floors. They all date back to the 1880s.

The landmark hearing, via Zoom, included statements from a 90-year-old woman who had grown up in the 1800 N. Halsted St. building, where she was forbidden to enter its fourth-floor speakeasy. Others spoke of the enduring use of these 19th century buildings, which have ground-floor restaurants and apartments above. We asked for the preservation of a lively low-rise corner that is a gateway to low-rise residential streets to the east and west. 

In a unanimous vote, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks granted preliminary landmark approval of the Halsted-Willow Gateway in December. City Council is to vote on the commission’s recommendation. 

The late Bob Segal found and took the document’s photographs. Former LCA board member Deirdre Graziano was instrumental throughout this effort.
Cedar Palace Praises Neighborhood for Ongoing Love and Support
by Jill Dale
On a Monday afternoon, the doors of Cedar Palace restaurant on Armitage Avenue are closed, but owner Silvana Saro is busy inside preparing for the week ahead. While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the growth she thought she would see in her second year of business, the community continues to support the family-owned restaurant. 

“This neighborhood means a lot to me. They have supported me during this hard time, and I am thankful to all of you. I do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe, and at the same time make sure you enjoy yourselves at our restaurant. Honest to god, this is the best neighborhood ever,” she said. 

Silvana has found her passion feeding the community traditional Lebanese food, but her journey to Cedar Palace wasn’t one of a traditional restaurant owner. 

Silvana was born and raised in northern Syria. In 1995, Peter Saro was in Syria visiting family, and saw Silvana on her balcony. Soon after, he pursued her hand in marriage. He was originally from Lebanon but moved to the U.S. when he was young, so after they married Silvana joined him in Chicago. New to the country and the language, and far from family, Silvana focused on educating herself. She enrolled in school to learn English. 

“When I came to this country it was hard for me because I love to talk and socialize. I really needed to do a lot of work because I didn’t speak any English. I had to start from zero,” she said. “I graduated as a teacher in Syria, but I came here and didn’t even know how to read English.”

To practice her English, she took jobs in grocery stores, as a cashier at a gas station and worked at the courthouse. She worked for the Sheriff’s Department for nine years, until she learned that her youngest child had a heart condition. She decided to quit her job to take care of him. This inspired her to go to nursing school.

“I wanted to do something to help him, help other children and help others,” she said. “I love to help other people and be there for them.”
Silvana began nursing school. She again started from zero, taking college pre-requisite classes and becoming a certified nurses assistant. When she had just a year left to earn her nursing degree, her family was presented with the opportunity to open a restaurant. 

While this is not something that Silvana thought that she would ever do, she did have experience in the industry. Her grandparents owned a restaurant, so Silvana’s holidays were spent working in the kitchen.

“I grew up in a chef’s family. Since I was nine years old my mom used to send me to help my grandma every summer. No vacation for us, we had to go to work,” she said. “We learned a lot from there – how to multitask, how to clean vegetables, how to chop and how to shop.”

She called on her uncle, a chef in Los Angeles, to help her open Cedar Palace. 

“For a month and a half, he was with me every single day in the kitchen,” said Silvana. “We got all of the recipes from my grandmother and my grandfather.” 

In the summer of 2018, Silvana opened Cedar Palace on Armitage. The restaurant offers a comfortable atmosphere and traditional homemade Lebanese food. 
Then, just as Cedar Palace was gaining momentum, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Because Silvana has a son with a heart condition, she closed the doors for three weeks to protect the health of her family and her employees.

“We are a family business, so I didn’t want to put any of my workers at risk,” she said. “When we re-opened, I didn’t force my employees to come back. If they wanted to work, I had a job open for them.”

Throughout the closure and as they navigate COVID-19, Silvana praises the support of the neighborhood and Lincoln Central Association (LCA) for keeping her going. 

“My focus is growing the businesses and LCA’s help has been wonderful. LCA has been so supportive, it’s been amazing,” said Silvana. “We have the best neighbors. All the neighbors show me love, care and support. They order food because they want to support me.”

“I am just happy and smiling that I still have people walking through this door, and that they are ordering. There are slow days, but I appreciate everything. That keeps me going,” she added.

Cedar Palace is located at 655 W. Armitage Ave. They are open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon – 9 p.m.

Photo 1: Cedar Palace's patio. Courtesy of Cedar Palace.
Photo 2: Silvana Saro (right) working in the garden at Fire Station Park with Sally Drucker (left).
Photo 3: Silvana Saro serving food at LCA's 2019 Spring Zing event.
March 5, 8 - 9 p.m.: First Friday Online Open Mic Series with Victory Gardens Theater. Learn more.

March 7, 8 - 9 p.m.: Virtual Comedy Show with The Second City and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Learn more.

March 8, 7 - 9 p.m.: LPCC + OTMRA Trivia Night. Learn more.

March 13, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.: Curiosity Club: Fantastic Fossils and More with Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Learn more.

March 17, 9 - 10 a.m.: Coffee & Commerce With SBAC, Lincoln Park & Lakeview Roscoe Village Chambers (Virtual). Learn more.

March 21, 10 - 11 a.m.: Live Virtual Zoo Tours by Lincoln Park Zoo. Learn more.

March 24, 4 - 5 p.m.: Curiosity Club: Sensational Snakes with Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Learn more.

Do you have a local event that you would like us to share? Email us at
From the Heart is an award-winning newsletter published by Lincoln Central Association. We welcome your feedback and story ideas.

LCA has received at least one APEX Award for Publication Excellence in each of the last five years and a total of eighteen since 2016. Additionally, From the Heart is the recipient of four consecutive Constant Contact All-Star.

Winner of Five Consecutive APEX Awards for Publication Excellence
Winner of Four Consecutive Constant Contact All-Star Awards