Business and property owners in the Dr. Hill Arts District showed off their achievements Thursday evening with the third annual edition of West Side Story, a walking tour of the neighborhood.

Nell Funk of Now We're Cookin'

The tour started at one of the area’s newest additions, Now We’re Cookin’, 1601 Payne St., where chef/owner Nell Funk offered free samples of the food treats produced in her cooking classes.

Ms. Funk describes Now We’re Cookin’ as a culinary service center. In addition to classes, it offers commercial kitchen space rentals for small food businesses and a demonstration studio space for food-related corporate and charitable events.

The dining table in the Now We’re Cookin’ demonstration kitchen frames tour guests nibbling on snacks.

The neighborhood, centered along Ashland Avenue and bounded by McCormick Boulevard, Green Bay Road and Simpson Street, traditionally has been home to a range of wholesale businesses, tradesmen and warehouses. Many buildings had gone vacant in recent years until new owners decided the properties could be turned into offices and live-work lofts for creative professionals and artists.

It now has a mix of those new and more traditional business uses.

The tour featured 17 neighborhood businesses, ranging from The Auto Doctor repair shop and custom sign shop Evanston Signs & Graphics to Quiet Light Publishing, which produces fine photographic books and prints, and Great Lakes Art Studio, which produces custom metal fabrications and sculpture for architects and designers.

Studio Manager Kit Paulson uses tongs to shape a glass globe fresh from the kiln at Chaos Glass. 

Another recent addition to the district is the Chaos Glass Studio, in another part of the the 1601 Payne St. building.

Chaos holds an open house from 7 to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of each month and offers a series of classes in glass blowing, hosts glass-blowing demonstrations for private parties and produces custom glass work. 

Snipping off excess molten glass from what soon will be turned into a handle for a glass globe.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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