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A New Leaf
1645 & 1818 N. Wells St., Old Town
With three locations and a newly minted event space—boasting two levels of exposed brick and a courtyard—A New Leaf is a pretty sizable operation with a boutique-y, refreshingly approachable sensibility, which is good since special occasion and wedding florals are their jam. In fact, we asked them to beautify a number of Chicago goop pop-related events. And while they happily take phone orders, we suggest stopping by the Old Town flagship in person to DIY a bouquet from a garden’s worth of cut flowers and color-coordinated ribbon wall. There's also an outpost in the Loop.
A New Leaf
312 S. Dearborn Ave., The Loop
With three locations and a newly minted event space—boasting two levels of exposed brick and a courtyard—A New Leaf is a pretty sizable operation with a boutique-y, refreshingly approachable sensibility, which is good since special occasion and wedding florals are their jam. In fact, we asked them to beautify a number of Chicago goop pop-related events. And while they happily take phone orders, we suggest stopping by the Old Town flagship in person to DIY a bouquet from a garden’s worth of cut flowers and color-coordinated ribbon wall. There are also two outposts in Old Town.
Asrai Garden
1935 W. North Ave., Wicker Park
After picking up a gig at a local florist’s, college dropout Elizabeth Cronin fell hard for the craft and at 23, went out on her own. Over the 15 years she’s been in business, her space evolved into a goth-ish, fairy tale nook for everything from jewelry (Catbird, Ariko, and local Sarah Shikama are just a few standouts) to home décor (Santa Maria Novella candles, Leah Ball pottery) to vintage taxidermy—all deftly mixed with the fresh blooms that started it all.
Boutique Bites
224 N. Ada St., Chicago
Elaina Vazquez spent her early years honing her fine-dining skills (her résumé bullet points include the Culinary Institute of America as well as the kitchen of Joel Robuchon). But a strong entrepreneurial streak and a familial pull to Chicago took over: Boutique Bites was founded in 2008. In the last ten years, Vazquez has built one of the most in-demand catering companies in Chicago. There are few chefs who could pull off a six-course tasting menu (with wine pairings) for a large wedding like Vazquez. The BB team also handles the rentals, setup, staffing, and execution. And for those clients stuck for space, Boutique Bites has recently opened its own event venue—a beautifully restored warehouse in the West Loop neighborhood called Brique.
Brix Catering
312.259.2776
The founder of Brix Catering was a sommelier before he broke off to start his own catering business, which means the bar and the wine pairings here can always hold their own against the well-crafted menus. Scale wise, they'll do everything from a few charcuterie plates to a multi-course, formal dining experience. If your event doesn't call for staffed catering, you can pick up one of their "Brix boxes" a day in advance and throw everything in the oven before your guests arrive (we’ve heard that their Thanksgiving boxes can rival even the best home-made spreads).
Cornell Florist
1645 E 55th St., Hyde Park
Yes, the flowers are the main event, but honestly, half the pleasure of visiting Hyde Park's Cornell Florist is the store itself. In the same location since 1939, the latest owners, Amanda El-Khoury and Steven Lucy, have retained all of the original features of the space, including the antique cash register. Known for their earthy, natural-looking arrangements of foliage and seasonal blooms, El-Khoury and Lucy benefit from a Rolodex of regulars stretching back three decades. Nothing fazes these two, and El-Khoury is especially skilled at walking through a venue and easily dreaming up an original vision—a godsend to indecisive couples. And should this be on your wish list: Cornell Florist also makes especially beautiful flower crowns.
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