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Two Fish closes

The recession hit Madison Street in 2011 as Two Fish Art Glass owners Cecilia (CeCe) Hardacker and Tonya Hart announced in July that they were closing the store that had typified the can-do spirit of the Madison business district. Hardacker and Hart started their new business in Oak Park in 1999 and came to typify the Madison Street entrepreneurial spirit when they moved in 2003 to Forest Park. The women were connectors, “founding mothers” of M2 (Madison Street Merchants). One year, Two Fish and several other small businesses on Madison Street pooled their marketing money and collected $50,000. They used that money to advertise with big media like the Chicago Tribune and Chicago magazine, as well as local publications. The women blamed the flagging housing market, the flagging economy, sales of their products on the Internet and deep discounting for their closing.

Hardware patriarch dies

After celebrating 60 years in the hardware business, Wayne Schauer, owner of Schauer’s Hardware, 7449 Madison St., died at the age of 71 on June 3, 2011.

In the business over 60 years, Schauer began as a young boy helping out at his father’s store on the corner of 63rd Street and Ashland Avenue in the city. Since 1951, the SchauerÊfamily has owned four stores. Forest Park is the only remaining location. The Madison Street store had been the longtime home of Peaslee Hardware, another family-owned business of long standing. In 1997, Schauer bought Peaslee’s.

The store maintained an old-fashioned feel that brought Forest Parkers together while buying paint or searching for a toilet bolt. “He did everything he could for this town,” said Wayne’s son, Rich, who continues to operate the store.

Skrine Chops burns

Skrine Chops, the pork chop emporium at 7230 Madison St., burned overnight on Sept. 2, 2011. Roughly 50 firefighters from six neighboring fire departments fought the flames through the early hours, blocking off Madison Street during Friday morning rush hour. Smoke and ash were evident in the air for hours after the blaze was finally controlled about 8:30 a.m.

A thick tar and gravel roof blocked firefighter access to the second floor, and as the heat increased, roof beams burned and fell, causing brick walls to buckle and collapse. Firefighters standing on the roof of a shuttered antique shop to the west sprayed water for seven hours, according to owner Steve Skrine. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but it began in the back porch, according to Skrine.

Lost was the restaurant’s second floor party room, remodeled to evoke the Wisconsin North Woods with reclaimed wood from Wisconsin antique barns. Also destroyed and damaged were hundreds of taxidermy animals and mounts displayed throughout the restaurant.

Skrine and his employees spent the last quarter of 2011 helping Robert Jahn Construction rebuild the restaurant. The new restaurant will completely comply with all contemporary fire codes, said Skrine. The family hopes to re-open in the spring of 2012.

Grand Appliance and TV eyes Trage Bros. space

The year 2011 ended on Madison Street with new hope for the long-vacant storefront formerly occupied by Trage Bros. appliances. The village announced a pending sale of the property at 7440 Madison St. to Grand Appliance and TV, a multigeneration, family-owned appliance and electronics shop with stores in Wisconsin and throughout the suburbs. Trage Bros. shuttered in July 2009 and the empty building has been a reminder of the ravages of the poor economy on the commercial real estate market. Grand Appliance and TV sells kitchen appliances, washer/dryers, electronics and televisions, mattresses and grills. The new store is expected to provide jobs, real estate and sales taxes and be a “destination for vehicular traffic” that will spill over into the other businesses on Madison Street, said Village Administrator Tim Gillian. Tax incentives approved by the village council will be offered to Grand if it employs up to five Forest Parkers full time.