What a difference a mile makes. After operating their Tapas 7235 Restaurant on Madison Street for a number of years, Amy Storey and Mark Calahan purchased the building a mile south, at 7235 W. Roosevelt Road. Their new venture is called Amy’s Wine House. Like its predecessor, the restaurant features Spanish cuisine, fine wines and live music. It is the latest addition to an entertainment row anchored by FitzGerald’s in Berwyn on the east and extending westward into Forest Park.

The Wine House building was the former home of Frank’s Shoe Repair & Skate Shop, where generations of villagers had their heels fixed and skates sharpened. The shop’s original tin ceiling was the only feature that survived the makeover. The couple had to put in new floors, new walls and upgrade the electrical and plumbing. As for the décor, Calahan quipped, “It hadn’t been updated since I Love Lucy.” 

He heard about the property from Realtor Patrick Jacknow. When he first saw the building, “I had to use a lot of vision.” The shop still contained the machines that Frank Pusavc used to repair shoes and sharpen skates. Pusavc died at the age of 86, in 2013 but his presence could still be felt. His small studio apartment was at the rear of the shop and there was a spacious apartment upstairs.

“It has original carved woodwork, smoked mirrors and corked walls,” Storey marveled. Calahan characterized it as “Queen Victoria meets Saturday Night Live.” The couple was pleased to find hardwood flooring under the shag carpeting. Before they could renovate their new living quarters, though, they had to restore the shop. This meant temporarily relocating with their kids to LaGrange Park. 

Keeping their business in Forest Park, however, was important to them. 

“The village was very helpful,” Calahan said, “the mayor, Sally Cody, Steve Glinke, Lin Scollard and Bill Plum at the Building Department.” In fact, Mayor Calderone will preside over the restaurant’s ribbon-cutting on June 14. Currently, Amy’s Wine House is open Tuesday through Saturday, starting at 5 p.m.

Former customers and regulars from their Madison Street location have been flocking to the restaurant. 

“It’s a new improved version of Tapas,” Storey said. “It’s an oasis offering an outstanding wine list, a menu for every palate and a revolving beer list.” They have been purchasing craft beers from local producers, like the BuckleDown Brewery in Lyons.

Their new location also attracts customers from the nearby suburbs of Berwyn and Oak Park. “Patrons love being able to walk home from here,” Storey said. “Everyone who dined with us one night were Oak Parkers or Berwynites who had walked.” They are drawn, Calahan said, because “there was a need for a music venue that features mid- to upper-level wines where the over-30 crowd will feel comfortable.”

Storey designed the restaurant with this in mind. “We got inspiration from Yearbook,” she said, “Jef [Anderson] and Noel [Eberline] were wonderful. They had helped us decorate our other location.” The space features a modest-sized stage, which Calahan said could accommodate five tightly-packed musicians. In fact, their house band, Patois, features five members playing ska, reggae and a bit of calypso. “When they play, it sounds like you’re on an island,” Storey said. “You have to dance.”

The venue will feature music every Friday and Saturday. They also have a bluegrass band that plays on Wednesdays. They are planning to hold an open mic night on Tuesdays “for any level of musician or singer.” They welcome rock, jazz, blues and R&B. “We want this to be a neighborhood place with good wine, good food and good music,” Calahan said. “It can be a sanctuary from fast, angry, busy American life.”

Calahan mans the bar, while Storey cooks in a cozy kitchen that is actually smaller than the stage. The menu will include popular standbys, like their empanadas. So far, they’ve had a steady flow of patrons sampling the food, wine and sangria. Recently, two musical couples stopped by and spontaneously engaged in a sing-off of ’70s hits. Calahan was ready to join in with his stand-up bass.

The couple is aware that a beautification project is planned for Roosevelt Road in 2017. “We’re going to have a brand new streetscape,” Storey said. “We’re excited to get in on the ground floor of a revitalized Roosevelt.” 

When patrons inquire about the restaurant’s name, Calahan feigns ignorance, “Was there a singer?” [meaning the late Amy Winehouse, the troubled but talented entertainer]. 

Storey assures the customers that, “There really is an Amy.”

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.