Three new businesses will open in Forest Park in early 2017 and a townhouse development in the village also is in the planning stages.

Bella Angel Music and Escape Factor will be relocating to the village and Twisted Cookie will open its first brick-and-mortar facility.

Bella Angel Music director Ellen Bartolozzi said she hopes to open at 7601 Madison St., Suite E, on Jan. 2. She previously operated a studio at Harlem and Belmont avenues in Chicago that is now closed.

“Music has been the one thing in my life that has been positive,” said the eight-year Forest Park resident who has almost 30 years of teaching and performing experience.

“I like it here,” she said. “There are a lot of wonderful people.”

The studio will offer lessons and workshops for piano, vocal, guitar and drum students. Bartolozzi said she also offers lessons for two on piano or guitar if siblings want to study together.

She called the corner of Madison and Desplaines “a great location with good visibility.”

Jonathan Biag, co-owner of Escape Factor, said he and his partner, Dexter Cura, are relocating to 7728 Madison St. because they are “already outgrowing” their current Oak Park location less than a year after opening.

According to Escape Factor’s website, an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. Based on “escape the room” video games, the first physical escape room was created in 2006.

Biag explained that the new location will support four “hour rooms,” while their current location only has room for one “hour room” and one “20-minute room.”

“It’s a fun activity and really good team-building thing to do,” he said.

Village officials said Escape Factor is planning to open on Madison in February or March.

Although Twisted Cookie owner Joana Fischer has been making and selling baked goods for seven years, her new location, 7401 Madison, will be her first storefront.

She has been selling her specialty cookies online while working in a shared kitchen in La Grange. She also has sold wholesale through Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s.

Fischer said she specializes in “classics with a twist” and calls her cupcake cookie her signature item.

She said the building, which formerly housed Flavour Cooking School, will include baking facilities in the back and a storefront serving baked goods, cappuccino and espresso in the front. A Feb. 1 opening is planned.

Although the townhouse development still has to maneuver past the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Plan Commission, the project came to light when the Forest Park Village Council voted unanimously, Dec. 19, to sell a 5,000-square-foot piece of property on Van Buren Street south of Madison Street to Noah Properties LLC for $6,000.

According to village officials, Noah Properties executives have been in negotiations to purchase three “industrial-type” buildings along Van Buren, all owned by the same trust, and build townhouses on the combined property, which is across from Altenheim. During the title search, they discovered the existence of the village-owned 5,000-square-foot property adjacent to the other properties. Since they need that piece of property for water retention purposes to meet Metropolitan Water Reclamation District requirements, they approached the village.

“Nobody knew it was there,” Village Administrator Tim Gillian said. Research showed the property had been donated to the village in a trust in the 1990s.

The property was appraised at $7,500, but the village agreed to sell it for $6,000, which meets the legal requirement that sale of government property cannot be for less than 80 percent of its appraised value.

Mayor Antony Calderone said the development will “absolutely” be good for the village and noted it will “clean up” the balance of Van Buren Street. 

Additional information for Bella Angel Music is available on the website, by calling 773-745-9100 or by e-mailing Bartolozzi at

Additional information about Escape Factor is available on the website,, or by calling 708-943-7227.

Additional information about Twisted Cookie is available on the website,, or by calling 708-692-2128. 

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