Linda Cibula and her niece Emmeli Blackall are anxious to join the eclectic group of independent businesses on Madison Street in Forest Park. The duo is poised to launch The Foundry at 7503 Madison St., a boutique entertaining space focused on art- and food-related experiences.
“This building has been and always will be the gathering place for my family,” said Cibula. “We are a known family in the community, and we think it is important that The Foundry is a family-run business. We have every intention of running The Foundry as efficiently and ethically as possible.”
Cibula purchased the Madison Street building in 2013 and added a second floor, including two apartments and a rooftop deck, in 2015. She noted the building has had “a couple of lives” since she took ownership. She first used the space as a showplace for her own stencil technique before the building transitioned to a mixed-use office space and ultimately housed Urban Pioneer Group, which operated an entertainment space.
When the most recent lease came to an end, Cibula became focused on breathing new life into the property. She has partnered up with her niece, Blackall, to make her vison for her property a reality.
“This partnership is based on love, trust and mutual respect,” said Cibula. “We are on the same page about what we want to do here. This is a building that breeds creativity.”
“I have always looked up to my Aunt Zsa Zsa,” said Blackall referencing Cibula’s family nickname. “She knows I always have her best interest at heart.”
Blackall brings a wealth of experience to The Foundry. The former teacher-turned-event planner fell in love with all things food-related during her travels throughout Europe and has ties to Bleeding Heart, West Town and Red Hen bakeries. She has a private event space in Chicago and works closely with two chefs who will bring elevated fare to thoughtful gatherings at The Foundry. According to Blackall, one of the chefs cooked at The Heritage when it was open in Forest Park and the other has ties to Schwa in Chicago.
“We want The Foundry to be a venue that is embedded in the community — a place where people can celebrate important milestones, host a business meeting or enjoy cooking class,” said Cibula. “I love entertaining. The experiences you have when you invite people in to share your space are just priceless.”
Cibula and Blackall are clear, however, that anytime there are guests at The Foundry, whether it is for a business meeting or a milestone celebration, there will be staff on site and security measures in place to keep everyone safe and ensure all property rules are being followed. Additionally, the space will always close at 11 p.m.
“This isn’t the type of space people can rent and be left on their own,” said Blackall. “We are not a bar, and we don’t want to be a bar. The experiences offered at The Foundry will not be centered on drinking.”
Cibula and Blackall envision the flexible space being used for charitable fundraisers, private gatherings and artisan markets.
They also hope to use the first floor as a classroom or studio for chefs, artists and photographers. Both businesswomen are committed to working with organizations including Misericordia, Opportunity Knocks and Empowering Gardens, and look forward to collaborating with local businesses.
Cibula and Blackwell have been overseeing significant cosmetic changes to the space to lighten and brighten the first floor and cultivate a sense of togetherness. A former commodities trader, Cibula went on to earn a degree in architectural interior design. She indicated the changes are intended to foster a sense of cohesion between the second floor apartments she designed in 2015 and the first floor gathering space. The duo has embraced a copper and turquoise color palate to complement the exposed brick walls. The have also added a half dozen chandeliers to soften the space.
“We want the Foundry to be a space the community can use; we want to host experiences that included activities that bring the community together in a positive way,” said Cibula. “We are deeply committed to making The Foundry an asset to Forest Park and the surrounding communities. We want to be here to stay.”
Cibula and Blackall are hosting a community open house at The Foundry on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 5-8 p.m.