183. The Care and Feeding of Librarians


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Every other Friday, a peculiar phenomenon descends upon Barrington, You see them in the streets – a little weary-eyed, but determined, clutching a wallet or purse, walking or driving through these familiar streets, clearly on a quest.

They are your Barrington Area librarians. They have just been paid. And they are hungry.

What luck, because the dining options in 60010 are fabulous! As part of the library’s 365 takeover this week, I asked my coworkers to tell me their favorite places to eat in the Barrington area. They took their task seriously, sending me photos, long lists of places, dishes, even beverages to try.

I got the ball rolling with Wool Street. If you can be addicted to the Oriental Chicken Wrap and those sweet potato stix, then I am and I am not ashamed. A little cup of dipping sauce comes with that meal. I don’t know what’s in it, I’m not even sure if it’s for the wrap or for the fries, but it literally is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Oh, and Wool Street serves Pepsi products, my preferred choice for the caffeine that keeps this library employee running through my long and hectic days. The staff is also super-friendly.

Enjoy a craft beer, yummy pizza or those addictive sweet potato stix at Wool Street.
Enjoy a craft beer, yummy pizza or those addictive sweet potato stix at Wool Street. Photo courtesy of the Barrington Area Library.

Youth Services Librarian Becky Fyolek used one word to describe her feelings about those same sweet potato stix: “Drool.” And Becky knows more than most about drool these days, because she’s a new mom!

“When you’re a new mom, no, scratch that, a working new mom, making a lunch in the morning is the last thing on your mind. I spend my mornings feeding and diapering my son while also fixing his bottles for daycare, getting last minute things done around the house, and making sure that I end up dressed for work with makeup on both sides of my face. ” Becky’s diligence in her new routine often lacks one critical item: her own lunch.  Can you say, ‘Hello, Jimmy Johns?”  A Turkey Tom (Turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and mayo. Yum!) is exactly what this mommy librarian needs to make it through a day of story times, book recommendations, and school projects. She uses the Jimmy John’s app to order and her food arrives freaky fast. Just like on TV!

Librarian Becky Fyolek is teaching her young son how to read a menu at a very early age. Photo courtesy of Becky Fyolek.
Librarian Becky Fyolek is teaching her young son how to read a menu at a very early age. Photo courtesy of Becky Fyolek.

Speaking of fast and delicious, our next-door neighbors at Frantonio’s Italian Cafe are a huge favorite with the library staff.  Business Services Librarian Emily Kornak  loves the tiramisu so much she finished it before I could get downstairs for a photo. And her office mate, Librarian Liz Kirchhoff, claims, “I would do just about anything for that tiramisu, maybe not all of it entirely legal.”  That’s some serious tiramisu craving, but the made-while-you-wait cannoli bring a smile to Head of Circulation Services Marie Thomas. Everyone raves about a particular sandwich: for Marie, it’s the Delizioso (mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil with olive oil and Italian spices), while Circulation Associate Laura Morici orders Andre’s Squisito – it’s a mouthful to pronounce, but it’s made of wonderful things like prosciutto, homemade fresh mozzarella, grilled eggplant and bruschetta.

Marie Thomas, Sharon Krasel and Laura Morici of the library share favorite local menus. They're camera-shy.
Marie Thomas, Sharon Krasel and Laura Morici of the library share favorite local menus. They’re camera-shy.

Sharon Krasel in Circulation is a Barrington native and has worked here for many years, so she knows the ins and outs of lunch, 60010-style. “Boloney’s, PIZZA FACTORY (the best), Ciao Baby (Karen adds: “Another favorite of mine – you cannot go wrong bringing guests to Ciao Baby for lunch or dinner”), The Tracks, Chef Bo’s Green Garden, China Palace, Primo’s…” Her list was like a stream-0f-consciousness rap on restaurants, but when pinned down for a fave she declared the “melt in your mouth” Sloppy Joes at Pizza Factory to be the winner.

Sharon was not the only one partial to those Sloppy Joes, also mentioned by our IT Manager, Thomas Nielsen. Tom also sings the praises of lunch at Kooker’s, particularly the awesomely named Fiesta Tots. No, that is not a children’s dancing class, it is a side dish comprised of Tater Tots, loaded with sour cream, bacon bits, melted cheese and jalapenos. A taters and nachos mash-up – woot! (We have noticed there’s a Tater Tot Trend in Barrington in general.)

Librarians love clever references to pop culture, especially when combined with yumminess. Adult Services Librarian Lizzy Klinnert loves the Lily Muenster (the Muenster we could all relate to, right?) sandwich (Turkey, sliced egg, muenster cheese, tomato and lettuce with ranch or mayo stuffed in a pita pocket) at Boloney’s Sandwich Shop so much she gave it three yums up in an email to me, along with a photo:

The Lily Muenster at Boloney's. Photo courtesy of Lizzy Klinnert.
The Lily Muenster at Boloney’s. Photo courtesy of Lizzy Klinnert.

When there’s time for a more leisurely pace or to celebrate a special occasion, many on the library staff enjoy PL8. The uber-cool decor, the something-for-everyone Asian fusion menu and that fantastic fresh ginger ginger ale keep us coming back for more. A group of us celebrated our Director’s fifth anniversary there just a few weeks ago.

When there’s no time at all, and you’re sprinting to work from the METRA station, there’s just one place that will do: our friendly neighborhood Dunkin Donuts!  “America runs on Dunkin, and so does Adult Services Librarian Gwyneth Stupar.” Gwyneth loves the fast and friendly service and the fact that they have her drink order DOWN: a grande iced mocha latte with whipped cream. Gwyn is not the only with special beverage needs. Head of Youth Services Ryann Uden occasionally messages me as the noon hour approaches: “Today is totally a Polar Pop kind of day.” If you don’t know what Polar Pop is, stop in at the Shell Circle K at 14 and Lake-Cook and check out the enormous soda machine.

Librarian Gwyneth Stupar demonstrates her talent for selfies outside of Dunkin Donuts. Photo courtesy of Gwyn.
Librarian Gwyneth Stupar demonstrates her talent for selfies outside of Dunkin Donuts. Photo courtesy of Gwyn.

Donuts and coffee make a good start to the day, but sometimes you want something more substantial, and Barrington has loads of good breakfast/brunch spots. Library staff can often be found at Egg Harbor Cafe, where Laura loves the Door County Melt. Marie says, “It’s where I go when I don’t know where to go, because I can always count on them.” My family is on a first name basis with everyone at The Bread Basket. Mom gets the Bread Basket Special, your Holy Trinity of pancakes, eggs and sausage or bacon, while I cannot get through a week without the Chicken Julienne Salad, a light and crispy salad topped with a Greek-seasoned chicken breast, honey mustard dressing and a side of warm, fresh pita bread. Having Sam greet me with a “Hi Karen, how are you today?” just makes the food taste that much better.

So, that’s our little love letter to dining a la Barrington – thanks for keeping us happy, content and fueled-up for providing great service to our community!

 


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