2022 Business Person of the YearThe Rotary Club of La Grange is pleased to honor Maria Marciniec as our 2022-2023 "Bob Butler" Rotary Club of LaGrange Businesspersons of the year. When you think LaGrange, there aren’t many businesses in the downtown that have been around since Ronald Reagan was president, but TATES Old Fashioned Ice Cream at 25 S. Ashland Ave. is one of them.
The Village’s favorite spot for cold summer treats celebrated its 35th year anniversary in June 2022. Businesses like Tates, are one of the reasons why many people choose to buy a home here. People sometimes move away, come back to live here and wind up bringing their kids here for ice cream, just like when they were young.
TATES first opened in 1987 under a different owner, who later opened a TATES in Wheaton. The name is a tribute to the original owner’s sons, named Tim and Terry’s adding the “E” for Eat, and “S” Shop completed the acronym. “I kept the name when I bought it 13 years ago,” Marciniec said. “She started something special in the community.” Marciniec first learned the business by working in her parent’s fast-food restaurant, Mr. Quick, in Pontiac, Illinois. Mr. Quick was part of a small chain and when the family moved to the Chicago area, it opened one in Bolingbrook. Maria has been in the food business ever since. “It’s in my blood,” Marciniec said.
Maria worked at Women's Health Care in Hinsdale for ten years doing fetal monitoring on expecting moms and loves that she heard heartbeats from the beginning of the little ones that have come in to TATES while they were potty training, lost a first tooth, went to their first dance, and now are old enough to work at TATES.
It was her time at Mr. Quick that gave her the experience to help her business compete. “I learned how the franchisers do it,” she said, “so I know the challenges of keeping up with the big boys. I don’t have a corporate office I can call for help with supplies, so I have to be creative.” That creativity accounts for her policy of planting tokens in six Village parks for kids to find and bring in for a free treat. When the kids bring their families in, they wind up buying ice cream for themselves. During the pandemic, she kept that creativity going by serving “sundae kits,” or kits with a craft attached, so that they could take something home while the in-store business was limited.
All of the ice cream sold in TATES is created in house, which means Marciniec is on the job most mornings at 6:30 a.m. She said that her favorite flavors are the ones requested by customers. “Those are the ones I like making,” she said. “We have a chalkboard where customers can make suggestions.” Maria felt a calling to buy TATES when she did. “It didn’t look like TATES was going to stay and it needed to stay,” she said. “I’ve been having fun ever since.”
Maria is a member of the LGBA, and the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce. How long she will continue having that fun is as yet undetermined, but as with many people, her health will let her know when it’s time to retire. “As long as my body lets me,” she said of her plans. “It’s a physically-taxing business. But I’ll keep at it as long as I can. I love it.” She is married with 3 children. Her family also owns Dan’s Pizza in Downers Grove, named after her husband, which has served the area for more than 43 years and has been taken over by one of the family’s sons.
The Rotary Club of LaGrange is pleased to honor Maria Mariniec as the 11th recipient of the Bob Butler Business Person of the Year Award.
2021-22 Bob Butler Rotary Business Person of the Year Award RecipientsMonday, April 25, 2022
The Rotary Club of LaGrange is pleased to announce Phil & Steve Palmer as the 2021-22 recipients of the Bob Butler Rotary Business Person of the Year Award.
PHIL & STEVE PALMER
When you think LaGrange, Phil, Steve, and the entire Palmer family come to mind. The Palmer family has been synonymous with LaGrange for many decades. In the mid 70's Phil and Steve's parents purchased The Spot to Eat Restaurant, one of only 5 restaurants in downtown LaGrange. in 1983, The Spot to Eat was closed and Palmer Place Restaurant & Biergarten was created. Just like LaGrange, Palmer Place has seen a lot of change throughout the years, improving and expanding in many directions to create what we see today. Palmer Place has employed thousands of local kids throughout the years, employing anywhere from 70-100 per year. They've employed generations of families, some of whom have worked there for over 30 years.
Phil and Steve have lived in the LaGrange area for most of their lives, moving to Western Springs when very young and graduating from Lyons Township High School (LT). Phil now lives in the same home he and Steve grew up in. There, he and his wife Kathy raised their two children, Kyle and Emma. Steve lives in LaGrange with his wife Jenny where they also raised two children, Robert and Merle.
Phil and Steve have been involved in the family business in one way or another since they were very young, helping mom at The Spot to Eat since they were in the 5th and 9th grade respectively. After graduating from LT, Steve served in the US Army, returning home afterwards to work at Palmer Place and the LaGrange Fire Department simultaneously. The demand of the restaurant called Steve to have to choose. So, in 1990, he started to work at Palmer Place full time. After LT, Phil headed off to the University of Denver. Returning home after graduating from college, Phil followed his dad's footsteps, going into the restaurant equipment business. Then in 1991 he too started to work at Palmer Place full time. The two brothers have worked there until recently selling the business to another family, the Tarman's.
Phil and Steve were very particular in choosing the future owners of Palmer Place, picking a family who has a successful track record in the restaurant industry. Even though ownership of Palmer Place has changed hands, both Phil and Steve are still helping the Tarman family through the transition.
Both Palmer brothers are very active in the community. Steve as two-time president of the LGBA, one time president of the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce, member of the Economic Development Committee, an active member of the board of the Illinois Restaurant association, Metra, and the LT Mental Health Commission. And recently founder of Brew Moon.
Phil spent much of his volunteer time in local education. He was an LTHS board member for 8 years, Highlands Elementary & Middle School board member for 4 years and a vital member of the Highlands Educational Foundation. Phil was also very active with the Helping Hand where he also was a board member.
Phil and Steve credit their mom as the core to the family and all that was created. She fought to get Palmer Place up and running and did everything from pouring beers to taking out the garbage. Mom taught the boys well as they continue her legacy today.
The Rotary Club of LaGrange is pleased to honor Phil & Steve Palmer as the 10th recipients of the Bob Butler Business Person of the Year Award.
Award Criteria and Past Recipients
The Rotary Club of LaGrange established the Rotary Business Person of the Year Award to honor a business leader who works in LaGrange, and in 2014 renamed the award in honor of longtime club member Bob Butler. The recipient does not need to reside in LaGrange and may be retired or semi-retired. The Vocational Service committee of the Rotary Club is responsible for nominating the recipient.
Vocational Service is one of the five Avenues of Service which are the cornerstone of Rotary. Rotary was founded in Chicago in 1905 by four businessmen who were looking for others they could trust to do business with. As Rotary developed, the organization adopted the Four-Way Test by which Rotarians live and conduct their business:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
Adherence to the Four-Way Test along with years of business leadership in the community, volunteer work and community involvement, and stability and growth in the business community are the criteria for choosing the recipient of this award.
2012-13 John R Madden
2013–14 Ruth Palmer
2014-15 Robert E. Butler
2015-16 Dick & Wayne DeVries
2016-17 John Rot
2017-18 Joan Smothers
2018-19 Tom Cunningham & Steve DeSitter
2019-20 Cindy Perkins
2020–21 Phil Fornaro