First Fridays Nov. 4: Art, Music & Day of the Dead...

First Fridays on Nov. 4 invites you to explore art, music & more in downtown Aurora. This month, wear Day of the Dead makeup, wear masks, or bring your six-foot paper mache puppet for a Day of the Dead parade at 7:30 p.m. on Water Street Mall near Aurora’s City Hall on Downer Place. First Fridays brings art, music, dancing, and more to downtown Aurora on the first Friday of the month. Join your friends and neighbors in downtown! See the full list of participating venues below. **Free trolley rides from 7 to 10 p.m.** ****Nov 4 Venues**** – Art – Allen + Pepa Architects Art Gallery* (Anton Witek ~ 5 to 9 p.m.) If These Walls Could Talk* (“In Flux” Laura Lein-Svencner ~ 7 to 11 p.m.) David L. Pierce Art & History Center (Camp Hammond, 1861 ~ 6 to 9 p.m.) The ArtBar (The Despair Show ~ 6 to midnight) Repertoire Reservoir Studios (The Humanity of Deities ~ 7 to 10 p.m.) Blue Bird Beat @ Leland Tower (Watershed Watchdogs Photography Show ~ 6 to 8 p.m.) – Music – River’s Edge Cafe (Barn Party @ 7 p.m. ~ 5 to 9 p.m.) Ballydoyle (Jake Mack on the main stage. Artist Nate Velasquez ~ 5 to 9 p.m.) Leland Legends (Karaoke ~ 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) – More – Culture Stock (Spoken Word Open Mic ~ 8 to 9:30 p.m. & Day of the Dead Parade on Water Street Mall @ 7:30 p.m.) Gillerson’s Grubbery (Tailwinds rum and tequila tasting ~ 7 to 9 p.m.) AKA Dance (Hot chocolate and popcorn open house ~ 6 to 7:30 p.m) Zen Loft Wellness Center (Belly Dance, Yoga, Massage, & More ~ 6 to 9 p.m.) SciTech Hands On Museum (See a Day of the...

Coming Soon: Endiro Coffee...

Q&A with Cody Lorance of Endiro Coffee Endiro Coffee is opening at 29 W. New York St. soon. We chatted with Cody Lorance, director of U.S. operations for Endiro Coffee. Q: How did you start Endiro? A: We started the company as a simple coffee shop in Kampala, Uganda hoping to raise a bit of money to support a handful of children living in a specific home in Western Uganda.  We didn’t expect to be the top coffee brand in the country just a few years later.  Neither I nor my partner, Gloria Katusiime, had any business or even coffee experience – I always preferred energy drinks and she is a tea drinker.  Haha… but the company did grow. We now have five locations in Uganda and our Aurora venture is not only a first for us, but who has ever heard of a Ugandan restaurant coming to America? After Aurora? Who knows… we are having conversations with leaders all over the world. Q: How did you come to work with coffee farmers so closely? A: Just over a year ago, we decided that we could not continue in the coffee business unless we were sure that our coffee was being sourced in a way that was helping farmers and their families.  On a whim, we sent one of our baristas… herself a former “vulnerable child”… out into the farming villages in the Mount Elgon range in Eastern Uganda.  We asked her if she could find five farming women who would like to work with us. A few months later we met her for the report.  She had misunderstood and had come back with five GROUPS numbering some 2,000 small lot farmers.  We didn’t know how we were going to manage such a group,...

Coming soon: Public Access to 1 W. Downer Pl....

Public Access, a new coffee shop, arcade, and art gallery is coming soon to 1 W. Downer Pl. Public Access is the dreamchild of Mike Mancuso, who runs the Aurora headquarters of The Yetee, an online t-shirt company he co-owns with Canadian artist Glen O’Neill. Mancuso is working with Jenni and Marcus Contaldo of Modest Coffee, a local coffee company that roasts out of West Chicago. Since opening The Yetee in 2011, Mancuso has moved the location from the basement of the Graham Building on Stolp Avenue to a warehouse at 110 Cross St. The t-shirt company now prints their own t-shirts and employees about a dozen locals including a few artists who are well-known in the downtown arts scene. Mancuso also hosted art shows in the ground-floor gallery of The Yetee during several First Fridays and on special occasions. Due to the growth of his t-shirt business, Mancuso has been looking to move the gallery elsewhere in downtown along with the dozens of arcade games he’s been collecting over the last five years. The other player in this game is Kevin Fitzpatrick, who owns the warehouse where The Yetee is located. Fitzpatrick purchased it a year or two ago when The Yetee was already a tenant along with the adjacent building where Mausoleum Gallery is located. Fitzpatrick, who is a big supporter of downtown revitalization, recently purchased the building at 1 W. Downer Pl. at the northwest corner of Downer Place and Stolp Avenue and agreed to lease it to Mancuso. “The building was filled with junk, and it was not aesthetically pleasing. We are gutting the entire building, putting on a new roof, freshening up the exterior,” Mancuso, of Oswego, said. Mancuso and the Contaldos also both applied for and received grant...

Inside Downtown: Wayside Cross Ministries...

“Inside Downtown” takes you on a pictorial journey of downtown Aurora. Peek inside buildings, events, organizations, stores, and more. Learn about who and what makes downtown tick. Join us as we discover and learn about places and people in downtown. Wayside Cross Ministries 215 E. New York St.                                                                                            ...

Lighting up Aurora’s downtown one building at a time...

Aurora is the “City of Lights” and new lights installed on City Hall in downtown Aurora are proving that beloved logo to be true. Aurora Downtown, an organization of downtown business and property owners, recently purchased and installed the colorful, LED lights. The lights were paid for by Aurora Downtown’s Decorating Committee as part of their annual holiday decoration budget which in the past has fully funded the installation of Christmas lights. Previously, Aurora Downtown has paid a provider to install, repair, and store the Christmas decorations. As costs added up and Aurora Downtown recently lost a large majority of lights which they did not have the funds to replace, the decorating committee sought other ways to light up downtown. “We wanted to look for an option that would be able to be used year-round that had long sustainability  and would not have a high installation cost each year,” said committee chair Gina Salamone. She added that typical Christmas decorations last no longer than seven years before needing to be repaired or replaced. The committee hired Brian Larsen of Country Wide Landscaping who is known for the popular Christmas light show in Elburn.  Additional electrical work was also donated by Brian’s father, Gary Larsen, who is retired from the City of Batavia. The lights installed on City Hall will remain up year-round and can be changed to virtually any color. “Our hope for the next few few years is to continue progressing the lights up the river and potentially to other locations each year rather than expanding our traditional Christmas light supply.  City Hall seemed like a good place to start as it is a beautiful building and it can be seen from the Paramount and during popular events, like First Fridays,” Salamone said. The decorating committee...