Showing off new boutique and wine bar, K. Hollis Jewelers hosts grand reopening Nov. 12

It’s quieter these days in the spot where Pal Joey’s pizza ovens blazed on busy nights or Golden Corral’s kitchen staff prepared food for buffet diners. Instead, busy jewelers now concentrate on the setting, cleaning or fixing jewelry for customers.

There was no need for a large kitchen or any other remnant of the restaurants that operated at 2030 Main St. in Batavia when Karen and Rob Hollis moved their jewelry store a few hundred yards south to reinvent it as K. Hollis Jewelers, Boutique and Wine Bar in a roomy 10,000-square-foot space.

The K. Hollis team has been busy serving customers while preparing for a grand reopening event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, that will feature a food truck, fashion show, live music and prizes.

The new store opened six weeks ago at the southwest corner of Randall Road and Main Street. It’s a high-traffic corner that lured diners to Golden Corral and then Pal Joey’s pizza for parts of the past decade.

The women's boutique area of K. Hollis Jewelers, Boutique and Wine Bar. The business has moved to a new location in Batavia.

The women’s boutique area of K. Hollis Jewelers, Boutique and Wine Bar. The business has moved to a new location in Batavia.
– Courtesy of Dave Heun

“Our decision was to completely gut the building and make it all retail,” Rob Hollis said. “So, it was an interesting project and demo because it was a big kitchen.”



With its wine bar and liquor license, K. Hollis will remain a place for community groups and nonprofit organizations to host events.

“We don’t charge anything for the use of the bar space,” Rob said. “By moving here, we have about four times as much space dedicated to the wine bar and events, so we can comfortably put 50 to 60 people into that area.”

In the past, K. Hollis Jewelers has hosted meetings or fundraisers for the 100 Women Who Care organization, as well as various service agencies, service clubs or chamber of commerce events and business meetings.

“People are finding us and our event space,” Karen Hollis noted. “We donate to all of the local schools and charities.”

One creation Karen is proud of is the “treasure box” at the store in which people who were possibly going to donate old jewelry to Goodwill instead may bring it to K. Hollis Jewelers. The jewelry will be cleaned or fixed and placed in a box for women staying at the Mutual Ground shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

Karen and Rob Hollis and their dog Murphy in the new K. Hollis Jewelers, Boutique and Wine Bar.

Karen and Rob Hollis and their dog Murphy in the new K. Hollis Jewelers, Boutique and Wine Bar.
– Courtesy of Dave Heun



“If these women are trying to get back into the workforce and have interviews or new jobs, or it is their birthday while staying at Mutual Ground, they can come in and look through the treasure box and pick out a gift,” Karen said.

It all indicates that Rob and Karen intend to keep their community involvement wheels moving, even as they take on a far bigger retail space and the introduction of women’s clothing in the mix.

“We kept the boutique on the same business philosophy as when we were starting a jewelry store,” Karen said. “We wanted something for everybody at every price point. We love being able to offer something for any age, any size and any price.”

As the Hollises continue to “decorate and work out kinks” in the new operation, they both know it is crucial before the holidays set in to settle back into their roles — Karen as the jewelry and clothing expert and Rob as the back-office pro and “maintenance guy.”

The only real difference at this point is that they will perform those tasks with much more room.

“We thought about putting up a wall and maybe leasing off some space, but when we figured it out in the books, it was going to cost us more to do that,” Rob said. “Plus, we weren’t particularly interested in being landlords.”

With each passing day, they see the benefit of that decision.

“We just have a lot more space to expand and change things, and as we come up with new ideas and new services, we will be glad to have the space,” he noted.

It’s a significant leap from the early days of K. Hollis Jewelers, which opened in 2005 in the Windmill Place shopping center. But for four years before that first dive into a brick-and-mortar setting, Karen had been making jewelry and arranging home parties and events.

“After about a thousand customers, Rob said I needed to get out of the house,” Karen said with a laugh.

And get out she did, much to the benefit of community organizations grateful for needed support and space and to women who can find a few of their favorite things — jewelry, clothing and wine — all in one place.

The Batavia Park District will dedicate the Philip B. Elfstrom Memorial Greenway at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Batavia Park District will dedicate the Philip B. Elfstrom Memorial Greenway at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.
– Courtesy of Batavia Park District

Elfstrom gets a greenway

Imagine not having a network of bike trails and walking paths along the Fox River.

Or, worse, imagine not having the Fabyan Parkway bridge over the Fox River.

Imagine not having the Kane County Cougars as an affordable and entertaining form of baseball in Geneva for families throughout the area.

All of that and far more came about because of the efforts of Batavia visionary and forest preserve official Phil Elfstrom.

More importantly, it was the Elfstrom “push” at work. That’s right. He pushed hard. Not everyone liked that about this interesting character from our past, but his ideas — and how to persuade others — helped enhance the quality of life in these parts.

Sometimes, his ideas didn’t take hold. Even when they didn’t, one could say he was likely right in the long term. For example, he told county officials for years that it would be a mistake not to rebuild Peck Road as a four-lane road, at least from Keslinger or Kaneville north to the courthouse on Route 38 and beyond. Traffic, at times, along Peck Road makes us wonder what a wider road could do.

The Batavia Park Board has understood what Elfstrom brought to the table all those years ago and will dedicate the Philip B. Elfstrom Memorial Greenway at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

The park district’s trail and open space from Webster Street in Batavia south to the Clark Island Recreation Area will become the greenway with Elfstrom’s name on it.

After all, Elfstrom was instrumental in helping create the Batavia Park District in 1970. From that moment on, he helped craft a vision for Batavia recreation areas along the riverfront.

Elfstrom passed away in 2017, but what he left behind for us will be around for many future generations to enjoy.

The irony of being homeless

People down on their luck because of job layoffs, health setbacks or other factors that could put them in financial chaos always had a supportive voice in the Tri-Cities.

Darlene Marcusson was that voice and more. She took on the role of a guardian angel.

Her desire to help others and push for the creation of the Lazarus House homeless shelter in St. Charles in 1997 stands out as one of the area’s finest examples of compassionate service.

Thus, it was a stunning case of irony to hear that Marcusson is now among the homeless, having her home in Florida destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

In a letter to her friends at Lazarus House, Marcusson showed the same optimism and hope for the future that she instilled in thousands of other people as director of Lazarus House and, upon starting her retirement in Florida in 2012, as a volunteer at soup kitchens and the Salvation Army.

“Often over the years, I would have people ask me why I would do all this,” Marcusson wrote. “Their implication was that people are homeless through some fault of their own, and perhaps that means they aren’t worthy of our love, concern and assistance.

“I always responded that anyone can become homeless and reminded them that helping our brothers and sisters in need is what Jesus would do,” she continued.

With her home in Good Samaritan Village in Kissimmee, Florida, ruined by floods, Marcusson told friends, “I am really and truly homeless.”

As she navigates her current situation, Marcusson intends to get through this in the same manner, she coached others. “Just put your trust in Jesus,” she said.

Batavians take Mart spotlight

The annual “One of a Kind Show” holiday sale at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago has a Batavia touch this year.

Batavia artists Ezra Siegel and Chris Ginder will be featured at this year’s show on Dec. 1-4 in the Merchandise Mart Plaza.

Siegel is a self-trained artist who says he was primarily inspired by visiting museums and absorbing knowledge from various art books.

Ginder has a different art form, operating Gindo’s Spice of Life, where he hand crafts fresh pepper hot sauces “to ignite creativity in the kitchen.”

More than 500 artists are expected to be part of the holiday show, of which a portion of all ticket sales ($15 for all four days) will benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Another Creamery episode?

Geneva finds itself in a situation where many residents suddenly have a fondness for a historic structure that is pretty much a shambles and sits in an area that is earmarked for development.

This time it’s about a demolition application for the old blacksmith shop that sits on the former Mill Race Inn property along the Fox River near Island Park.

It’s been in Geneva since 1843, bringing a certain level of nostalgia and wonderment. But if any developer were going to spend the money to salvage it, that would have been done years ago.

A similar debate unfolded about 35 years ago when a historic creamery building was “in the way” of development. After much debate, Shodeen Construction was able to salvage part of it for the Herrington Inn.

This time, a better use of resident concern and developer dollars would be to make something useful out of the boarded-up former Little Owl site that stands out prominently in the city — before it becomes even more of an eyesore.

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