Businesses gird for Harlem ‘pain in the butt’
Jill Showalter, of Yuppie Puppy in Oak Park, calls the upcoming Harlem Avenue construction “a pain in the butt.” | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:19AM
Business managers along Harlem Avenue have one word to describe the impending road construction: pain.
“It was a pain the last time they did it over here,” said Juanita Mendez, who has worked for 10 years at Chavas Tacos #2, just north of North Avenue on Harlem Avenue,
The resurfacing project is expected to start this week and will tie up the major thorough fare from 26th Street in North Riverside to Collum Street near Norridge through summer. Sections of Harlem will be shut down or lanes reduced making it virtually impossible to travel.
It’s not welcome news to businesses and workers along the route.
Mendez wonders how she will get to work from her home in Chicago during the construction.
“It’s going to take a lot more time,” she said of her commute.
Jill Showalter’s dog and cat grooming service, Yuppie Puppy, faces Harlem Avenue, just north or Chicago Avenue.
“I think it will be a pain in the butt, but that’s it,” Showalter said.
She thinks the roadwork’s impact will be minimal because her customers cannot park on Harlem anyway.
“All my customers park on the side streets,” she said. “I don’t think it will negatively impact our business.”
Marlene Lynch, who owns Marks Travel Service right around the corner on Chicago Avenue, takes a more pragmatic approach to the work.
“It’s got to be done,” she said.
Just next door to Lynch’s business, Mary Dirks, owner of Pizzazz Hair Salon, 1138 Chicago Ave., said she’s been at this location for 23 years and has experienced the last time Harlem Avenue was resurfaced.
“I’ve been through this type of construction and I’m still here,” she said while working on a client’s hair.
“People will find a way,” she said.
Sun Lee, owner of K Cleaners, 1704 Harlem Ave., north of North Avenue hopes the project will be finished as soon as possible. She’s been at the location for 19 years.
“They take forever,” Lee said. “We pay taxes and they take forever to finish.”
At Sherwin Williams paint store, 1701 Harlem Ave., George Maldonado, who has worked as the store’s assistant manager since 2009, said the resurfacing will make their job a bit more difficult because they deliver paint to customers.
“It’s going to take a lot more time,” he said.
“Whatever the customer needs,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not a quart of paint, but we’ll deliver it. It’s all about getting business from the competition.”