ROGERS PARK — The Heartland Cafe took a proactive approach to solve Rogers Park's infamous parking problem by striking a deal with Chicago Public Schools to use a nearby school's parking lot on nights and weekends.
In return, the cafe's new majority owner Tom Rosenfeld agreed to host a select group of Eugene Field School students at the restaurant to teach them about healthy eating and cooking.
"It's a good way to get people to connect to the Heartland Cafe and for our kids to eat healthy," said Brian Metcalf, the school's principal. "It meets both of our needs."
Rosenfeld said he'd teach the kids also how to run a restaurant — but will stop short of teaching the children how to chop an onion.
“I don't think we’ll teach them how to cut vegetables," he said. "Eleven-year-olds wielding knives in our kitchen” doesn't sound like the best idea.
The restaurant and bar, located at Lunt and Glenwood avenues since the 70s, is surrounded by three-flats and other high density housing like much of the neighborhood, making parking there a headache for customers and residents alike.
The deal was officially forged at the end of November, and Rosenfeld and his customers have access to the parking lot — located about a block away — after school hours and on the weekends.
He said if the classes planned for early next year go well, he might take students to Earth First Farms, his organic tree farm in southwest Michigan, to teach about growing food on a farm.
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