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'Andersonville Honors' Voting Under Way

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Andersonville Chamber of Commerce

ANDERSONVILLE — Voting opened Friday morning for the Andersonville Honors Awards, which celebrate the best of neighborhood businesses and organizations.

Voting runs until April 1 with an awards gala scheduled for April 18 at the Swedish American Museum.

This is the second year of the Andersonville Honors, said Jason Cox, associate director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event.

Andersonville Honors gives people who live or work in the neighborhood, and even visitors, a chance to recognize the outstanding businesses in Andersonville, Cox said.

Andersonville's small-business community is renowned in Chicago and a favorite subject for researchers who use it to compare the economic and social merits of small, independent shops with larger companies.

"One of the reasons why Andersonville has thrived — even when the economy was doing very poorly — is because the businesses get an incredible amount of support from both the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods," Cox said. "There are so many businesses that are unique and independently owned, and people love that."

Below is a summary of awards and information about some of the nominees.

Welcome Addition of the Year

This award is meant to honor the best Andersonville business that opened in 2012.

Nominees include: the Milk Homemade boutique; Found Vintage Living furniture; the Jameson Loves Danger pet shop; breakfast and brunch joint the Bongo Room, which brought its third location to the community last year; and Jerry's Sandwiches, a restaurant and bar with another location in Wicker Park.

Good Neighbor Of the Year

This award will be bestowed on a business recognized as a staple of community support and customer service in Andersonville.

Nominees include: resale shop Brown Elephant, which helps fund underinsured and uninsured clients at Howard Brown Health Center; First Slice Pie Cafe, a nonprofit that helps feed the homeless; GreenSky, a store that sells fair trade products made by area nonprofits and artisans, who use all recycled or re-purposed materials.

Health/Services Organization of the Year

This award acknowledges the top organization or business in the health and service industries in the neighborhood.

Nominees include: the Sir Spa, a spa for men; the Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services Center; and Athletico, a physical therapy and rehabilitation company.

Retailer of the Year

The retail shop that voters deem Andersonville's best will walk away with this honor in April.

Nominees include: "hipster" favorite Akira, a trendy clothing store; custom framing and antique store Foursided; and In Fine Spirits liquors.

Restaurant/Bar of the Year

Voters might have a particularly tough time choosing between their local favorites to decide which bar or restaurant deserves to be called Andersonville's very best.

Nominees include: classy but casual Irish restaurant and bar Lady Gregory's; Italian tapas bar Ombra; and neighborhood staples Simon's Tavern and Hamburger Mary's.

Arts Organization of the Year

Andersonville is a colorful place, and fittingly, also a thriving home for the arts. But who will take the gold?

Nominees include: the Gus Giordano Dance School; the pH Comedy Theater, which opened last year and brought its improve, sketch comedy and musical offerings to the neighborhood; and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, devoted to women theater artists.

The Best of the Best

Winners in each catagory will go head-to-head in an audience vote at the gala to earn the title "Best of the Best," and a $250 prize, courtesy of Bridgeview Bank.

Other Awards

The Eco-Andersonville Award will honor the business that has gone the furthest to minimize its carbon footprint. Eco-Andersonville will pick the winner.

The Mathiasson Community Service Award will be given to an individual recognized for exemplary commitment to the Andersonville community. The local chamber of commerce will decide who gets the award.

To see a full list of nominees and vote for a business or organization, go here. Buy tickets to the gala, here.