Bottle & Bottega hosts grand opening of Evanston location

Jordan Harrison, Reporter

Spending an evening making art is something John Cmarko wouldn’t normally do. But 10 minutes into painting a cup of coffee, the Rogers Park resident said he was having fun.

“It’s good to get out and go do something different,” he said.

An Evanston branch of Bottle & Bottega, a Chicago-based art-and-wine party business, opened Wednesday on Davis Street.

Lynette Martin launched the new location after operating a mobile Bottle & Bottega studio since August 2012.

“Evanston is a great community,” Martin said. “It has an amazing arts culture … so it just seemed like a natural fit with our business.”

(Q-and-A with Bottle & Bottega Evanston owner Lynette Martin)

The studio hosts public events where customers can paint a particular subject each night with direction from experienced artists. Customers don’t need any painting experience, Martin said, and the events are BYOB.

“Our artists are very good at leading people through step by step how to complete a particular painting,” she said.

The store’s grand opening featured Peggy Kusinski, a Chicago sports news reporter, as a celebrity painter. The event also raised money for Erika’s Lighthouse, a nonprofit that provides mental health support for adolescents, and Girls in the Game, an organizationt focused on girls’ health and nutrition.

“What I love about them is that they provide opportunities for girls in neighborhoods of need, with programs focusing on sports, fitness, leadership and life, and it’s really about the all-around girl,” said Kusinski, who has sat on the board of directors for Girls in the Game for five years.

In addition to its public calendar of events, Bottle & Bottega hosts private parties and fundraisers. Half of the company’s business comes from private events such as bachelorette parties and baby showers, CEO Nancy Bigley said.

Though the face value of the franchise appeals to women, men who try the experience like it just as much, Bigley said.

The Evanston studio is now the fifth Bottle & Bottega in the Chicago area and the 10th nationally. Other stores are located in Dallas, Denver and Miami, Bigley said.

Martin, who originally worked in financial services, said she started Bottle & Bottega to marry her business background with her personal interest in art.

The concept of creating art socially should appeal to Northwestern students who like to get out and try new things, Martin said.

“If I look back at my time at university, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to pay someone a nominal fee to make artwork for my own dorm room or my own apartment,” Martin said.

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