Brand Magnet

March 2020 View more

Photo Courtesy Lush

By Christie Willhite

The vegan in Kaleen Barbera knew a plant-based gourmet bakery would fill a market niche. The businesswoman in her knew she’d need to find just the right location to make it work.

When the newly renovated storefront at Jefferson Avenue and Main Street (the “Times Square of Naperville,” she calls it) opened up, Barbera knew she had a recipe for success.

“I had a good pulse on the vibrancy of Naperville. It’s a neat hometown, but it’s sophisticated as well,” she says. “I couldn’t see doing this anywhere else. If it’s not going to work here, it’s not going to work anywhere.”

Barbera’s Cinnaholic opened in January with lines down the block of customers eager to sample the bakery’s decadent cinnamon rolls done up with a choice of frostings and toppings.

The shop is only the franchise’s second location in Illinois—something that’s a bit of a trend in downtown Naperville, says Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.

Many of the business district’s new stores and restaurants and many of those opening soon are making their first forays into the state—or at least into the suburbs—by setting up shop in downtown Naperville, Wood says. “What we’re seeing is some destination brands choosing Naperville,” she says. “[The city] has caught their attention. It’s great. It gives people another reason to come to Naperville.”

Filson clothiers, which brought its first Illinois store to Naperville at the end of last year, will be joined this spring by the state’s second Top Fashions name-brand streetwear store. The second European Living shop began selling handmade clothing, accessories, and housewares in January. Lush Cosmetics (shown) plans a spring opening, while Lululemon will expand this spring into a larger space at Main Street and Van Buren Avenue.

Like Cinnaholic, fusion restaurant Seoul Taco opened in January. This spring the downtown dining menu will grow to include Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese barbecue, and Ladies & Gents, a restaurant and lounge created by a group of Naperville businesswomen, Wood says.

Shoppers and diners also will want to keep watch on Central Park Place as it nears completion. Already, Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea plans to bring its globally influenced café fare to the development on Washington Street. A restaurant and some retail likely will follow.

“Naperville enjoys a really good brand,” says Christine Jeffries, president of the Naperville Development Partnership. “The reputation of our community helps drive the level of development we want to see.”

The partnership works with city officials and property owners to ensure the downtown district—and the whole city—offer a mix of restaurants, retailers, and services that make both business owners and customers want to be here, Jeffries says.

“In the postmall era, we saw the rise of ‘lifestyle centers’ that basically grew out of grassy fields. But in downtown Naperville, we have a lifestyle center that grew organically,” she says. “Younger consumers want an experience. With the Riverwalk and the Century Walk art pieces, we have that, and it’s not fabricated.”

The city plans to begin work in April on a large streetscape project that ultimately will enhance shoppers’ experience with wider sidewalks, new trees and planters, and other infrastructure improvements, Wood says.

During the construction, lasting likely into early fall, portions of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street will be closed to traffic, but sidewalks and businesses will remain open.

New on the scene

Downtown Naperville welcomes eight businesses in winter and spring


Gourmet bakery launched in 2010 in Berkeley, California, featuring 100 percent vegan cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, and catering; opened second Illinois location in Naperville in January. 41 W. Jefferson Ave.,

European Living

Retailer offering handmade European coats, accessories, pottery, and bedding; opened its second location in Naperville in January. 124 S. Webster St.,


Seattle-based rustic apparel and outdoor company founded in 1897; opened first Illinois location in Naperville in late 2019.
41 W. Jefferson Ave.,


Japanese barbecue restaurant chain includes three locations in Chicago; expected to open in Naperville in spring.
47 E. Chicago Ave.,

Ladies & Gents

Restaurant and lounge being launched by a group of Naperville businesswomen; opening in spring. 5 W. Jackson Ave.,

Lush Cosmetics

Ethically minded cosmetics company is the latest incarnation by duo that launched Constantine & Weir in the 1970s in England; slated to open ninth Illinois store in Naperville in spring. 119 S. Main St.,

Seoul Taco

Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant based in Missouri; opened third Illinois location in Naperville in January. 206 S. Washington St.,

Top Fashion

Retailer offering high-end streetwear brands; opening second Illinois location in Naperville in spring. 233 S. Main St.,

In addition to these downtown retailers, the City of Naperville recently announced a second Costco will open in Ogden Mall.