Charmed Life

November 2021 View more

Mike Kelly, dean of students at Geneva Community High School, grew up in St. Charles and didn’t stray too far when house hunting. “I was looking for a starter house for myself and my wife-to-be and … we just kind of fell in love with the charm of Geneva,” says Kelly, 45. His wife, Megan, also works at the school as an art teacher, and their two sons are in their freshman and senior years there.

“Geneva has a surprising charm for a town of its size. You have the amenities of a bigger city, but it still has that small-town feel,” Kelly says. “Just the fact that you can come to eat, to drink, to stay, and to shop—and you can do this all within walking distance—it has the feel of a vacation destination, like a town you would visit on the weekend.”

Kelly’s favorite restaurant for a date night is the contemporary American restaurant Niche (14 S. 3rd St., 630.262.1000,

“I really think they are the culinary gem of the area. … I always walk out feeling full and happy,” he says. “They have great music playing, and really innovative cocktails—it’s a cool vibe.”

For a meal out with his sons, Kelly likes Nobel House (305 W. State St., 630.402.0452, nobelhouserestaurants
). “It’s a great place to watch a game with your friends,” he says. House-smoked meats are a specialty; Kelly’s favorites include the burnt ends and the Hog Melt, a sandwich layered with ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, and mojo sauce.

“Another favorite spot to meet up with friends is Social Bar,” Kelly says. This backyard patio is located behind Preservation (513 S. Third St., 630.208.1588, and is stocked with heaters to keep the outdoor party going into the winter.

The Kellys make it their goal to staycation once or twice a year at the Herrington Inn & Spa (15 S. River Ln., 630.208.7433,

“It’s minutes from home but it feels like a world away from our daily lives,” Kelly says. “We have found it just a great place for us to recharge our batteries. It’s not a cookie-cutter chain of hotels; this is independently owned and operated.”

Though Kelly admittedly isn’t much of a shopper, his wife is well-versed in downtown Geneva’s plentiful boutiques, clustered mostly along Third and State streets. “One of Megan’s favorite shops on Third Street is Odalisque Beauty Apothecary,” Kelly says. It stocks a wondrous collection of lesser-known skin care, makeup, and fragrance brands that you aren’t likely to find in the big-name chain stores (101 S. Third St., 630.232.2070,

Cheer is Near
Geneva’s annual Christmas Walk on December 3 includes a tree-lighting ceremony on the Kane County Courthouse lawn, holiday window displays in downtown storefronts, a live Nativity scene, and visits with Santa (reserve a time online in advance). On December 3 and 4, stroll through some delightfully decked halls at the Geneva Chamber Holiday House Tour. A $35 ticket includes a holiday tea
and self-guided tours of five homes.

Photos courtesy Mike Kelly, Nobel House, and Geneva Chamber of Commerce