Good to Grove

June 2021 View more

“I think Downers Grove is one of the hidden gems of the western suburbs,” says Robert Fernandez, the newly appointed chairman of the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation. Growing up in Bolingbrook, Fernandez often hung out in Downers Grove and settled there in 2008 with wife, Vicky—his high school sweetheart from Benet Academy in Lisle—to raise their four daughters.

“In terms of iconic venues [in Downers Grove] … the Tivoli Theatre is one of the most beautifully restored vintage theaters,” says Fernandez, 46, a partner at Chicago law firm Latham & Watkins. After being closed throughout the pandemic, Classic Cinemas Tivoli Theatre (5021 Highland Ave., 630.968.0360, reopened in April, boasting a new smaller 31-person theater with heated recliner seats in addition to its big-screen theater.
As a musician himself (he’s the lead singer of local rock cover band Turbo Shot), Fernandez is a fan of Ballydoyle Irish Pub & Restaurant (5157 Main St., 630.969.0600, “It’s a great place to go for live music
… and we play there about three times a year,” he says.

For drinks with friends, you’ll find him at Pierce Tavern (5135 Main St., 630.869.5333, “The All American Burger is hard to beat,” he says. “And they make a great old-fashioned.” As of presstime, the owners were preparing to open Bar Chido (1012 Curtiss St.,, a Mexican eatery, next door with a walk-up window for quick taco take-out.

Fernandez says he’s also a fan of the Foxtail (5237 Main St., 630.541.9240, and Cadence Kitchen & Co. (5101 Mochel Dr., 630.442.7631, “Foxtail has such a great vibe and the Mediterranean-infused menu is something that’s really cool. I also love going to Cadence and sitting on the patio outside,” he says.
For golfers, he offers this lesser-known trivia: The Downers Grove Golf Club (2420 Haddow Ave., 630.963.1306,, now a public nine-hole course and driving range operated by the Downers Grove Park District, is the site of the country’s first 18-hole golf course. In 1892, it was also the site of the first course west of the Allegheny mountain range. “It’s great and it’s cheap,” Fernandez says.

His favorite neighborhood green space is Washington Park (835 Prairie Ave.), and he also recommends checking out McCollum Park (6801 Main St.) and Patriot’s Park/Barth Pond (501 55th Pl.), the site of the village’s annual fishing derby, coming up August 7. Register at

Tunes in the Park
After a hiatus in 2020, Downers Grove’s Summer Concert Series returns to the amphitheater at Fishel Park (1036 Grove St.) with a socially distant format. Reserve a free viewing area for up to six people and listen to performances ranging from country to rock to oldies at 7 p.m. Tuesdays through August 17. Advance registration
is required. See the full schedule and registration details at

Photos courtesy Pierce Tavern and by Danielle Strohmier