Natural Charm

October 2021 View more

When house-hunting 13 years ago, Paula Jordan was drawn to Plainfield for its easy access to nature and downtown district of independently owned businesses. “I just kind of like exploring quaint places. I drove down here and I really like the surroundings,” says Jordan, 55, who was born in Chicago and had also lived in Bellwood and Aurora before settling in Plainfield. She worked in human resources for the Illinois Tollway for 32 years and recently retired to focus on her culinary businesses in Plainfield: Cucina Fresca, a shared commercial kitchen space, and Milkshake & Cookies, a dessert shop (16122 S. Rte. 59) opening this fall.  

“My husband and I really love nature,” she says. They ride their bikes through Mather Woods (25032 W. Renwick Rd.) and also enjoy visiting Settlers’ Park (24401 W. Lockport St.). “It’s one of my favorite places to just come and sit and take in the beauty and bird watch,” she says. “We also have Lake Renwick Preserve, a nature park where people go fishing.”

Jordan loves coffee and wine—and there are plenty of places to sip spectacularly in Plainfield,
such as record store/café combo Black Dog Vinyl Cafe (16108 S. Rte. 59, 815.733.6032,

“It’s sip-and-shop, so they have coffee but they also have adult drinks,” Jordan says. “You can buy vinyl records and it’s a really nice hangout spot.” She is also a devoted fan of Wine and Cheese Co. (24104 W. Lockport St., 815.436.5444,—and not just because they serve jams from her company, Mother of Chicago Jams. “They built a wine garden right next to the building and they have live music out there and it’s just beautiful,” she says. “It’s a nice date spot or a place to just have a glass of wine, whether it’s summer or winter.” She’s also excited about the new winery in town, Sable Creek Winery (14912 S. Eastern Ave., 815.214.9463, 

When it comes to dining out, you’re likely to find Paula and her husband ordering the smoked salmon, greens, and cornbread at Station One Smokehouse (15025 S. Des Plaines St., 815.271.6328, She also likes Sovereign (24216 W. Lockport St., 815.556.8577, and the Next Whiskey Bar, aka NWB (24205 W. Lockport St., 779.234.9191, “Sovereign is just a really cool place. … Inside they have a juice bar called Juiceheads, too,” Jordan says. “NWB, when I go in there, they remember me. They remember the drink I had the last time—that’s great service.” 

When she’s craving a little extra inspiration, you might find Jordan soaking up the positive vibes at Be of Good Ju Ju (24046 Lockport St., 224.255.5858,, which sells crystals, essential oils, jewelry, and tarot cards. “If I really need a pick-me-up or a place to go and feel good, I go in there and buy candles or incense or things like that,” she says. 

A Spooky Return

After going on hiatus last year, Plainfield’s Halloween Spooktacular is slated to return October 30, organized by the Plainfield Shorewood Area Chamber of Commerce. In past years, the event has kicked off with trick-or-treating at downtown Plainfield businesses followed by activities at the C.W. Avery Family YMCA. Details:

Photos courtesy Paula Jordan, Krista Stechman, and Forest Preserve of Will County