New Nostalgia

December 2021 View more

One of Oswego resident and business owner Mike Mann’s fondest childhood memories is visiting Dairy Hut, an ice cream stand that’s been scooping since the ’60s. Growing up in Minooka, Mann would ride through Oswego every weekday on the way to school at Aurora Christian. On occasion, the drive home would include a pit stop at Dairy Hut. “I would always get the fresh banana shake, and that was our jam on the way home,” says Mann, now 49.

It was a sad day when Dairy Hut closed in August 2019, but in its place, Mann is paying homage by opening a new restaurant with a similar spirit. “When I saw it go up for sale, I thought, I don’t want just anybody snagging this,” says Mann, who also co-owns neighboring restaurant 113 Main (113 Main St., 331.216.5133,, which opened late in 2020.

The new eatery, Dairy Barn (121 Main St.), will open in January with indoor and outdoor seating and burgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, and Italian beef on the menu. “We will have soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes for the kids and adult milkshakes and slushies,” says Mann.

Mann and his wife, Ann, moved to Oswego in 1998 from Aurora, and they’ve since raised their two children, ages 19 and 20, there. One favorite destination is Hudson Crossing Park (65 N. Harrison St.). “It’s got a playground and a nice walking path around it, which leads to the [Fox River Trail] bike path,” Mann says. “The Waubonsie Creek feeds into the Fox River, and a lot of people come down there to fish.”

From there, it’s a short walk up to Main Street, where you’ll find a number of independent businesses, including the Village Grind Coffee & Tea Co. (19 S. Main St., 630.554.6678, “It’s extremely popular,” Mann says. “A lot of people bike that trail and get coffee and one of their homemade treats before they bike back up.”

In the old Oswego fire station, you can quench your thirst at Oswego Brewing Co. (61 Main St., 331.999.1991, “They’ve done a fantastic job,” Mann says. “We are going to have one of their beers at the Dairy Barn.” If wine is more your style, Fox Valley Winery (59 Main St., 630.554.0404, also recently moved into the same building from its former location on Route 34.

Come spring, Mann tees off at Fox Bend Golf Course (3516 U.S. Rte. 34, 630.554.3939, “It’s one of the nicer courses in the area. I’ve got buddies in Aurora and North Aurora that are constantly saying, ‘Let’s play Fox Bend.’ ” 

Holiday Vibes

One visit to the annual Oswego Christmas Walk is all you’ll need to see that this village goes all-out for the holiday season. The four-hour spectacle returns December 3 (4:30 to 8:30 p.m., with an ice sculptor, inflatable sled hill, tree-lighting ceremony, live reindeer, a light parade, holiday characters roaming the streets, and socially distanced portraits with Santa Claus in a snowglobe at Locked In Photography.

Photos courtesy 113 Main and by Wendy Greenslade