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How Lisa Jaroscak Created Hospitality Brand Shore Club to Fill a Gap on Chicago's Lakefront
4 days ago
Runners on the Lakeshore Path spend miles with their noses down, but starting August 2017, there was a reason to look up just north of LaSalle Street. The Shore Club is an oasis on the Lakefront that Lisa Jaroscak and her two partners - Robbie Schloss and Nick Thayer - helped to create.The day that this location opened its doors, Jaroscak told us that she accomplished a big goal that took months of hard work and endless creativity. She talked through what that meant for her on this week's episode of our podcast, #WeGotGoals (a live episode that we recorded at the new Moxy Chicago).That goal and its achievement may seem like a departure from where Jaroscak started her professional journey. Just five years ago, Jaroscak graduated from college with formal training as an operatic soprano.But as any musician learns, getting paid to perform your craft comes with a lot of hustle. And that hustle propelled Jaroscak to find opportunities - opportunities to book other artists and to eventually produce music festivals and events.When she found the site that would become The Shore Club, her eyes were already open to opportunities and she was willing to put in the work to make it happen. The rest of the pieces fell into place after Jaroscak trusted her gut and charged ahead to bring her project to life.Listen to this week's episode and you'll hear Jaroscak discuss how she met her partners, the inspiration for the Shore Club, and who you should never ask an opera singer to belt out a note for you (she never actually discussed that, but I did ask her to sing a note and realized to my horror that it was like asking a sprinter to run their fastest 40-meter dash, totally cold).And if you enjoy #WeGotGoals, subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts and leave us a rating or a review on Apple Podcasts.-------JAC:Welcome to #WeGotGoals, a podcast by aSweatLife.com, on which we talk to high achievers about their goals. This week's episode is a special episode. We recorded it live at the Moxy Hotel Chicago, which just opened up so you may hear a little bit of background noise and a little bit of music, but that's really just the ambiance and the fun of the Moxy coming through on this episode. Let's get to the show. I'm Jeana Anderson Cohen and with me I have Maggie Umberger and Kristen Geil.MU:Hi Jeana, how's it going?KG:Hey Jeana.JAC:What's up, goal-getters?MU:Jeana, this week you spoke with Lisa Jaroscak of the Shore Club.JAC:I did, so Lisa does a lot of things, the Shore Club being one of them. And I say a lot of things because it's actually sort of staggering. She currently is involved with, a partner of or leading at four different companies across Chicago. Everything from the seasonal work that's involved in the Shore Club, which is a restaurant located on Chicago Park District land right on the lake shore. It's really beautiful and one-of-a-kind. She's also involved in some planning and event logistics and operations, so her work really spreads from that sort of hospitality mindset.MU:So the Shore Club is newer to Chicago even though people have been running on the lake shore path for a very long time. This is a new addition to what tourists and locals can experience alike, and I think it's a need for the lake shore. So when Lisa saw this space, she almost became obsessed with the goal of creating it and creating that opportunity for people to experience what she had in her mind.JAC:Yeah. She's absolutely a fixator, which I say in a way that is incredibly positive because I too am a fixator and when I say she fixates, she talked about how she saw the space on the lake shore path that would become the Shore Club and at first, she saw it as a perfect venue to host an event for one of her clients and then as she started to dig into the logistics of actually opening a restaurant or an event space on Chicago Park District property, she realized really quickly that it needed to be open and available and accessible to all Chicago residents. So a restaurant was the clear way to go.JAC:The Shore Club is inspired by beautiful beaches across the world, how Lisa puts it, and really when you see it, it makes sense because it looks like something you could find in Greece. It looks like something you'd find in the south of Italy or France or Croatia, wherever you'd want to go to a beautiful beach with great beach food or snacks to share. This place really represents that and I. But I think what's most striking, even though the design is incredible and even though the place is remarkable, I think what's really striking about it is that Lisa is so young.JAC:She's out of college in a handful of years, so she hasn't been in the workforce for a super long time. Her professional training was in music and she sort of had this idea, had this dream, had this vision and found the people to help her execute it. And when that vision was like create this beautiful place that was healthy, that that really reflected the lake rather than taking away from it. What she created was truly remarkable, especially given her age and experience.KG:And it seems like in your interview, even though she's so young and she's already accomplished so much, she stayed really humble throughout it all.JAC:She's super humble and I'm going to point to a couple of things for that, one being just the hard work that goes into event production in general and hospitality in general. Sometimes when you hustle all the time, it's hard to sort of spend a lot of time on ego. And the other one being where we're both from.JAC:So we're from Minnesota, she's from a town that borders mine. I'm from Anoka, she's from Coon Rapids and we are a hardy stock, the Minnesota people, we work hard and we do not take compliments well. So when you hear her sort of speak to her own accomplishments, it, it's sort of those things where it's just she's put her nose down, she's worked really hard probably for her entire life. And now you're really sort of seeing that pay off.MU:On this podcast. We get to talk to high achievers and how and talk to them about how they approach goals in general. And some are really opposed to thinking far ahead and they really like living in the present moment, but it seemed to me like the way that you talk about, uh, how hard she works in what she's doing. It doesn't, doesn't leave her much room to talk about the big goals in the future. It's really just driving forward and kind of digging down into that hard work. Would you say that that sort of her mindset about goal setting in general?JAC:Yes. And she also knows that she wants more of these restaurant brands. She wants to be a restaurant group and have a restaurant brand that's known across the country. So I, I think that she's present in the work that goes into making a successful brand, but she's not removed from the path that leads you to future growth.KG:Another thing Lisa mentioned in the interview was how important it was for her to find the right partner for the Shore Club. Can you talk a little bit more about why this was so important to her?JAC:The partnership was incredibly important to Lisa in creating the Shore Club because she needed help in areas where she hadn't had experience, so when she started to get connections and pointed towards people who were a friend of a friend or were from where she's from or went to church camp with her in one case, she started having these conversations about the vision and the dream and and sort of was able to see the synapses fire in other people and the connections get formed.JAC:You'll hear her talk about the gentleman who would eventually become her partner and how she just knew she had a gut feeling that he would come to this meeting and he would be her path forward. So even though he was an hour late, which I will tell you, does not strike a Minnesotan well. We are punctual people. She stayed. She waited because she just knew intuitively that this meeting was important. Whether he would end up being her partner or not. And he ended up being her partner.MU:We're so excited to hear this full interview with Jeana and Lisa. So here it is.JAC:I'm here with Lisa Jaroscak on an episode of #WeGotGoals. Lisa, how's it going?LJ:It's going good. Pretty busy, but good. ]JAC:And you're busy for a lot of reasons which we'll get to, but we're here actually doing a live episode at the brand new Moxy Hotel here in Chicago. So shout-out to Moxy for hosting us in this incredible podcast studio. But Lisa, you've got a lot going on right now before we get into the big question. So talk me through how you spent today.LJ:Oh Man, today. Well, I got up and I picked up some popcorn from Garrett's Popcorn for a favor, for a wedding that I'm doing this coming weekend. And then after that we moved on and I went to Shore Club. We're opening this weekend on Friday and we're getting ready. We have our friends and family opening tonight and getting the space set and we had a photo shoot today.JAC:It's a busy day.LJ:Yeah, definitely.JAC:And you have not always been in the business of food and beverage and hospitality. Right? You started your career more so in music. Can you talk me through how you made the leap from music into hospitality?LJ:Yeah, so my background being in music kind of started with, you know, I was performing a lot and I did a lot of gigs all around town and I was touring for a little while and then from there it just seemed like a natural progression to get more into the production side of things and booking. So I was working with some other artists and helping them book for like festivals and private events and corporate events, all sorts of different things. And then from there, you know, it was like, OK, so you're getting the artists. So now can you get the sound? Can you get the stage, can you get the lights, can you get the tent, can you get the mobile stage unit, all of that. And suddenly you're, you're producing the whole event.JAC:And when we talk about artists, you're not talking about just like an artist, no one's heard of, you're talking about Chance the Rapper, you're talking about O.A.R. and some other big names. So you're being very humble about your background.LJ:Yeah, I think working in some of the large festivals--I've worked on Lollapalooza, I've worked on the NFL draft, different things like that that are bringing in, you know, high level talent that are coming in and performing for large masses of people. They are absolutely excited. And, and when you talk about like working with the artists, you are, you know, for me, I'm in the background and I'm setting up the stages, I'm setting the microphones, I'm collaborating with all the vendors that are involved in making it happen.JAC:So talk me through how you started the Shore Club, before we jump into your big goals.LJ:Yeah. So man, three years ago I was working with the Chicago Bears and Soldier Field and I was working on some tailgating events and from there I met a gentleman that was working, working with the Park District and he introduced me to this space. And when I was first looking at it, I thought of it as being an event venue because I thought it would be a great place to host people and as the process kept going, I started realizing it needed to be public and the way to do that is to make it into a restaurant and you know, there really weren't a lot of restaurants on the lake front, especially restaurants that do high end food. And so we started going after it and I got introduced to my partner, Robbie Schloss about two and a half years ago.LJ:So about six months into my process. And from there he and I like hit the ground running, talking to everybody, telling everybody about it and you know, talking with all of the, the people at large with the, with the city.JAC:And I also know that you're from the same place that I'm from. You're from Minnesota and we Minnesotans are hardy stock. We're hard workers. So as soon as I met you and got to know that fact, I figured that it made it a lot of sense that you're going to answer the next question I'm about to ask you the way you're going to answer it. How many businesses do you currently work for or own right now?LJ:Fou. I was counting them. I was like going through the list.JAC:Can you name them and that you do it each?LJ:Yeah, so I obviously am an owner with Shore Club Chicago on North Avenue Beach. I'm the executive director at First in Flight Entertainment and Event Productions, which is the event production festival side of things and entertainment booking and then I am a lead planner and destination wedding planner with Storybook Weddings and Events, and I am the co-owner of Thrive Event Consulting.JAC:So nothing much.LJ:No, I'm. I have a boring life and I sit at home a lot.JAC:You just shared with me before we got started that you grocery shop for the first time yesterday.LJ:Yeah, for like in a month, you know, it's OK. I work at a restaurant. So you use scrap things together.JAC:Absolutely. So let's get down to it. Let's talk about your big goal. Can you tell me about a big goal that you accomplished, how you got there and why it was important to you?LJ:Well, I definitely think that Shore Club is that goal that I've kind of gone after and it's happening. I did not come from a background in, in raising any sort of venture capital; working in restaurants--I like, you know, waited tables in college. That was my extent of it, but you know, I saw this, this place on the beach and I just, I couldn't let it go. I kept, I kept thinking about it and it started in one place and it has grown into something completely different but still in reference to what it started as. And it just develops because you have to, you have to let it go where it's going to go based off of other people's opinions in order to actually make it happen. You have to evolve your plan and I think a lot of that I, I pay a testament to my partners with Shore Club, you know, their background being more on the restaurant and venue side of things.LJ:They really helped guide me on that side of it. My experience in tenting and poppop concepting really helped Shore Club pop up and so, you know, I think just like never giving up and always being able to be flexible in order to make your goal and your dream come true. And I think for me one of the most satisfying moments was last year we did the grand opening of Shore Club on August 14th. We had over 400 people there and like to see 400 people like of, you know, Chicago socialites and, and PR people and people that are working with major news organizations coming to this place. That was just an idea in your head and like to watch them just enjoying themselves and, and celebrating within it. I mean, it was so surreal for me and you know, I'm really excited going into this season about it being even closer to where I wanted it to be and I'm excited for people to enjoy it again this season.JAC:So you talked about the Shore Club being, your big goal and the vision that you had when you first saw this venue. So can you talk me through what your original vision was and how it evolved as you brought on partners and started getting feedback?LJ:Yeah. So as I mentioned before, it was like, I thought it was just going to be an event venue and I was like, oh, we're going to host weddings and corporate parties and like, we'll be closed when we're not rented out, was kind of like what I originally thought. And then from there, you know, learning from the Park District because I didn't know. It's like it had to be a public entity and the way that we did that was was making it into a restaurant. And so with that comes a whole other slew of issues that you have to tackle.LJ:I mean it's exciting, but for me, you know, bringing in my partner Robbie at the time and later on Nick Thayer, you know, it was like, it was going to be just the outdoor space and the tented area. And then it evolved that we have the, it's called the oasis where people can like rent a cabana day bed or sun bed and they can enjoy like bottles of champagne and bottle service out there and like trays of shared foods. And you know, I think that in the beginning it was supposed to be kind of this blank canvas that people would bring in their own stuff and like decorate it the way they want to like an event space, you know, like a ballroom or, or I dunno Shay down on Orleans or whatever. And it's like now it's evolved into this whole place that people come in and they're like, oh wow, you know, like I don't have to bring anything in.LJ:Like it's all here. It's our, it's already decorated. And, and to watch people everyday, like hanging out in the space and having like regulars. It's so bizarre and exciting. You know, I think that a lot of it too for me in the journey was I, I didn't know everything that I was getting into. I just had this end goal idea and, but like the steps to get there, it takes so much more than I knew at the time when I started, you know, going through, you know, meeting with people from the city and going through permitting and going through meeting with the neighborhood committee and like getting everybody's input and like changing your plans so that it can accommodate what their, their goals are because at the end of the day we want the public to be excited about what we're bringing there. So yeah, that's a little bit about how things started in comparison to where they are now.JAC:And I'm interested too, because I know that you studied music in college. I'm interested to hear how you've sort of learned the lessons in business that you've learned that have helped you be so successful.LJ:Well, I think being in music you have to market yourself and nobody's going to get the gigs for you until you're at a certain level. So, you know, it was about, I, I studied opera performance and you know, people would say, oh, it's a dying art. It's like, or, and, and maybe, maybe it is, but for me it was something I was incredibly passionate about and so it was about getting myself out there, doing the research to figure out like where auditions were. Where, you know, for me, I was a soprano so I was looking for companies that were doing productions that would fit my voice, getting out there for summer programs, getting out there, you know, I, I ended up transferring to a conservatory, you know, like what was the best thing for my career and moving forward and I think that it really, it really takes like you learning that you need to support you in your goals and that everybody else's opinion--take it, but also like don't lose sight of what your end goal is and like let, let opinions help guide you, but don't let them dictate where you're going.JAC:That's great advice and I think it's especially great advice for anyone who's taking on money or partners. Which leads me to my next question about a big goal you've accomplished. So how did you pick the partners that were right for you and for Shore Club?LJ:Well, OK. It's a funny story actually being from Minnesota, so I grew up in Coon Rapids, Minnesota and I went to a good Lutheran church as most Minnesotans do and I went to church camp and a very good friend of mine, Noah Kraft who owns Kraft Lighting here in Chicago. We grew up together going to church camp and when I was, when I had moved to Chicago, he lived here too and he does like a lot of lighting and sound installations across the city in like for Lettuce Entertain You venues and and all over. So he was working on a project with Robbie.LJ:So I presented the idea of Shore Club to him because I knew like he wouldn't steal it. And so then he, I was like, so what do I do now? Like I've never raised money. I don't know anything about like entering things into a POS system. I don't know about hiring staff. Like I don't know these things. And so he ended up introducing me to Robbie. He was like, Robbie's a good guy, you know, he will, you know, he'll help you and he'll give you his ideas. And then I had scheduled coffee with Robbie at the Chicago Athletic Association and he was an hour late, but I stayed because I was like, he's my chance. So I stayed there for an hour and he like, called me in a panic and he was like, Oh my God, my Outlook Calendar, something crazy happened. I was like, it's OK.LJ:It's OK. So he came. I presented the idea and like I think that he, you know, he like played it cool. He was like, yeah, yeah, I think it's a, I think it's a good idea. And then afterwards, like I heard this later from, from his wife being like, oh my God, he came back and he was like super amped about the project. Like he tried to play it totally cool. But then through, through Robbie, so you know, we started hitting the ground running and we were working together. There were other people that I thought would be involved then later weren't. And then like through time I feel like it weeds the wrong people out because you just stay dedicated to the goal and if people aren't dedicated then they kind of drop off. And then from there Nick Thayer was like, he texted the wrong Robbie, so he ended up texting Robbie on accident and then they ended up getting together and he told them about Shore Club.LJ:And then Nick was all about it. Then I met nick and then all of us were, we decided to do this together and then you know, to go full circle. Nick and Noah from church camp had worked together previously so everybody knew each other. And so we opened up things. And I think one of the most amazing things about our partnership is that like we each have our thing that we know that we're really good at and we don't get in each other's way, but we'll come to each other if we have, if we have a question and like we have team meetings and say like, OK, what do we think about this? And, and I love having three because it's like, then it's never one against the other, it's like usually somebody agrees with one of them and then we like convince the other ones that we're right or, or that we're wrong, you know, and I think that that has been such a valuable part.LJ:And like Robbie, Nick and I are like, we're also like, we're really good friends. So outside of work, even though that's kind of like, oh all we do and talk about, it's like I also know that like Robbie would have my back and Nick would have my back in, in life in general too. And I think when you have that trust, it just leads itself to being a great place for a business to thrive and grow.JAC:OK. Two rapid fire questions, before we get into your future goals. One, do you still sing?LJ:Yes.JAC:Can you sing a note for us?LJ:Oh, I don't want to do that.JAC:Don't do it. You don't have. As soon as I asked, I was like, that's probably rude. Two: Do you think that someone who is from Minnesota or who is not from Minnesota would have stayed for an hour for that coffee?LJ:Oh man.JAC:I think that's a very Minnesota thing to do.LJ:Yeah. I mean my friend told me he was a good guy. Like I believed him. He was worth the wait and like I just took out my laptop and got some other stuff done and I was like, if he doesn't show he doesn't show, but at least I got some work done in the meantime and then. And then he showed and it was like history. History was writing itself.JAC:And the rest is history. So let's jump in to a big goal you have for the future. So can you talk me through a big goal you hope to accomplish--you've already done so much--and how you plan to get there?LJ:Yeah, so I think that one of my big goals or I guess a collective goal of Robbie, Nick and myself as a, you know, we're, we want to open more places and that's something that's on our horizon.LJ:And I think, you know, we want to get to a place where we're a well established hospitality group here in Chicago and hopefully nationwide and I think that that's something that we're creating a good foundation in making sure that we have kind of all of our bases covered and through the way that the public has just, I dunno, just captured our hearts and just really taken us in as even though we're like new kids on the block, so to say as a group together, I'm excited for what the future has to hold of other endeavors. I think that, you know, the three of us are pretty creative individuals and we're, all three of us are, you know, we're not afraid to get our hands dirty and so I'm excited moving forward of what those other projects are going to be. And yeah, I mean I hope that we open 20 properties someday.JAC:Get to say those big goals aloud.LJ:Yes.JAC:Well thank you Lisa for joining me on the #WeGotGoals podcast. Before we sign off, would you tell me where you want to open next, if you were to open your second location?LJ:We're looking in the loop or in the Fulton Market area.JAC:Hot.LJ:Definitely. I'm a big believer in like go where the people are.JAC:I didn't know what to say then but hot came out, so here we are. Thank you for joining me. It has been a pleasure and you can find Lisa, by the way, at the Shore Club all summer long opening-- announcing tomorrow its fitness lineup, so don't miss that.LJ:Yeah.CK:This podcast was produced by me, Cindy Kuzma, and it's another thing that's better with friends, so please share it with yours. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and if you get a chance to leave us a rating or review while you're there, we would really appreciate it. Special thanks to J. Mano for our theme music; our guest this week, Lisa Jaroscak; and to Moxy Chicago Downtown for hosting our live podcast event.