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Ousted Pilsen Juice Bar’s Owner Urges Locals to Avoid New Market

Belli’s owner Alex Curatolo says that residents who “care about small business” shouldn’t support the new Paulette’s Market

Belli’s first opened in Pilsen in 2013.
Belli’s [Official Photo]

The owner of a Pilsen juice bar urged locals who ‘care about small business’ to avoid a new market from the owners of Thalia Hall in a Facebook post this week. Paulette’s Public Market, a one-stop shop and deli operated by by Phil Baber (Dusek’s Board & Beer, Longman & Eagle), opened on Thursday at 1221 W. 18th Street in the space formerly occupied by Belli’s. After five years in business, the juice bar and market was ousted from the location in 2018 when 16” on Center decided not to renew the lease, Block Club reported.

“After realizing that my former space would be transformed into a very similar concept to what I made Belli’s (a local food and specialty market serving seasonal dishes) I was, of course, upset,” Alex Curatolo of Belli’s wrote in an email. “I made that post because I believe Bruce [Finkelman] and 16” on Center have now started to capitalize on small businesses and deceive the public. They are by no means a small business and have hurt my small business, which I sacrificed six years of my life for, as well as other small businesses that have reached out to me after reading my story.”

We are saddened to see a similar concept take over Belli’s old space. The decision to not renew our lease has cost us...

Posted by Belli's on Monday, July 29, 2019

Though all businesses make difficult economic decisions, Curatolo contends that small businesses can make choices that benefit the community, like cutting margins so neighbors can afford to buy a smoothie or offering discounts for students and seniors. “We don’t all aim for maximum profitability in our business decisions like 16” on Center, and Belli’s (and other small businesses) are proof that you can still survive and operate as a business without having to do so... I wish Phil and Amanda the best, and hope Bruce and Craig [Golden] find some enlightenment.”

Paulette’s Public Market is named for Baber’s mother, who frequently took him to Atlanta’s Dekalb Farmers Market as a child. The market features retail items and seasonal dishes from chef Amanda Torres. Curatolo and Baber formerly worked together at Dusek’s, according to Curatolo.

16” on Center provided a statement but declined to directly address the issues Curatolo raised or her call for neighbors to avoid Paulette’s Market.

“As partners in Paulette’s Public Market, 16” On Center is excited to share how immensely proud we are of Phil Baber for bringing his longtime dream of owning a chef-driven neighborhood market & gourmet sandwich deli to life with the help of Chef Amanda Torres,” representatives for 16” on Center wrote in an email.

“Anyone who has had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Phil will tell you he’s an amazingly warm, kind and talented individual with a proven track record in hospitality. The vision for this concept is one that’s personal to him, and both he and Amanda are Pilsen residents. We could not be more excited to support them both as they take on this opportunity.”

Paulette’s Public Market is now open in Pilsen.

Paulette’s Public Market, 1221 W. 18th Street, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Sunday.

Thalia Hall

1807 South Allport Street, , IL 60608 (312) 526-3851 Visit Website


1850 South Blue Island Avenue, , IL 60608 (312) 307-7305 Visit Website