For the first time, business communities from the north and south sides of Wheaton can eat, drink, dance and mingle in the street at the first annual Wheaton Outdoor Office Block Party on Front Street Wednesday, Jun. 29.
Mike Burke, manager at The Bank Restaurant, came up with the idea for the event with hopes to give Wheaton workers a chance to "connect and relax after a stressful work day—what I believe we’ve all been having.
"We can kick back, have a drink and some food, listen to some music and maybe dance ... just have a good time,” Burke said.
Rock cover band Person 2 Person, featuring Wheaton resident Joe Cuttone on bass, will perform 70s and 80s hits at the event, and Matthew Whiteford, a Jim Beam-sponsored national champion BBQ cook, will serve his pulled pork appetizers and sell his gourmet BBQ products.
Burke partnered with the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Wheaton Association to make his idea a reality. Noel Weidman of the Downtown Wheaton Association described the block party as "an appreciation party (for Wheaton employees) ... like a business after hours.
“It is a mix of both a social atmosphere with opportunities to network with other businesses,” Weidman explained. She added that the party will give the Danada business community an opportunity to mingle with the downtown Wheaton business community.
“Maybe some people who work [on the south side of town] don’t know much about the places downtown ... this is a way for everyone to get to know each other and be involved in one event,” she said.
The proceeds of the First Annual Wheaton Outdoor Office Block Party will benefit the Peoples Resource Center and the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, which was important to all of the event's creators.
Bob Adams, president of the board of the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, said the shelter would use money from the event to upgrade a computer for residents.
"We are very grateful ... We promise to put the money to good use," he said. He added that the business community in downtown Wheaton is aware of the shelter's presence and is "super supportive ... They believe in what we're doing."
So far, two sponsorships have been secured for the event, which will cost a total of $6,000, according to Burke. Without revealing any names, he said that "one of Wheaton's biggest companies," and a wine sponsor have purchased the only sponsorships so far.
Though sponsorship may not take off this year, Burke's plan is to make the event annual. “Ideally, if we sell enough sponsorships … we will raise $20,000. But we are behind schedule,” hee said.
Kerry O'Brien, member relations manager at the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber, the DWA and the Bank hope to at least cover the cost of the event and make enough money to give a "good amount to the charities."
With a Wheaton native playing onstage and another Wheaton native feeding the crowd, Burke has kept with his goal of putting together a truly local event. “I wanted local Wheaton organizations and charities involved … It sealed the deal that a Wheaton guy manages the band,” he said.
“This is a true Wheaton block party," he said.
The Wheaton Office Block Party will be on Front Street between Hale and Main at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jun. 29. Tickets are $20 if purchased online and $25 at the event (order 10 or more for $17.50 apiece). Tickets get patrons an appetizer, two drink tickets and a raffle ticket.