Crain’s contributor Robert Loerzel brings you news of fresh local startups every Tuesday on Crain’s blog for Chicago entrepreneurs.Venue Cricket: This startup connects event organizers with Chicago venues such as art galleries, churches and car dealerships. “Until now these businesses did not have cost-effective ways of establishing themselves as event venues,” Chief Technology Officer and co-founder Dmitry Grekov says. “Event hosts generally turned to conventional venues like hotels, simply because it would take much more legwork to find the more interesting but lesser-known spaces.” CEO and co-founder Ella Lief came up with the idea when she had trouble finding a good location for an alumni event. “I was surprised that there were no websites similar to Expedia but tailored for the venue search,” she says. Venue Cricket launched this month.Bert Green Fine Art: After 13 years in Los Angeles, this gallery has moved to downtown Chicago. The new gallery at 8 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 1220, will hold a grand opening Saturday for its first exhibit. Bert Green Fine Art exhibits living artists in a variety of styles, with a focus on paintings and works on paper. Owner Bert Green says a personal relationship brought him to Chicago, but he’s also excited to become part of the city’s art scene, which he described as “very strong.” In Los Angeles, Mr. Green was a leader in creating an annual art walk that helped to revive the art scene in the city’s downtown area. His new gallery, inside the Willoughby Tower, is 500 square feet, only one-eighth the size of his former L.A. space, but Mr. Green says he does much of his business through online sales. And if the new gallery is a hit, it’s possible he’ll expand. “I’d call it a starter space,” he says. “I’m starting off small.”Wellfleet: This cafe is open now inside owner Bill Dugan’s Fish Guy Market, a shop and wholesale supplier selling seafood at 4423 N. Elston Ave. in the Mayfair neighborhood. Open for lunch 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. every day except Sunday, Wellfleet serves lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, steamed live scallops in cioppino broth, Cape Beton scallops with brown butter, and monkfish.Urban Union: Seafood cooked in a wood-burning oven is the specialty at this Little Italy restaurant, which opened last week at 1421 W. Taylor St. Run by executive chef/partner Michael Shrader and partner Jason Chan, Urban Union also offers 36 wines by the glass and wines on tap.Blackmark-it: This new Groupon-style website features deals at black-owned businesses in the Chicago area. Current deals featured at the site include two tickets to “Evollove,” a play at Chicago State University, and 50% off on tax preparation at Emerging Business Solutions Group. The Blackmark-it team includes Natasha Williams in sales and public relations, Jamel Williams in technical support and Delandon Mason in field operations.Olive Mediterranean Grill: This Middle Eastern restaurant, where customers can choose the ingredients going into their meals, is open now at 1001 W. North Ave., in the Goose Island neighborhood. It’s the second Olive restaurant to open in Chicago; owner Sirajuddin Syed also runs the Olive at 201 N. Clark St. The menu includes grilled meats, soups and freshly squeezed juices.UPDATE: Baker & Nosh, which we previewed back in October, opened for business Monday at 1303 W. Wilson Ave. in Uptown. Owned by Bill Millholland (a chef Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts), the bakery and cafe sells bread, cheese, sandwiches and coffee. And starting this spring, there will be outdoor seating in the grassy garden patio.
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