Q&A with Andrew Nast and Adam Clabaugh, founders of the beautiful new Brick & Mortar co-working space in Park Ridge
Brick & Mortar
11 N. Northwest Highway in Park Ridge
Q: When and how did you come up with the idea of bringing a co-working space to Park Ridge?
A: We had both been living in downtown Chicago for the better part of the last 10 years, where we had worked out of a number of co-working spaces while we launched different businesses over the years. But once our families started growing (I have two girls ages 5 and 3, and Adam has two boys ages 4 and 2) we made the decision to get out of the city — and Park Ridge was the obvious first choice.
However, as awesome as Park Ridge was, we were still finding ourselves spending 2-3 hours a day commuting to the city to work — which honestly was just way too much time away from our families for us. So, we started looking for co-working options closer to Park Ridge to move our company’s headquarters.
After searching for what felt like forever, we were never able to find anything that came close to matching the kind of space we were used to working at in the West Loop. We figured other folks might have been experiencing the same problem, so we decided we’d just build it ourselves.
Q: You have a beautiful, modern space. How was the process of transforming an Italian restaurant over to the exact layout you wanted?
A: Thanks so much for the kind words! We had an awesome team working on the transformation (much of the design came from the amazing women over at Goesling Group, and our company, Blue Collar, handled the renovation, etc.), so that made it fun to show up on the project every day.
Anytime you renovate a building with this much history, there are always fun surprises along the way — and usually not the good kind. But we continued running into these cool little situations we never expected to have when we started the project.
For instance, we kept having folks who had some connection to the building (maybe they met their significant other there, or had a bridal shower, etc.) stop by and knock on the door to see if they could take a piece of it away with them to remember that time — a light fixture, a sign or whatever.
We also had this huge brick oven that I guess had been shipped over from Italy and built on site. The thing weighed like two tons, and we had no idea how we were going to get it out of the building. But then this group of Chicago firefighters showed up, took the whole thing apart brick by brick and hauled it off because they wanted a pizza oven in their firehouse! Just lots of cool stuff like that made the whole project pretty special.
Q: What can local residents and businesses expect when they walk in the door?
A: An eye-catching extension of home with all the same conveniences and more, minus the distractions. If you’re looking to flip open a laptop and crush some work, you can conveniently park and walk in the door to immediately get productive. The motivating atmosphere helps accomplish more than what could get done at home or even a coffee shop.
If you need to coordinate a meeting or private event, the desired space can simply be reserved electronically — trusting that all attendees will be blown away with their experience. The space truly has it all, and with most of the furniture on wheels, creative layout reconfiguration allows us to accommodate just about any group.
We’re comfortable, functional and aesthetically on the edgier side. The idea is to provide as many conveniences as possible, allowing members and guests to focus on what matters most to them at that time.
Q: Describe the meeting spaces you have. They seem ideal… both comfortable and functional at the same time.
A: That is certainly the goal: comfortable, functional and aesthetically on the edgier side. The idea is to provide as many conveniences as possible, allowing members and guests to focus on what matters most to them at that time.
From soundproof phone booths on each level to filtered hot and chilled water stations to TVs hooked up with Apple TV and even cold brew coffee on tap, getting down to business and maintaining that focus is our primary objective.
Q: Finish this sentence: Post-Covid, we can’t wait to…
A: Be able to host events at the space. We know that there is a ton of value in having a flexible workspace close to home to allow people to get out of the house and be really productive without having to lose hundreds of hours a year to a commute. But we think what is potentially even more valuable is giving people the opportunity to be a part of a vibrant business community where they can make meaningful connections, support other members of the community, and maybe even learn new skills they wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to.
Having a place to sit and get productive work done is great. Tapping into a community of like-minded people who are excited about moving their lives and careers forward in big ways — that’s how we can make a real difference.