Meet Berwyn’s Entrepreneurs: Christine Tully Aranza of Autre Monde Café & Spirits
Meet Christine Tully Aranza of Autre Monde Café & Spirits (6727 W Roosevelt Rd, Berwyn), est. 2011
Hometown: Oak Park, IL
Current Residence: Berwyn, IL
All about Christine: I’m Christine, originally an Oak Park-er, now a Berwynite! An Alum of Dominican University, I have my Bachelors in Business Management and Marketing and my Masters from the University of Chicago. I’ve always been a creative-minded, artistic person, which has served me well through my career in the restaurant biz. I’ve been involved in a variety of restaurant-centric roles since my college days; I’ve worked in Chicago with some of the most wonderful chefs and operators in the business, such as Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia, Shawn McClain and John Hogan, plus an amazing array of front-of-house talents that helped me sharpen my skills. It’s important to say in this business that many of my mentors were also women!
I have a passion for traveling and a love of food and wine that makes this business a natural fit for me. It has been especially rewarding to take a blighted building and turn it into a destination restaurant in the community where I grew up. When my husband and business partner, John, and I first came across our building, it became clear that this was the moment. The support we received from Berwyn and the BDC was the deciding factor in our locating here and taking this project from dream to reality. Our location on Roosevelt Road has been the perfect place to bring together several local communities on a regular basis. There’s nothing more gratifying than being able to create a gathering place where you can host old friends and make new ones.
The Business Side: In 2010, Christine and her husband John purchased a small storefront with the idea of collaborating with their business partners, culinary wizards Dan Pancake & Beth Partridge to bring a city-style dining experience to the Near West Suburbs.
After a complete build out of a blighted space in Berwyn’s Roosevelt corridor, Autre Monde was launched in June 2011 to great acclaim and Christine has been responsible for continually setting the mission of the restaurant and overseeing its direction, green initiatives, events & special offerings as well as helming operations for the restaurant. Since opening, the restaurant has received much recognition, highlights include a Green Restaurant Certification (Berwyn’s first) from Green Seal, 3 stars from the Chicago Tribune & Sun Times, 4 stars from Time Out Chicago, an Outstanding Restaurant Award from the Chicago Tribune, a Michelin Bib Gourmand and personally Christine has been recognized alongside her husband, by Berwyn with the George B. Ashby Award for Business Excellence and the BDC’s President’s Award for Business Leadership.
Describe yourself in three words.
I’m driven, passionate and creative, three things that really roll together. In the restaurant industry, if you aren’t self-motivated with a curiosity of bringing new things to people, your business won’t thrive. You always have to keep reworking and reinventing, which is something I’m passionate about as a business owner—keeping things fresh. Being able to integrate creativity into every layer of business is important, too, from the décor to the menu and the beverage program to the types of events we offer the community. I’m constantly challenging myself to tap into my creative side and work it into all corners of our business.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by go-getters who know how to turn their dreams into a reality. Other entrepreneurs inspire me with their drive and passion. Seeing others’ dedication to their crafts really re-energizes me and encourages me to not only work hard but also to help others achieve their goals.
Tell us something people might not know about you.
My side passion is photography, especially food photography. I do a lot of shots for the restaurant. I produced a cookbook for Spiaggia early on in my career and I’ve loved photography and coordinating images ever since. Photography has allowed me to express the narrative of Autre Monde in a way that’s not only intriguing to customers but also satisfying to me personally.
What is your fondest memory?
My fond memories come from time spent with my dad growing up; it’s hard to pick just one! He was a very personable guy and great company. We had a summer home in northern Wisconsin and one time, on the 8-hour drive home, we sang the entire way back. It’s memories like those that I really cherish.
If we were to hang out, what would we do?
We would go out for a great dinner at Le Bouchon, a little bistro that’s been around for 20 years. It’s cozy and intimate, the food is always spot on and it’s a great place for having an epic conversation. We’d enjoy each other’s company and chat about anything and everything. I would order for us.
What are you most passionate about?
Depends on the day – I love learning and tend to dig into whatever has my attention at the moment. I’m in the middle of renovating our kitchen at home, so I’m all things kitchen right now. There’s an art to designing a room in your home. It’s going to be a fun spring project!
What is the longest word you know?
Which time period would you visit in history?
I LOVE the 1940’s. There were loads of great clothes for women and it was a time when they were uniquely equal to men before the 1950’s hit. The women had moxie, you have to love that!
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
I’d love to say someone like Leonardo da Vinci or Marcus Aurelius, but in truth someone extremely witty like Oscar Wilde would probably be more my speed. You never know who would be good company, but there’s just something about Wilde that makes me think we’d have great conversation…someone you’d take to Le Bouchon!