About The Frunchroom

The Frunchroom is a quarterly South Side reading series brought to you by Scott Smith –  a resident of Beverly/Morgan Park – and The Beverly Area Arts Alliance.

Our next show is Thursday, April 13th at 730pm at the Beverly Arts Center (2407 W. 111th, St., Chicago).

Each evening of The Frunchroom features five stories about the South Side of Chicago, often from South Siders, but also from those throughout Chicago who’ve experienced all that this part of the city has to offer.

In short, we try to represent all of the South Side, the stories that don’t often make headlines but represent the point of view of people who live here. We want to contribute to Chicago’s live lit scene by featuring writers, readers, artists and performers who are from the South Side or have something to say about it through personal stories, sharp commentary or historical perspective.

Hosted and co-produced by Morgan Park resident Scott Smith, The Frunchroom has played to packed houses since it began in April 2015. Previous readers run the gamut from reporters and writers (Lolly Bowean, Peter Nickeas, Natalie Y. Moore, Jen Sabella) to local residents (Frank Williams, Lendon Sadler, Tim Baffoe, Troy LaRaviere), business owners (John Brand of Open Outcry, Lisa Wilberding of The Quilter’s Trunk, Carly Carney of Beverly Yoga Studio) and community builders (Chicago Beyond’s Nneka Jones Tapia, MBMHMC’s Jamal Cole).

The FrunchroomWe’ve had radio and TV personalities like Sound Opinions’ Jim DeRogatis and WGN-TV’s Robin Baumgarten. We also host authors and poets like Kevin Coval (“A People’s History of Chicago”), Eve Ewing (“Electric Arches”), Nate Marshall (“Wild Hundreds”), Angela Jackson, Dennis Foley (“The Blue Circus”) and Clare Hartfield (“A Few Red Drops”) as well as politicians like Illinois State Rep. Celina Villanueva, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer and 10th ward alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza.

For a good overview of what we’re all about, read this review from South Side Weekly or this article from the Daily Southtown about our 2nd anniversary shows.

Previous shows can be found on The Frunchroom podcast available via iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and TuneIn.

We’ve been around for a little more than four years and have grown a bit bigger each year. We started out at O’Rourke’s Office then moved to Beverly Woods. Our current shows are at the Beverly Arts Center. We’re proud to call the neighborhood of Morgan Park home.

Why “The Frunchroom?”

The “frunchroom” is a colloquialism formed when the words “front room” collide with the glorious Chicago accent. When your living room is the first thing your guests see when they walk in your house, that’s your front room.

We wanted a name that evoked the sense of community found in Chicago, particularly the diversity of its South Side neighborhoods. We wanted people to think of a place where family and friends gather to tell stories, have a drink, crack jokes, argue about politics, discuss art and otherwise enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company.

That’s what we want The Frunchroom to be. But unlike other frunchrooms, you won’t need to take your shoes off first.

Frunchroom press
Selected coverage of The Frunchroom:

January 2018
Beverly Review: “The Frunchroom set for first event of 2018

October 2017
Crain’s Chicago Business: “Beverly sees big increase in home sales

Meanwhile, new arts and social groups and new businesses have “brought a new energy into Beverly” in the past few years, said Francine Benson Garaffo, an @properties agent who has lived in next door Morgan Park for 29 years.

The neighborhood now has two breweries and a meadery (a meadery makes honey drinks, or mead), the three-year-old Beverly Area Arts Alliance, which hosts an early October Art Walk through the neighborhood, and the Frunchroom series of spoken-word performances.

September 2017
DNA Info Chicago: “The Frunchroom moves to Beverly Arts Center

April 2017
Daily Southtown: “Frunchroom event showcases South Side stories

What began as a small gathering grew to a quarterly event of about 150 people who come to hear speakers read stories, share insights, and entertain around a theme of South Side places and perspectives. Those speakers have included reporters, writers, local business owners, college professors and poets.

Beverly Review: “The Frunchroom set for third anniversary readings

June 2016
DNA Info: “The Frunchroom set to make Beverly Woods debut

December 2015
Southtown Star, “Variety marks group’s events

“We’ve had painters and artists who’ve told stories about everything from hanging out at Evergreen Plaza to exploring the South Side by bike. There’s something special about the experience of being on the South Side, but in many cases the media shows a negative side to our area.

“We have people come from a variety of backgrounds and creative endeavors. Sometimes we have serious talks — we had someone speak about segregation on the South Side — and humorous ‘fish-out-of-water’ tales from people who moved here from elsewhere. It’s just really important that we develop something for the neighborhood.”

“This is a little bit like gathering the funniest, smartest people in your family and sitting down with drinks and telling stories.

April 2015: 
DNA Info Chicago: “The Frunchroom draws standing-room crowd for inaugural reading series

South Side Weekly (review): “New reading series The Frunchroom comes to the South Side

Yet Smith’s goals for The Frunchroom also include diversity, not just in the types of stories told and who’s telling them, but also in the neighborhoods the audience hails from. The Frunchroom is a reading series by and about the South Side, but also seeks to attract an audience from other parts of Chicago. Smith wants, he said, “to show people all the different parts of the South Side, what it really is beyond what they may have heard in headlines or on television news. I think the idea that the South Side is of one particular type or one particular spirit is just silly.”

March 2015
Beverly Review: “Arts Alliance events to thrill local eyes, ears

For inquiries about The Frunchroom, email producer Scott Smith at ourmaninchicago at gmail.com.

All photos courtesy of Holly Evanchik Donovan.

Former Frunchroom readers

April 2015
Jen Sabella
Dmitry Samarov
Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs
Natalie Y. Moore
Chuck Sudo

July 2015
Evan F. Moore
Scott Smith
Jeff Danna
Mikki Kendall
Shay DeGrandis

September 2015
Erin J. Shea
Jaime Black
Carly Carney
Mario Smith

January 2016
Lolly Bowean
James Finn Garner
Andrew Huff
Grace Kuikman
Mario D. Parker

April 2016 (1st Anniversary Show)
Tim Baffoe
Elaine Hegwood Bowen
Bill Savage
Angel Simmons
Carrie Williams

July 2016 – First Beverly Woods show
Leah Chibe
Kelly Norman Ellis
Bill Leslie
Peter Nickeas

September 2016
Eve Ewing
Katy Jacob
Sheila Maloney
Eileen O’Connor
Mare Swallow

January 2017
L.D. Barnes
Robin Baumgarten
John Chatz
Jamie Nesbitt Golden
Eric Charles May

April 2017 – 2nd Anniversary Shows
Kim Bellware
Jahmal Cole
Kevin Coval
Ayana Contreras
Tom Cramer
Comm. Bridget Gainer
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza
Daniel Kay Hertz
Lendon Sadler
Rodney Walker

July 2017
Amara Eniya
Cole Lavalais
Kathleen Leahy
Lyletta Robinson
Nareman Taha
Ernest Wilkins

September 2017 – First Beverly Arts Center show
Tina Jenkins Bell
Parneshia Jones
Francine McKenna
Troy LaRaviere
Marisa Novara

January 2018
Aaron Cynic
Kelly Wickham Hurst
Nate Marshall
Audrey Peeples and Ronne Hartfield
Amy Wiegert

April 2018 – 3rd Anniversary Show
Colleen Hart-Kozubowski
Tamar Manasseh
Edward McClelland
Ricardo Muñoz
Claire Zulkey

July 2018
Lily Be
Dave Daruszka
Sahar Mustafah
Joe Shanahan
Celina Villanueva

September 2018
Pat Frazier
Rayshauna Gray
Claire Hatfield
Rebeca Nieves Huffman
LaShawn Williams

January 2019
Dennis Foley
Angela Jackson
Nneka Jones Tapia
Preston Thomas
Lisa Wilberding

April 2019
John Brand
Kambium Buckner (rescheduled)
Griselda Garibay
Tim Samuelson
Frank Williams

July 2019
Kathy Benson
Whitney Capps
James Gordon
Jim DeRogatis
John Tolley

September 2019
Veronica Arreola
Lee Bey
Karen Clanton
Don Hayner
Evelyn Venegas

January 2020
Ada Cheng
Lisa Colleen
Tonika Johnson
Madeline O’Malley
Jessica Scheller

Summer 2020
The Frunchroom Summertime Staying Home Sessions featuring past storytellers on Zoom

July 2022
Adrienne Gibbs
Rayshauna Gray
Bill Savage
Jen Sabella
Claire Zulkey

September 2022
Tara Betts
Rebecca Healy
Dion McGill
Joe Meno
Psalm One

6 Responses to About The Frunchroom

  1. Pamela Holt says:

    Hey Scott, sounds great. So just a little more about the phrase Reading Series. As in book club-esk or reading from….or theme of the month regarding topics. Just wondering. Or is it for communal hanging out. All good, just getting clarity. Pam Holt

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scott Smith says:

    Hi Pamela. I’m envisioning a quarterly (we won’t be monthly yet) theme with all the readers performing pieces with their interpretation of it. And then some communal hanging out before, during and after.


  3. Kathleen Dewan says:

    Can you please provide more information about the podcast when it is ready?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Graham Grady says:

    Please add me to your email list. As a native of the Southside (West Chesterfield) and a connoisseur of our unique culture, I am quite interested in attending your programs. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s