Lincolnshire’s Cubby Bear North offers year-round optimism
Lake Zurich resident JoAnne Haseman (left) and Cindy Panagiotaros, of Gurnee, look over auction items at the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association's fund-raiser Saturday at the Cubby Bear in Lincolnshire. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
LINCOLNSHIRE — While is was tough year for baseball on Chicago’s North Side, there was plenty of good happening at the Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire.
Since its debut in 1998, the suburban sister location to the popular sports bar across the street from Wrigley Field has been host to countless fund-raisers for charitable causes and organizations.
The multi-purpose venue’s 40,000 square feet of outdoor and indoor space at 21661 N. Milwaukee Avenue accommodates groups up to 1,500 for private events.
According to manager Becky Mormann, Lincolnshire’s Cubby Bear North books two to three fund-raisers a month.
“A lot of people come because of the Loukas family’s community involvement,” she said. “They’re known for their generosity.”
George Loukas, a Riverwoods resident for three decades yet affably known as “Mayor of Wrigleyville,” owns the Lincolnshire destination, as well as a handful of properties around the Friendly Confines, including the original Cubby Bear.
He and his family emigrated in 1953 from Greece to Chicago, where his father found work as a steelworker.
Loukas took a gamble in 1974 when he began investing in rooftop apartments and bars in the once less desirable North Side neighborhood. Ultimately his decades-long commitment revived the area and created a personal gold mine.
Yet Loukas, who said he benefited from YMCA programs as a young boy, hasn’t forgotten his roots. In addition to managing real estate and entertainment portfolios, he now sits on the board of directors of the North Suburban YMCA.
“I have lived the American dream,” Loukas said. “All my family has gone on to college and found success in our fields.
“It’s my way of giving back to the community.”
Loukas rattled off several memorable events over the years at Cubby Bear North, including fund-raisers for the YMCA, area schools, and the late Steve Pappas, Deerfield’s beloved Hall of Fame high school basketball coach.
It is also a preferred venue for facets of the Greek community, such as Lincolnshire’s Ascension of Our Lord Church and Saints Peter & Paul Church in Glenview.
The Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association hosted its “Mc & Me” fund-raiser there last Saturday night.
The event is named for an assistance dog of Donna Feldman, a Deerfield resident who was left permanently disabled in 1994 after falling on concrete stairs during a business trip.
The minor injury resulted excruciating, chronic pain that began in her left arm and spread through her body. It took 17 doctors to diagnose Feldman with RSSD, a syndrome that affects between 200,000 and 1.2 million Americans, according to the association’s website.
Feldman said her golden retriever McGinnis helped give her a better life.
“I call him my social director because he’s the one who got me out of the house,” she said.
Feldman has organized three fund-raisers for the association over the past decade at Cubby Bear North, partly because of its wheelchair accessibility.
After Saturday’s event Feldman said: “The attendance was small but their hearts were big.”