Even if you’re new to my blog, or new to knowing me, it won’t take you long to know that I have a thing for people who go after their dreams.
Just over a year ago, Northbrook’s Karen Firsel took a gamble on a career change (Jar Bar celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 2!). After years as one of the top producers on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Karen pursued a dream that was truly the culmination of her life experiences. She opened the most Instagrammable hot spot in Northbrook—Jar Bar.
“Jar Bar really is the brain child of my life in general,” Karen says. “I grew up in a Kosher home where my mother cooked all of the time, so I have always loved food, cooking, and the community of food.”
On Karen’s 40th birthday, she threw herself a birthday party where she prepared a meal for 16 of her closest friends.
“I made everyone a salad and served them in jars,” she explains. “My friends were crazy for them and kept saying, ‘you should do something like this–you should have a restaurant.’ Of course, I told them they were nuts.”
But it wasn’t long before Karen couldn’t ignore the nudges from her friends any longer and she began to believe that she should open a restaurant.
“I realized that there was a real void in the suburbs of forward-thinking food that families who used to live in the city were used to accessing,” she says.
What resulted is a trend-setting restaurant on a coveted corner of Northbrook serving delicious dishes you must photograph before you eat.
My daughter and I are both huge fans of Jar Bar (we love the avocado toasts and poke bowls!), where you feel really good about what you’re eating. While only the salads, overnight oats, and cakes come in jars–the menu Karen wrote two years before opening Jar Bar is still what her customers love today.
While Karen says the learning curve has been high in opening her cutting-edge eatery, she continues to grow her online and catering presence. And asked if she would do it again, she is emphatic that she absolutely would. “Maybe everyone has their 180-turn at some point in their lives and this is mine,” she says. “I’m totally happy I did it. The vision of who we are, we need this here. We need it as a beacon as I want Jar Bar to be a community place. To see people having meetings here or catching up over coffee makes me so happy.”
The Jar Bar is located at 1350 Shermer Road in Northbrook, 847.715.9367.