Julia’s Story


Julia Zhu was … a Banker. At a big bank that starts with a “C”. For 18 years. Yet her dream had always been to open a restaurant. Although her boyfriend had a dramatically successful track-record in the restaurant business, her big bank (the one that starts with a “C” and for whom she toiled for 18 years) said … “No” when she asked for a loan.

Well, Julia knew Lakeside. And came to the bank. We knew how to listen. And evaluate. In a matter of weeks, Julia had a loan from Lakeside to not only open the restaurant, but to buy the building. And Lakeside also provided a separate line of credit to cover start-up costs and employee salaries the first few months. Julia’s restaurant is called Bar Roma. It opened in December of 2016. To a snowstorm. But they still had 67 people. By night four, they had a wait list. By March 2017, Bar Roma was on Chicago Magazine’s “Top Ten Hottest New Restaurant List”. And based on February and March (notoriously slow months in the restaurant business), Julia has happily increased her Year 1 revenue forecast by 33%. And is very happy with Lakeside Bank. Just as her neighbors are very happy with Bar Roma!

In both banking and the restaurant business, it’s as simple, and as hard, as Personal Service. At Lakeside, clients call their one Lakeside Banker. They have his or her cell number. While this sounds clichéd, in a field that’s become increasingly automated and one where you rarely talk to the same banker twice, Lakeside is a client-pleasing anomaly. Old school where it counts. High tech throughout. But technology as a tool, not a way to treat clients.

Which is just the way Julia Zhu treats her clients. Like friends. Who are rapidly making Bar Roma their favorite restaurant. And Bar Roma’s now open for Sunday brunch, too. Come check it out at 5101 N. Clark Street. It’s a delicious taste of Roman cooking on Chicago’s north side. We recommend you call for a reservation. And tell Julia all of us at Lakeside say hello. (Actually, you may see us at Bar Roma, too!)