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Exploring the Future of Long Grove

Two Brothers Building on a Town's History.

Article by Jesse & Aaron DeSota with Michael Beightol

Photography by Michael Beightol

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

In downtown Long Grove there’s a deliberate transformation underway. No, it’s not just the first-ever stoplight or enhanced streetscaping. Instead, two brothers are investing their time and treasure into the place they've chosen to raise their families.

Jesse and Aaron DeSoto grew up in Milwaukee, the sons of a pastor and an entrepreneurial mother. Jesse (the elder brother by three years) says childhood was about athletics and competing against each other.

Today, the brothers operate Fred Astaire Dance Studio and a newer venture called Brothers Field, an outdoor event space in the historic district.

What follows is an abridged version of a recent conversation.

SW Lake (SWL): Why dance?

Jesse DeSoto (JD): Dancing was supposed to be just a summer job when I was 19. Within four years I was the top instructor in the company and nationally ranked. Being an athlete as a kid, not being afraid to train hard and having great coaching made all the difference. I moved to Illinois in 2005, and when Aaron graduated from college, he needed a job. He quickly surpassed me as an instructor and he and his wife, Iryna, became one of the top dancing couples in the country until they retired from competition in 2019.

SWL: What drew you to Long Grove?

Aaron DeSoto (AD): When we met other businesses we discovered an infectious love for this little downtown. Although Long Grove may have seemed down on its luck when we relocated our studio from Buffalo Grove, we felt drawn to joining the broader effort by the community to bring it back.

JD: We purchased buildings and land in a package deal and knew one building would become the new dance studio. All told, with about 20,000 square feet of neglected property, we had our work cut out for us. In 2019 we made the decision to demolish some of the space since it would have been too costly to bring it all up to code. When the pandemic started, we were left in an empty village with a green field in front of us.

SWL: How did that experience give way to the creation of Brothers Field?

AD: Some days we’d have a bonfire and listen to music. Then residents would walk by – masked and all – saying hello. We realized a community was forming. We hosted a movie with everyone masked and physically spaced out per the requirements, and it was a big hit. And that was how it started. Now with our general manager, Bradley Oberrieder, we have a Tiki Bar, special events, music, food trucks and more. The three of us are planning on opening a brick-and-mortar kitchen to expand our food and drink operations.

JD: We are working diligently to carve out a permanent place for Brothers Field in the village we call home. Admittedly, we have thought of giving up due to some opposition, but the community and residents are extremely supportive and continue to cheer us on as our whole team works to make Brothers Field a permanent feature in our great little town.

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