Honors Tom Alves & Bob Burcenski
We we’re pleased to honor Tom Alves and Bob Burcenski as the 2023 recipients of the Gratitude Award from the Community Foundation of Will County
The Community Foundation of Will County Gratitude Award recognizes individuals in Will County who exemplify excellence in their town through their generosity, charitable efforts and support. The Community Foundation of Will County is proud to honor Jim and Stacy Holland, recipients of our Gratitude Award, while celebrating another year of advancing a culture of philanthropy in Will County.
The mission of The Community Foundation of Will County is to promote philanthropy, connect donors to community needs, and build partnerships to improve the quality of life in our region. Our priority areas include health, education, human services, and the arts.
2023 Photo Gallery
Gratitude Award Honoree
Tom Alves was born and raised in Joliet in 1948. He graduated from Lewis University in1970, double majoring in Music and History. Tom taught music for 15 years and was organist at various churches for over twenty years. Tom caught the preservation bug in the early 70’s, working as a “picker” for antiques shops in Chicago. In 1981, Chef Bob and Tom opened Tallgrass restaurant, and then in 1987 they opened the Public Landing Restaurant in the Gaylord Building. When not working, Tom has traveled extensively in Europe attending various wine symposiums and plenty of wine tastings. His wine list is known for the depth and great pricing of his cellar.
Gratitude Award Honoree
Bob Burcenski was born in Chicago in 1948, and from ten days old was raised in Lockport. Bob earned his B.F.A. in Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University in 1970, and his M.F.A. from Governors State University in 1978. Multitalented Bob was organist at 1st Presbyterian Church for 24 years, taught art for 12 years and been the Chef/Owner of Tallgrass for 42 years. In 1995 Bob received the RichardDriehaus Preservation Award from Landmarks of Illinois for the restoration of Tallgrass, the McDonald Building and the Norton Bldg. all in Lockport’s Historic District.
Currently, he is restoring five acres of old growth Oak trees, Wetlands and forest returning the property to what it was two hundred years ago. When Bob isn’t working on various projects, he can be found painting, playing the piano or throwing pottery. He spends as much time in France as he can. France is the inspiration that has made Bob’s cuisine honored in Chicago, New York and France.
In 1995, Tom and Chef Bob were honored with the Richard Driehaus Preservation Award for restoration of Tallgrass, the McDonald building and the Norton Building. He has been on the Heritage and Architecture Commission and other preservation committees for the city of Lockport for 40 years.