Dads have the magic touch. They turn roughhousing into an art form, have an unending arsenal of silly faces and can make tears dry with a single smooch. Chicago is full of cool dads and we want you to meet a few. Get to know a trend-setting store owner, longtime improv actor, restaurant and bar tastemaker, baby-business entrepreneur and other fellows that do their families — and Chicago — proud.

Peter Toalson

At Wandawega, an old-timey Wisconsin lake resort, Toalson hit the archery range with his son, Levi (4). Back in Chicago, he hits the film, food and art scene in his job as a partner at concept and project development studio Land and Sea. Recently, the studio debuted a documentary film ("Sign Painters" at Logan Theater) and opened a restaurant (Parson's Chicken & Fish). Toalson also has ownership in Green Bean Day School & Nursery in Lincoln Park, which is known for its ecofriendly practices. He and his wife, Nicole, live in East Garfield Park. While as a small business owner, Peter doesn't have regular days, his joy of being a parent is constant. "I hope to be a strong example to Levi and have him grow up knowing anything is achievable and attainability can be had fairly and honestly," says Peter.

Do you know a Chicago Cool Dad? Let us know about him! Leave your nomination in the Comments section below, or email

— Story by Kelly Aiglon