In recent weeks, a slick-looking website raising concerns over the proposed River North location of Chicago's first iteration of Arizona-based Bottled Blonde has surfaced. The residents behind saynotobottledblonde.com have worries about noise and signage at the former home of SushiSamba Rio. The group behind the site wants a meeting with restaurant management to air their concerns before plans finalize.
The head of the group, David Shiba, is president of the Contemporaine Condo Association, which represents the 28-unit building at 201 W. Grand Ave. The structure neighbors the Bottle Blonde property at 504 N. Wells St. After seeing photos of Bottle Blonde's other locations, Shiba described the restaurant as "an amped-up version of Hooters," worrying that the business won't blend well with the rest of the area.
"The deal with an establishment like this, is that there's a much more heavier focus on consumption of booze," Shiba said.
There were problems with SushiSamba, Shiba said, as live music created noise complaints from residents. The Arizona-based group didn't return an email seeking comment, and their parent company Evening Entertainment Group, failed to return a phone call. The would-be chain debuted in 2014 in Scottsdale, Ariz. featuring beer, pizza and DJs, bringing club elements to the sports bar scene.
While the website's name, "Say No To Bottled Blonde," may suggest otherwise, Shiba isn't absolute. He wants the opportunity to speak with Bottled Blonde ownership. He doesn't want to see lavish signage and wants the restaurant to work with the community. They've collected about 150 signatures via an online petition, and Shiba, who has a background in digital marketing (which explains the professional-looking website), is submitting that to Ald. (42nd Ward) Brendan Reilly's office. Reilly's office didn't return message for comment, but Shiba says Reilly's office told him they'll make work toward brokering that meeting.
Will the Bottled Blonde play nice and be a good neighbor? Or do the neighbors have a right to meet with management? Bottled Blonde is due to open later this year.