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Eater Chicago’s Top Stories of 2017

Remember The Upside Down and Bottled Blonde?

The Upside Down pop-up.
Marc Much
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

cShutters weren’t the only thing that dominated Chicago’s restaurant news in 2017. An eclectic pop-up bar, a bizarre dress code, and the firing of high-profile chef were among the most-read stories of the year. These are Eater Chicago’s top posts, excluding maps, for 2017. For a trip farther down memory lane, check out the top stories of 2016 over here.

1) Emporium’s Stranger Things Pop-Up

Upside Down
The Stranger Things pop-up
Marc Much

The hottest bar in Chicago this year may have been in Logan Square where fans of Netflix’s Stranger Things walked through a shrine to the TV show. Emporium Arcade Bar scored a bonafide hit with their pop-up. However, it was unlicensed. That didn’t make Netflix attorneys happy who released a playful letter urging Emporium not to continue the pop-up past its announced closing. It was a very clever way of implying a cease and desist mandate.

2) Grace Officially Closes

Former Grace GM Michael Muser and chef Curtis Duffy
Jason Little

The news may be only a week old, but readers were shocked when Grace closed. Restaurants as acclaimed or decadent as Grace don’t abruptly close very often. Superstar chef Curtis Duffy left the three-Michelin-starred restaurant, and kitchen staff walked out effectively ending Grace’s five-year reign in the West Loop.

3) Bottled Blonde’s Racist Dress Code

Bottled Blonde
Bottled Blonde [Official Photo]

The bar’s fate remains undecided, but before city officials ruled to revoke the River North bar’s liquor license, a Reddit user posted a sign hung outside Bottled Blonde with a controversial dress code that used coded speech that often targets African Americans. The sign hasn’t been seen at the bar since it was blasted throughout the country.

4) Publican Restaurants Fire Chef Cosmo Goss

Cosmo Goss
Marc Hauser

One Off Hospitality Group, one of the most-successful restaurant companies in Chicago, fired Cosmo Goss, the executive chef of its Publican restaurants. One Off claimed Goss failed to take proper action after a female employee said another workers was sharing an inappropriate photo of her. Goss also acknowledged mistakes were made. The story is a microcosm of 2017, as women were empowered to speak up about harassment and inappropriate workplace incidents. The story will continue into 2018 as One Off has a deal to work with Goss on a new River North restaurant, Pacific Standard Time. There’s no news on how they’ll handle the situation.

5) Chicago is Getting a Nutella Cafe

Nutella Cafe
Nick Fochtman

The hype was uncontrollable over the summer when Nutella announced that Chicago would be the home of its first standalone cafe. When the cafe opened, lines wrapped around the building near Millennium Park. It didn’t matter that customers could already feast on all the Nutella they craved inside Eataly, which houses its own counter serving crepes and other items featuring the hazelnut spread.

6) Inside The Nutella Cafe

Nutella fans were sated in 2017.
Nick Fochtman

Tourists, families, and Nutella fanatics who couldn’t wait in those long lines found consolation by peering through this gallery of interior photos.

7) Racist White Starbucks Customer Attacks a Black Customer

William Boucher
Cook County sheriff’s office

This racially motivated crime was captured on video at a downtown Starbucks where William Boucher had a racist outburst. He yelled slurs at customers and called them slaves inside the coffee shop. He then punched a man outside the shop. The man was taken to the hospital, but didn’t suffer serious injuries. The 24-year-old was eventually charged with felony hate crimes and his court case continues.

8) Nic’s Organic Fast Food Debuts in Chicago’s Suburbs

Nic’s Organic Fast Food
Nick Fochtman/Eater Chicago

A new fast-food chain debuted in Rolling Meadows, and Chicagoans were curious. Nic’s Organic Fast Foods has a higher price point compared to other fast-food restaurants. However, its owners promise better quality. They’ve got more plans for more suburban locations, as well as one in Chicago proper.

9) Mark Wahlberg’s Bringing His Burger Chain to Chicago

Wahlburgers Coney Island Preview Party
A Wahlburger that opened in 2015 in Brooklyn.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Wahlburgers

Actor and rapper Mark Wahlberg is part of Wahlburgers, a Boston-based chain with locations in Alabama, California, and New York — among other states. News broke that Wahlberg and his family were bringing the good vibrations in 2018 to River North. However, they still haven’t disclosed a location.

10) Bottled Blonde Could Lose its Liquor License

bottled blonde
Bottled Blonde
Bottled Blonde [Official Photo]

Neighbors in River North haven’t been happy with Bottled Blonde since the Arizona-based chain announced it was opening a Chicago location. They worried about noise, drunkards, and traffic. It seems their concerns were valid after Chicago officials ruled to take away the bar’s liquor license. This was the first indication that the city was moving toward the direction. The icing on the cake was news on that ridiculous dress code that barred men from wearing jewelry, among other strange stipulations. Guess that means no wedding rings.

Emporium Arcade Bar

2363 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 697-7922 Visit Website

Nutella Cafe

189 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL


652 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60661 (817) 877-3388

Bottled Blonde

504 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654 (480) 970-1112 Visit Website


4365 W Irving Park Rd, Chicago, IL 60641 (773) 736-5226 Visit Website