—Although the number of new-year shutters have slowed down in recent weeks, here are two more: Piggyback Tavern in the West Loop and Ameritalia in the South Loop. Piggyback Tavern, which had been "temporarily" closed at 500 W. Madison St. for months, follows its sister restaurant that closed at 176. N. Wells St. in September, as a Facebook post confirms and asks employees to pick up their W-2 tax forms at another sister spot, Madison Tavern. The suburban Forest Park location remains open.
—Meanwhile, South Loopers reportedly lost an Italian restaurant and deli option in Ameritalia at 1303 S. Michigan Ave. Signage is gone and equipment is cleared out, Sloopin reports, a Facebook commenter laments the shutter, and the phone line leads to a non-working number message. The cafe opened in August 2014, replacing Panozzo’s Italian Deli.
—A major staffing change has already come to Randolph Row’s Latin restaurant and lounge hotspot Ronero, which has only been open for two months at 738 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop. Pedigreed beverage director Allie Kim, a veteran of Girl & the Goat, says she no longer works there. There’s no word yet on a replacement.
—Longtime local sweets star Dana Cree, a James Beard Award finalist who now works for One Off Hospitality (The Publican, Publican Anker, Blackbird), is releasing an ice cream book on March 28 entitled Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop after working on her own ice cream line under a similar name. More details on the book are available at Amazon.
—2017 amazingly marks the 30th anniversary of Rick Bayless’ landmark first restaurant Frontera Grill. Bayless is throwing a massive (and expensive) party to celebrate the occasion, taking over the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago on April 30. The event will feature a good food forum, an "all-star culinary food court," and a bevy of celebrity chefs including Marcus Samuelsson, Paul Kahan, Stephanie Izard, Ming Tsai, and many more. Individual tickets are going for $500 to benefit FamilyFarmed and Frontera Farmer Foundation, and are available here.
—Opart Thai’s West Town location, 1371 W. Chicago Ave., now serves alcohol from a full bar after receiving its liquor license.
—And finally, check out a video of Jason Vincent’s appearance on "CBS This Morning" below, where, among many other things, he talks about his style of food at Giant, his first cooking job, and the one person he’d most like to share a meal with.