— The Chicago restaurant industry is mourning the death of George Bannos, a partner at Heaven on Seven where he worked for 37 years alongside his brother, chef Jimmy Bannos Sr. He died on Tuesday night at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge following a heart attack, according to WLS radio. Bannos was 65. The restaurant will remain closed today (Friday) as family and staff attend Bannos’ funeral. Services will be held today at Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview. Burial will follow at Elmwood Cemetery.
— D’Amato’s Bakery is also mourning after the loss of a long-time employee who spent more than 20 years working at the West Town bakery. Aristeo “Pascuale” Soriano, 49, was a baker and died following a shooting on the 1300 block of West Huron Street. That’s about a 10-minute walk northwest from the bakery. Police believe it was an armed robbery, according to WGN. An online fundraiser campaign has been organized for the family. So far they’ve raised more than $3,200 out of the $10,000 goal.
— Remember the Inspector General’s report on city food inspectors from November? The OIG released a follow-up this week, and it looks like the city has taken some actions. Much of November’s report focused on the city not adhering to inspection schedules due to staffing issues. It appears, according to DNAinfo, that the city will hire 23 more inspectors in an attempt to meet federal staffing standards.
— This week’s cover story in the Reader focuses on Schwa, the mercurial fine-dining restaurant in Wicker Park from chef-owner Michael Carlson. The story paints a picture of Carlson and his staff mellowing out, taking fewer illicit substances, and taking a step back to watch a younger generation of chefs take the torch. Schwa, an Eater 38 member, can be a polarizing restaurant to diners and the media. Alums like Entente’s Brian Fisher and Oriole’s Noah Sandoval remain fiercely loyal. Michael Gebert’s story compares Schwa to a veteran rock band who can’t party as hard anymore due to age.
— Barrio, the new and sceney Mexican restaurant in River North from DineAmic Hospitality Group and Top Chef contestant Katsuji Tanabe, has started lunch service. Service starts at 11:30 a.m. daily and includes much of the dinner menu with the addition of two sandwiches. There’s a burger with “queso Americano,” hatch chili-onion hash, and avocado aioli. Then there’s a blackened mahi-mahi with avocado, togarashi cole slaw, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and shishito pepper tartar sauce.
— Pitmaster Lee Ann Whippen’s Southern Cut Barbecue has pleased diners in the Gold Coast after she left Chicago Q. Her fans should set their DVRs to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. That’s when she appears on Food Network’s Chopped Grill Masters to compete for $50,000. Southern Cut’s also hosting a watch party. Reservations are required. Call (312) 280-8887 to make them.
— The Chicago History Museum’s Hot Dog Fest returns this weekend to Lincoln Park. It kicks off today at 11 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. The fest resumes at noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and again at 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday at the corner of Stockton and LaSalle drives. Vendors include Byron’s Hot Dogs, Big Bob & Fritzy’s, Downtown Dogs, Chicago’s Dog House, and Flash Hot Dogs. Get tickets here. Ketchup is permitted for children, but it’s not encouraged. Be careful — ketchup lovers walk silently among the population. Big Condiment has already compromised one Chicago publication.