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Chicago Restaurants Holding ‘Unprecedented’ Fundraiser for Domestic Violence Shelter

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Proceeds from meals served on May 2 will benefit Connections for Abused Women and Their Children

Bar Biscay is among 26 Chicago restaurants participating in a May 2 fundraiser supporting a domestic violence charity.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
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.

An unprecedented coalition of Chicago restaurants are holding a fundraiser on Thursday, May 2 with sales benefitting a domestic violence victim advocacy group that is well aware of the effort. Participating venues include Bar Biscay, Funkenhausen, Longman & Eagle, Cherry Circle Room, and Emporium Arcade Bar. They’re donating money to Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC), a 41-year-old women’s shelter with presences in locations like Northwestern Memorial and Stroger hospitals.

Event organizers are looking for more restaurants to add to the 27 already participating, according to event founder Daniella Caruso, a co-owner at Funkenhausen in West Town and a former CAWC volunteer. She started contacting restaurants more than a month ago. Caruso wants to build an industry that better listens to tend with victims’s needs. There are misconceptions, including wondering why a victim can’t just easily exit an abusive relationship. Fiscal constraints and the fact there aren’t enough shelter beds available don’t make the solution so feasible.

“I want the community to be more understanding of the issue as a whole and how it develops,” Caruso said.

CAWC can do its part by providing tips on how to better recognize potential victims and perpetrators. For example, CAWC executive director Stephanie Love-Patterson suggested posting tips or pamphlets on the inside of bathroom stall doors. This way, victims can discretely take down phone numbers for counseling without the fear of being judged.

Restaurants and bars should be safe spaces for victims where they receive support. Many times when victims arrive at CAWC, the group’s staff are the first people to actually listen and believe victim stories, said Love-Patterson. She’s in awe of the effort. While a few restaurants have donated gift cards for silent charity auctions, the industry has never showed solidarity like this effort.

“This is groundbreaking and what I hope this will cause other industries to think about how they can help their workers,” Love-Patterson said.

Though Caruso and Love-Patterson said the restaurant world isn’t different from other sectors when it comes to domestic violence, access to benefits may be one area of concern in this discussion. Even though the number is increasing, few restaurants and bar workers have access to benefits like health care insurance which would also make counseling services available. Also, not all abuse is criminal. A report from the Restaurant Opportunities Center estimated 90 percent of female restaurant workers have experienced sexual harassment.

With that in mind, the response has been positive. Caruso is looking for more restaurants to join, particularly some of Chicago’s bigger restaurant companies. The majority of the 27 participants are independent restaurants.

A blonde woman in a white dress in front of a blue, red, and white background.
Funkenhausen’s Daniella Caruso
Courtesy of Daniella Caruso

The money would help CAWC offers a variety of support services for domestic violence victims across Chicago. The organization needs money for a variety of reasons. For example, $500 pays for clothes for seven CAWC so they have the appropriate attire for job interviews. $250 would pay for transportation so 10 clients could go to court to seek an order of protection. $1,000 covers the monthly phone bill for CAWC 24-hour domestic violence hotline which receives about 300 calls per month.

This is a learning process for the restaurant world. Sari Worsham is co-owner of Bar Biscay and MFK., two participating restaurants. Worsham and Love-Patterson spoke about ways owners could better support victims. One way is to better recognize signs. A victim may wear a long-sleeved sweater in the middle of summer to cover up injuries. A normally punctual worker may suddenly become tardy. Addressing suspicions requires a deft touch. Love-Patterson suggested managers to gently use language like “I might be wrong, but I wanted to check in on something.”

“I would love to be in a world where they felt safe and if it wasn’t us they could talk to someone else,” Worsham said.

Caruso, a former Eater Chicago intern, is married to Mark Steuer, the chef/co-owner at Funkenhausen, which has helped put her in contact with restaurant owners. There was talk about how to market the event, if customers would be triggered by displays announcing the event. If customers are bothered by the effort, Chicago has plenty of other restaurants they could visit.

“If anyone has any problem with what we’re’s true, zero parts of me cares,” Caruso said.

Restaurant owners interested in joining the effort could email Caruso at

These are the participating restaurants as of April 18:

  1. Funkenhausen
  2. Bar Biscay
  3. MFK.
  4. El Che Steakhouse & Bar
  5. La Sirena Clandestina
  6. Flo
  7. Frontier
  8. Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods
  9. The Loyalist
  10. Good Measure
  11. Portsmith
  12. Filini Bar & Restaurant
  13. The Press Room
  14. Walton Street Kitchen + Bar
  15. Dorian’s
  16. Gemini
  17. Cherry Circle Room
  18. Longman & Eagle
  19. Boeufhaus
  20. Spilt Milk
  21. Bayan Ko
  22. Broken Shaker Chicago
  23. Pub Royale
  24. Emporium Arcade Bar (Wicker Park, Logan Square, Fulton Market)
  25. Young American
  26. Ludlow Liquors
  27. Cleo’s

The Loyalist

177 North Ada Street, , IL 60607 (773) 913-3774 Visit Website


1315 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (773) 395-2700 Visit Website

The Press Room

1134 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (331) 240-1914 Visit Website

Ludlow Liquors

2959 N. California Avenue, Chicago, IL (773) 754-7492 Visit Website

Good Measure

226 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 600-9268 Visit Website

Bayan Ko

1810 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 698-6373 Visit Website

La Sirena Clandestina

954 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 226-5300 Visit Website


1012 North Western Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 661-2116 Visit Website

Pub Royale

2049 West Division Street, , IL 60622 (773) 661-6874 Visit Website


1434 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (312) 243-0477 Visit Website

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

1415 North Wood Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-8320 Visit Website


1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (312) 624-8363 Visit Website


1709 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60622 (312) 929-4727 Visit Website

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773 276 7110 Visit Website

Cherry Circle Room

12 South Michigan Avenue, , IL 60603 (312) 792-3515 Visit Website

Spilt Milk

2758 West Fullerton Avenue, , IL 60647 Visit Website


2075 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 525-2522 Visit Website


660 North State Street, , IL 60654 (312) 202-6050 Visit Website

Walton Street Kitchen + Bar

912 North State Street, , IL 60610 (773) 570-3525 Visit Website

El Che Steakhouse & Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website


1072 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60642 (773) 772-4322 Visit Website

Emporium Arcade Bar

1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 697-7922 Visit Website

Broken Shaker Chicago

19 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 940-3699 Visit Website

Bar Biscay

1450 West Chicago Avenue, , IL 60642 (312) 455-8900 Visit Website


1939 West North Avenue, , IL 60622 (773) 687-9824 Visit Website

Young American

2545 North Kedzie Boulevard, , IL 60647 (773) 687-8385 Visit Website


1072 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (773) 772-4322 Visit Website