Donnie Wahlberg leaves $2,020 IHOP tip on New Years Day
Suburban St. Charles resident and celebrity Donnie Wahlberg left one lucky IHOP server a $2,020 tip on New Years Day, according to the Daily Herald. Joined that day by wife Jenny McCarthy, the star reportedly told the server — who happened to be a longtime New Kids on the Block fan — to wait until he left before looking at the receipt. There, he supplemented the mammoth tip with notes, writing “Happy New Year” and “2020 Tip Challenge” with a smiley face.
Mexican fine dining stalwart Topolobampo celebrates 30 years
Rick Bayless will hold a 30th anniversary celebration for his game-changing fine dining Mexican stalwart Topolobampo on January 26. Since its founding in 1989, the restaurant helped reshape the way diners see Mexican cuisine and became a national icon. Touted as a “moveable feast,” the anniversary dinner begins with snacks and cocktails at subterranean Bar Sotano, then moves on to margaritas, ceviche, and more at Frontera Grill, and then finally lands at Topolobampo with dry-aged ribeye starring Bayless’s 29-ingredient mole negro. Tickets are available on Tock for $175.
Renowned Cajun spot Maple Tree Inn to reopen soon
Renowned Cajun restaurant Maple Tree Inn is slated to open in suburban Homewood by the end of January, according to the Tribune. A fire forced the four-decade-old Blue Island restaurant to close in August 2018, and though no one was hurt, it took nearly 18 months for ownership to find and build out the new location at 18849 Dixie Highway. Co-owner Erich Wennberg promises menu highlights such as etoufee, jambalaya, smoked Andouille sausage, and more.
Plans stall for ‘diverse’ Edgewater bar Cochran’s Tavern
Plans for “diverse” Edgewater bar Cochran’s Tavern from the team behind landmark gay sports bar Crew Bar and Grill won’t come to fruition, ownership wrote in a Facebook post. Business partners Steve Milford and Brian Wells explained that after six months of meetings and fundraising efforts, they didn’t have the financial support to open the bar at 6341 N. Broadway Street. “This is not the end of the road, but more of an unexpected detour,” they wrote on social media.
Tribune Editorial Board boosts Lightfoot’s food truck hours expansion
The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board expressed support for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposal to double food truck parking time in an opinion piece Thursday. The board questions the reasoning — protection for restaurants from the free market — that underlies the stringent restrictions that have long plagued Chicago food truck owners, arguing that restaurant food and drink sales exploded over the past 10 years. “The mayor’s changes would help Chicago shed its reputation for being hostile to a form of food delivery that suits 21st-century tastes and lifestyles,” the board wrote.
New vendors help raise Chicago’s Riverwalk revenue by more than $2 million
And finally, new bars and restaurants have helped boost revenues from Chicago’s Riverwalk, which increased by more than $2 million last year, according to the Tribune. The first Community Marketplace, featuring eight new minority- and women-owned operations including Chiya Chai Cafe, Batter and Berries, and Justice of the Pies, helped foster that growth and plans to return for the 2020 season. This year, the Riverwalk’s concessions brought in $16.5 million, a notable leap from the $14.4 million generated in 2018.