As the country deals with Election Day hangovers, there are results on one measure that directly affects Chicago’s service industry. It’s a small sliver of the city on the North Side, but an attempt to make a stretch near Ashland Avenue and Irving Park Road dry has failed. The measure, which would ban area sales of alcoholic drinks of more than 4-percent ABV for a minimum of four years was defeated according to unofficial results: 63 percent to 37 percent according to the Tribune.
The referendum was aimed at shutting down Tai’s Till 4, a late-night bar at 3611 N. Ashland Avenue. The bar has remained closed since March after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order which came during the onset of the pandemic. The bar, which can stay open until 4 a.m. pre-COVID-19, has become the target of neighbors who say ownership isn’t accountable for crimes in the area, including a fatal February shooting. Neighbors say the activity comes from the bar and spills outside.
As the Tribune notes. local Ald. (44th Ward) Tom Tunney sent a letter to constituents urging them to vote against the measure. Tai’s possessed a late-night tavern license and can serve until 5 a.m. on Sundays.
In other non-presidential news, the state’s graduated income tax amendment also failed. Supporters hoped it would create a revenue stream for cash-strapped Illinois. The Tribune cuts through the spin of the TV commercials to explain how the amendment would affected residents. As the state projects a $6.5 billion deficit this budget year and next, this is bad news for the restaurant and bar industry which has begged the state for more help during the pandemic.
And in other news...
— Club Lucky, the well-known Italian-American corner restaurant that’s operated in Bucktown for more than 30 years, served as an Election Day polling place on Tuesday. Block Club Chicago spoke with Club Lucky owner Jim Higgins about how restaurant polling places are rare in the city. Higgins has offered up the space as a voting location since he took ownership in 1990. Due to the pandemic, locals couldn’t linger for martinis after voting as they have during prior elections. The space’s days as a tavern are long gone as Club Lucky is a full-service restaurant with both restaurant and tavern licenses. Those designations are important during the pandemic in determining who can serve indoors or outdoors in the city of Chicago. Club Lucky was also the restaurant that introduced and connected several colleagues who would go on to start One Off Hospitality Group (Publican, Big Star, Pacific Standard Time).
— Restaurants have played a key role in stimulating growth and development in cities across the U.S. — including Chicago — by attracting young people with disposable incomes to former warehouse and industrial districts. But the pandemic’s profound impact on those same establishments could threaten the entire ecosystem of neighborhood businesses that’s emerged around those restaurants, the New York Times reports. Avondale restaurants Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Michelin-starred Parachute, for example, are both facing steep challenges. HBFC co-owner Josh Kulp tells the Times that takeout fried chicken sandwiches are helping the business stay afloat for the time being, but decorated chef and Parachute co-owner Beverly Kim says her business is hemorrhaging money every week. Over in Logan Square, chef and owner Jason Hammel of pioneering farm-to-table spot Lula Cafe, says business at his restaurant is down about 80 percent. Everyone in the hospitality industry is struggling right now, he told reporters. Lula can stay solvent for two or three more months, but without federal aid, the restaurant could close this winter.
— Many of Chicago’s storied dive bars are struggling in the midst of the pandemic and resulting ban on indoor service in the city. The Corner Bar in Bucktown, however, is working to stay open by transforming into a packaged goods bar selling hot coffee from Dark Matter, cold brew coffee, beer, wine, liquor, and more, according to Block Club. The bar at 2224 N. Leavitt Street is unusual among local dives as it’s operated by two women.