Chicagoans who hoped summer would provide them with some semblance of normalcy were dealt a blow Thursday as Gov. Pritzker said he believes large summer gatherings should be cancelled due to the COVID-19 threat. That put organizers of annual music festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork on notice. But where does the leave Chicago’s food festivals?
Taste of Chicago is scheduled for July 8 to July 12 in Grant Park. The annual event brings together hundreds of local restaurants and nationally known musicians under often sweltering summer temperatures. A spokesperson for the city of Chicago tells Eater Chicago that it’s too soon to react to the governor’s statement, but “the health and safety of our patrons is our number one priority.” Regardless of when the state’s stay-at-home order expires, the city is committed to following social-distance guidelines and other safety precautions.
“Plans for summer programming and events remain under discussion. While there has been no change since we last informed the media, our department and the city team will continue to work closely with our partners at the state to adopt protocols based on the information we receive and the guidance of health experts,” the city spokesperson emailed.
Taste of Chicago is a community event with free admission. Chicago Gourmet has become the city’s upscale counterpart, held annually in Millennium Park. Tickets have yet to go on sale for the festival (they usually go on sale in June). The three-day event brings in top chefs from across the city with a few national names. The festival is scheduled to go on as planned, according to a spokesperson. Officials will continue to closely monitor what health experts and governmental agencies recommend. Chicago Gourmet is slated to start on September 26, so there’s a bit more time before a decision needs to be made.
But, as a light snow fell Thursday, Chicagoans were forced to reassess how they planned to spend their summer. Summer street festival season, an annual tradition that provides city dwellers a seemingly random food item to celebrate every summer weekend, is in jeopardy. On Thursday, one such event, Whiting, Indiana’s Pierogi Fest, was canceled. The 2020 event was planned for late July, about a 30-minute drive south of downtown Chicago. The three-day event draws about 300,000.
And in other news..
- The CDC published a report earlier this week that chronicled how a single person may have spread the novel coronavirus to 16 people in Chicago leading to three deaths. Several outlets have reported on the study. The so-called “super-spreader” traveled from out of state. He supposedly spreads the disease with contact with family members using dinners, funerals, and birthdays.
- The owner of Lincoln Square’s Davis Theater, who helped renovated the space and add a restaurant to the theater, has died. Block Club Chicago reports that Tom Fencl died of lung cancer. He was 54. Three years ago, Fencl poured $4 million into renovating the theater and also adding a restaurant, Carbon Arc.
- Two vendors from One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman donated meals to Roseland Community Hospital, a safety-net facility on the South Side. Lexington Betty Smokehouse and Majani’s Soulful Vegan Cuisine donated 180 lunches to the hospital’s medical staff, according to a food hall spokesperson. Hospitalists across the country have been taxed as they treated patients suffering from COVID-19. Newish North Center bistro Cobblestone is also feeding hospital staff — owner Dr. Markus Chwajol (Bohemian House) will deliver free Easter and Passover meals to the ICU at UIC Medical Center (where he works as a neurosurgeon), as well as Chicago police and fire stations through Sunday. He’s also offering a free meal to any hungry Chicagoan. Operating on an honor system, he’s providing meals up to a $25 value for individuals, a $40 value for two, and a $50 value for families. More details are available on the Cobblestone website.
- The owners of Lakeview’s ChipMonks, which — despite the sign with a cartoon chipmunk dressed in a red shirt — has nothing to do with the children’s cartoon, decided to remind Chicago it has a football team. A tweet has gone viral of a counter sign making fun of Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Tribisky. The topical sign reminds customers about social distancing and COVID-19: “remember to remain at least 10 feet away from others. If you’re wondering how far that is, picture a Bears wide receiver and then imagine where Trubisky actually threw that pass. That distance is 10 feet.” Ouch.