Dining rooms across Chicago reopened Friday for the first time since March as the city moves into the next formalized stage of economic recovery from the pandemic. Some of Chicago’s fine dining restaurants hunkered down for the duration when Gov. J.B. Pritzker shuttered restaurant spaces, allowing takeout and delivery. Now, three-Michelin-starred Alinea will launch “AIR: Alinea in Residence” on a Fulton Market rooftop across from sister restaurant Next.
Held in rain or shine, the open-air dining “experience” is the latest pivot from the esteemed Alinea group, which began offering meals for pickup during the stay-at-home order. The meals start Wednesday and go through August 15 with an entirely unique menu, according to partner Nick Kokonas.
“The food is all new,” chef and partner Grant Achatz writes on Instagram. “No greatest hits or throwbacks and conceptualized based on all the events of the last four months and how that made us feel, the new safety rules, nuances of the space, and the fact we will be cooking and you eating outside.” Kokonas confirms that they’ve taken over the rooftop at Morgan’s on Fulton. The Tribune reports that Alinea staff have brought some equipment to augment the space’s kitchen.
Takeout in Lincoln Park will continue. For “AIR,” reservations are booked through July and cost $285 to $315. On Monday morning, Tock showed a single reservation left in August.
Alinea isn’t the only Chicago fine dining restaurant on the comeback trail. Over the weekend in Lincoln Park, Boka debuted a five-course tasting menu meal on its front and back patios. Part of the allure is that servers don’t have to take orders from customers and that limits interaction. In that same spirit, Avec in West Loop requires diners to order online before their visits.
Brass Heart in Uptown was also open for socially distanced meals. Chef Matt Kerney had tried group takeout for customers who wanted dinner parties. Customers would pick up their items and then enjoy their dinners together over video conferencing. Near McCormick Place, Moody Tongue Brewing Co. opened its patio. Co-owner Jared Rouben says he’s working on bringing back the restaurant’s tasting menu. Michelin-starred Temporis plans to reopen its dining room on July 8.
“Socially distanced? A limited amount of people at one time? Restricting the flow of clients that are methodically seated through out?” Muser says. “You’re describing my restaurant already.”
And in other news...
— A second set of protests took place over the weekend bringing attention to the lack of Black-owned nightclubs and bars in Downtown Chicago. Many of the participants were organized via the End Chicago Nightlife Racism Instagram account. Bar owner Teddy Gilmore has been a loud voice about the discrimination he’s suffered. Most recently, Gilmore saw DrinkHaus in Greektown shut down in fall 2019. The Tribe described the frustration from the Black community over the closing. Gilmore has seen a double standard in how Black owners are treated, and how quick city officials are to shut down establishments while giving white-owned spaces, like Bottled Blonde, multiple chances.
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Thank You to everyone who came out to the second Saturday March ! Very special thanks to @chico_lifechangingagent Who knows firsthand of lack of black employment and entrepreneurship that actually leads to kids & young men getting shot in street because of lack of opportunity! he’s been working in the field with violence prevention organizations for years with a masters degree in the field we will be back next Saturday at 5 PM for the peaceful protest party Pt 3 #endchicagonightliferacism #peacefulprotest #chicagoracism
— A Cook County judge ruled last week that several McDonald’s in Chicago need to take strong measures to protect employees from COVID-19. The judge’s order was response to a lawsuit filed by five workers from four Chicago McDonald’s, according to the Tribune. The lawsuit involved McDonald’s at 10320 S. Kedzie Avenue; 2438 W. Cermak Road; and 3867 S. Archer Avenue, according to the Trib.
— In the South Loop, Giglio’s State Street Tavern won a legal victory in federal court. The court ruled that the restaurant, due to a Force Majeure, or “Act of God,” only owes 75 percent of its rent during the pandemic. The restaurant’s parent company, Hitz Restaurant Group, had filed for bankruptcy on February, according to Restaurant Hospitality. The judge still ruled Giglio’s must pay 25 percent of its back rent from April through June because it can offer takeout and delivery.