Nini’s Deli has permanently closed in West Town after crowds gathered over the weekend to protest a series of racist and homophobic social media posts made by its owners. The restaurant’s bright pink brick at the corner of Noble and Ohio has since been painted over with a Black Lives Matter logo. Protesters left several signs denouncing the anti-Black sentiments expressed by brothers Juan “Juany” and José Riesco. Juany Riesco announced that Nini’s would close and he would pursue being a Christian minister.
Nini’s, 543 N. Noble Street, was a fast-casual restaurant that served Cuban-inspired breakfast sandwiches with ropa vieja and empanadas. The restaurant was very popular in the Noble Square neighborhood over the last nine years. The Riecos are of Cuban, Mexican, and Lebanese descent. Co-owner Juany Riesco has ambitions stretching beyond restaurants. His since-deactivated Instagram handle, “Juanyworldwide” was patterned off of William Wesley, the mega sports agent known as “World Wide Wes.” Riesco had a clothing company called Chicago Native, and collaborated on a pair of sneakers with Nike. Chicago Native has also ceased operations. A surplus of unwanted T-shirts were abandoned over the weekend along Chicago Avenue in West Town.
Last week, as demonstrations took place in Chicago and across the country protesting police brutality — and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery — Nini’s fans asked Juany Riesco what he thought of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Riescos made statements online and outside the restaurant that equated BLM to a terrorist group, with Juany Riesco citing his religious beliefs and that “does not stand behind any movement that hates all police officers.” The brothers also made homophobic and anti-Muslim remarks.
The backlash led to Nike severing ties with Riesco. Several food companies that worked with Nini’s followed, with Intelligentsia Coffee, Bang Bang Pies, and Cash Drop all backing away from the Riescos. Christian Rangel wrote a comprehensive timeline on the saga. The Tribune sent a reporter to Sunday’s protest.
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We do not condone racism or discrimination in any form and stand in solidarity with the Black and LGBTQ+ communities. As a company we are committed to being accountable and working towards progressive change. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ To action our solidarity with these communities, we will be ending our partnership with Nini’s Deli and we will be donating profits from Nini’s to @BLMCHI ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ To the team at Nini’s: we encourage you to please educate yourselves on how to be a better ally and take the time to listen & learn from your community.
Home Team Pizza neighbors Nini’s, and on Monday morning there was a message in front of the sidewalk: “Eat here,” with an arrow pointing to the pizzeria. Another message had an arrow pointing at Nini’s “Not there.” On Monday, June 15, Home Town will donate all proceeds from pizza slices sales from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to former Nini’s workers.
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Next Monday We will be helping out the Former employees of Ninis and donating all proceeds from Slices...Come Support them during this difficult time! #hometeam #pizza #chicago #help #support #exemployees #of #ninis #all #proceeds #donated #to #former #employees #westtown #westtownchicago #standtall #blm #lgbtq #endallracism #local #localbusiness #family #familybusiness
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- The teams behind Bridgeport establishments Marz Community Brewing, Kimski, and Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar have launched a new initiative aimed at feeding Chicagoans in need. Called the Community Kitchen, the month-long project will provide 200 meals per day, three days per week, for South Side residents, families, and heath care workers. Those who want to help support or expand the program can donate online or contact Ed Marszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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