Fans of a South Side landmark Calumet Fisheries are in mourning after the death of 41-year-old manager Carlos Rosas. Rosas died Monday of complications related to COVID-19, owner Mark Kotlick wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“Carlos was our ambassador,” Kotlick writes in the post. “He always had a smile on his face and would greet you with a warm hello. He was a big guy with a heart to match... A big part of the spirit of Calumet Fisheries went to heaven yesterday.”
Calumet Fisheries, located by the banks of Calumet River, is a uniquely Chicagoan experience that’s earned a James Beard award and places on countless lists, including Eater Chicago’s essential restaurants in the city. The small shack produces exquisite bites of smoked seafood that’s taken to go or enjoyed by customers in their parked cars.
A native of Chicago’s Southeast Side, Rosas had worked at the smokehouse since 1997, according to the Tribune. Prior to his arrival at Calumet Fisheries, he cooked on the line on Indiana riverboats, and studied at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.
“He certainly will be missed by the Cal Fish family and the thousands of customers we have,” Kotlick writes in an email. “I guess the most important thing I want people to remember about Carlos is the MANY people who’s hearts he touched.”
Rosas embodied hospitality, and his welcoming demeanor earned “the fish house,” as locals call it, a special place in many hearts and stomachs. He appeared in a 2008 episode of Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show No Reservations, and can be seen peeking over the counter on an episode of PBS’s restaurant review show Check Please. The unofficial historian of Calumet Fisheries, Rosas delighted in telling customers about the 92-year-old store’s background — including its role in “Blues Brothers” history — and showing off the smoker, according to the Sun-Times.
By Friday morning, Kotlick’s Facebook tribute accrued nearly 500 comments from fans and friends across the U.S. who wanted to express their condolences and share stories about Rosas.
“I called him my Lil Brother but he was Mr. Hospitality at the store,” writes commenter Rudolph Zavala Jr. “He got a smile out of everyone and made sure you left with a smile and loved his workers. He was a Big Guy with a Big Smile and a Huge Heart. I will miss him so.”
Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday at St. Kevin Church (Iglesia de San Kevin). Burial will follow at St. John/St. Joseph Cemetery at 1547 167th Street in Hammond, Indiana. Facial coverings are required.
In other news...
— Hit Laotian-American popup Sao Song from chef Andy Sisomboune (Nico Osteria) will be offering dishes to go from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday and Monday at El Che Meat & Provisions, chef John Manion’s meat shop inside El Che Steakhouse & Bar in Fulton Market, according to a news release. Menu items include a Lao Family Meal for $25 per person, plus a la carte items such as crispy coconut rice salad and Lao pepper and egg sandwiches, as well as to-go wines and cocktails. Customers can pre-order via Toast. A portion of sales will go to PNAP (Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project), an arts and humanities programming initiative for men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison in Crest Hill, Illinois. In January, Sisomboune and Sao Song took over Andersonville restaurant Passerotto.
— Local pizza devotees can now pay tribute to some of the city’s best pizzerias from the walls of their home with a print from illustrator Dan Bransfield and his ongoing “cities by the slice” series that celebrates famous slices in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, and beyond. The print features local institutions including deep dish destination Pequod’s in Lincoln Park, Lakeview’s popular Art of Pizza, and thin-crust expert Marie’s Pizza & Liquors on the Northwest Side.
— Celebrated West Loop cocktail bar Kumiko from star bartender Julia Momose launched a new project Thursday called Cafe Kumiko, according to an Instagram post. It’s a Japanese cafe that operates out of Kumiko’s walk-up window with drinks like aisu-kohi (Japanese iced coffee), hot and cold teas, spirit-free beverages including a “Pepperberrry Tonic,” and bottled sparkling juices. There’s also a menu of otsumami, or “bites,” such as yuzu-kosho karaage (Japanese fried chicken thighs, garlic, tamari, sake, sugar, yuzu-kosho) and shio koji cucumber pickles. Cafe Kumiko is open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.