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Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza is Luring Out-of-State Tourists into Breaking Quarantine Rules

Plus, Uptown fine-dining restaurant Brass Heart has a new executive chef, and more intel

Chicago deep-dish pizza
Lou Malnati’s still lures visitors from across the country.
Lou Malanti’s/Facebook

Even a global pandemic isn’t stopping out-of-state tourists from beating a path to Chicago deep-dish chain Lou Malnati’s, despite the city’s travel order that requires a two-week quarantine for residents of specific states, according to WBEZ. The city’s order includes 22 states with high COVID-19 rates and requires visitors from those states to isolate or face fines.

Visitors from Kansas and Wisconsin were found hanging around (where else?) the Bean in Millennium Park last Wednesday and told WBEZ they opted for a Lou’s lunch amid trips to Wrigleyville and the Museum of Science and Industry. Kansas and Wisconsin are on the list, which threatens fines of $100 to $500 per day for violators. The order includes states that have an average of more than 15 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people a day.

Some of the downtown tourists reportedly knew about the order, others didn’t, but none seemed concerned about enforcement (aside from declining to use their names on WBEZ) as officials aren’t dedicating significant resources to the effort.

That’s a different approach from states like Hawai’i, where visitors are required to provide hotel details and sign a travel declaration form and order for self-quarantine. As of Tuesday, the state has seen 2,591 coronavirus cases and 27 deaths in total.

Deep dish has actually become a polarizing topic in Chicago after years of East Coast pizza elitism threatened to ruin a dish that brings many people joy. Chicago thin-crust pizza is now seen as more representative of locals, as is tavern-style pizza with its cracker crust and sausage loaded with fennel is what’s consumed more often by locals. Deep dish, in its many variants, is now seen as something reserved for tourists and or decoration for ugly baseball caps.

As travelers from across the country can drop in for deep dish, some Cubs gear, and go, the pandemic and its ripple effect continue to wreak havoc on Chicago’s hospitality industry. The financial fallout for bars and restaurants is ongoing, and numerous local landmarks have closed as a result. The crisis is about more than money: beloved local industry figures including Carlos Rosas of South Side icon Calumet Fisheries and Saul Moreno of Restaurante Cuetzala Gro in Rogers Park died of complications related to COVID-19.

And in other news...

— Uptown fine dining restaurant Brass Heart has brought on Norman Fenton (Schwa) as its new executive chef preservations are online now via Tock, according to a Facebook post. Fenton will feature a “post-modern American” tasting menu that draws on his experiences during a nine-month trip around “the bottom of the continent,” including Mexico. Chef Matt Kerney is leaving Chicago to move to California. The former Longman & Eagle chef had been in Chicago for 15 years, according to a spokesperson.

A fancy looking plate of food.
A sample of Norman Fenton’s new dishes.
Brass Heart/Tom Gavin

Innertown Pub now waits for Ald. (2nd Ward) Brian Hopkins, as the dive bar pursues opening a patio. Owner Denis Fogarty’s efforts were initially dashed by the East Village Neighborhood Association, which was sensitive about not being kept in the loop in regard to the business’s desire for a patio. But the association agreed to stand down, Fogarty says. Hopkins will now have final say. The bar want to open a private patio so it can rehire its workers and stay open during the pandemic. A Monday night Zoom meeting about the matter was uneventful.

— After the success of last month’s pop-up at El Che Steakhouse & Bar, the team from Sao Song is at it again with a new pop-up at the same West Loop restaurant. On Sunday, they’ll offer Laotian brunch, and Monday they’re offering a family meal. Check out the menus below. Chicago lacks a Laotian restaurant, and Sao Song hopes to eventually fill this glaring void. Carryout ordering for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday is available via Tock.

— Workers at two popular West Loop restaurants have tested positive for COVID-19, leading to temporary closures at both establishments. Essential Chicago restaurant Monteverde from Top Chef finalist chef Sarah Grueneberg (Spiaggia) closed July 30, according to a Facebook post. Enormous patio spot Recess wrote on Facebook Monday that an employee who worked over the weekend has also tested positive for coronavirus. The venue is closed “until all employees have been tested and the entire venue can be sanitized,” according to the post. Other local spots that have shut down after workers tested positive include famed fine dining restaurant Alinea, Logan Square’s Longman & Eagle and Galit, and Replay Andersonville.

Today, a member of our team has tested positive for Covid-19. The team member is asymptomatic and proactively went in...

Posted by Recess on Monday, August 3, 2020

— A local part owner of a Chicago restaurant was arrested July 29 in a “federal gang takedown” in Englewood, according to the Tribune. Shongo Collier, a co-owner of chicken restaurant Chicago Wings Around The World at 748 W. 61st Street, was one of 23 arrested along with Darnell McMiller, the reputed leader of the Black Disciples. Collier was charged with dealing narcotics including fentanyl.

— The annual deluge of heavy-ABV barrel-aged beer is starting. The pioneers of the trend, Goose Island Brewing, will soon have an official announcement of its 2020 Bourbon County Brand Stout lineup. That’s the beer that beer nerds wait in long lines for, trying to collect all the variants upon the brew’s Black Friday release in November. Goose Island annually sends a variety of labels to the federal government seeking approvals. The filings give beer drinkers a preview of what to expect, but Goose has caught on. The company has begun filing fake labels to mess with beer drinkers. Nevertheless, Guys Drinking Beer checked out this year’s batch of labels. Flavors mentioned include toasted coconut, Earl Gray tea, and peaches and cream.

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773 276 7110 Visit Website

Innertown Pub

1935 West Thomas Street, , IL 60622 (773) 235-9795 Visit Website

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria

1050 East Higgins Road, , IL 60007 (847) 439-2000 Visit Website


838 West Kinzie Street, , IL 60642 (312) 801-1181 Visit Website

Chicago Wings Around the World

700 E 47th St, Chicago, IL 60653 (872) 818-5260

Calumet Fisheries

3259 E 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60617 773 933 9855


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041


644 N Orleans St, Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 265-1411 Visit Website

Brass Heart

4662 North Broadway, , IL 60640 (773) 564-9680 Visit Website

El Che Steakhouse & Bar

845 West Washington Boulevard, , IL 60607 (312) 265-1130 Visit Website