Owners and chefs from 10 Chicago restaurants are among a list of more than 150 across the country who signed a letter endorsing Joe Biden for president. The letter (the full text is here), was released on Thursday and chides President Donald Trump’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, stating he “failed the restaurant industry, our employees, our customers, and the stakes are too high to continue down this path.”
The owners’ grievances include the ineffectiveness of the PPP loan program, shortages of personal protective equipment, and a lack of uniform social distance guidelines. There’s also anger that the White House only cares about major restaurant chains.
“While iconic restaurants and community staples spent the past six months supplying food to communities in need and adapting our businesses to mandated closures, social distancing measures and a historic economic collapse, the Trump administration blew the pandemic response,” the letter reads.
The letter concludes: “Without a change in leadership, many of our businesses simply will not survive to see the end of this crisis. We must elect Joe Biden on November 3.”
Although larger restaurant groups often make political donations to candidates, a public endorsement like this is rare in Chicago. Still, many restaurant owners still subscribe to the marketing philosophy attributed years ago to a Chicago icon: Bulls legend Michael Jordan, (a pitchman for Nike) explaining why he wasn’t politically engaged in the 1980s, said, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”
Certain absences are especially dubious as customers and workers are paying closer attention to how restaurant owners react politically and to other matters including civil rights. The CHAAD database is tracking if restaurants are actively supporting Black Lives Matter, or if social media responses were merely performative. The worry is that some restaurants that posted about Black Lives Matters in June simply viewed it as a marketing ploy.
The following are signees from Chicago restaurants:
- Rohini Dey (Vermilion)
- Christine Cikowski, Josh Kulp (Honey Butter Fried Chicken)
- Danielle and Thai Dang (HaiSous)
- Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe, Marisol, Superkhana International)
- Sandra Holl (Floriole Cafe & Bakery)
- Stephanie Izard (Girl & the Goat, Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat)
- Paul Kahan (One Off Hospitality Group)
- Julia Momose (Kumiko)
- Carrie Nahabedian (Brindille, Kostali)
- Erick Williams (Virtue)
In other news...
— Family members and local organizations will honor the memory of beloved Pilsen churro vendor Taurino Brito, known to fans as “Abuelito,” on Friday by giving away food, diapers, books, personal protective equipment (PPE), and more, Block Club Chicago reports. Brito was a fixture in the neighborhood for decades, known for giving locals a free churro when they did a good deed, his granddaughter Aida Flores told reporters. The event and giveaway, which will also feature story time and a book giveaway for children, runs Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1802 S. Bishop Street. More details are available on Facebook. Flores plans to continue holding community celebrations on the anniversary of Brito’s death, and eventually put up a statue in tribute to street vendors like her grandfather.
— Brewpubs are discovering new ways to survive. Eris Brewery and Cider House in Irving Park is ramping up on its canned offerings during the pandemic, including a limited release of “Strawbarbarella,” a strawberry rhubarb hard cider. COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions on bars and breweries have forced Eris’ ownership to try a new approach, according to co-owner Michelle Foik. Fans can order 16-ounce four-packs of the aforementioned cider on the website, and pickup begins Saturday.
— The chefs behind playful Japanese-inspired pop-up Cat-Su Sando will team up with Logan Square taproom hub Pilot Project Brewing next month for sando-and-beer pairings on the patio, according to news release. Former fine-dining chefs Will Schlaeger (Next, Saison, Blackbird) and Shawn Clendening (Oriole, Saison, Blackbird) will feature a selection of their most popular sandos, or Japanese sandwiches, and reps hint that there will be an enormous inflatable Maneki-neko (“beckoning cat”), a harbinger of good luck in Japan. The collaboration runs from Tuesday, October 6 through Thursday, October 8 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pilot Project, 2140 N. Milwaukee Avenue.