2021 is off to a busy start for Chicago’s Department of Business and Consumer Protection (BACP), which has cited 12 bars and restaurants so far this month for violating COVID-19 regulations aimed at preventing the virus’ spread. That’s a marked increase from December, when the department cited ten hospitality businesses over the whole month.
January’s citation recipients include Exit, the late-night goth and punk bar at Elston and North and wine bar Joe’s Imports on Fulton Market. La Palapa Mexican restaurant in McKinley Park also received its second citation of the month, the Tribune reports. Near DePaul, McGee’s now bears a large orange BACP sticker that reads “Business closed by order of city of Chicago.” McGee’s owners describe the closure as a “temporary break” for an “unknown amount of time” in a January 11 Facebook post.
As citations for rule breakers continue to flow out of BACP’s office, city and state officials are butting heads over when indoor dining can resume in Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday morning that the return of indoor dining is “very close,” and that she aims to reopen bars and restaurants as soon as possible. Though Pritzker is poised to lift some pandemic restrictions on Friday across Illinois, lifting “Tier 3” mitigations won’t automatically restore indoor service, according to NPR.
Lightfoot’s office, buoyed by the Illinois Restaurant Association, has requested to meet with Pritzker’s people in hopes of revising the state’s reopening guidelines. Pritzker and Lightfoot have had some tension on this issue. As NPR notes, “a region must experience a positivity rate of 6.5 percent or less (based on a seven-day rolling average) for three days in a row. Only then will a region return to Phase 4, and its restaurants and bars be allowed to reopen for indoor service.” Right now, Chicago hovers above 10 percent.
There continues to be a split of opinion between restaurant owners who ignore safety regulations and feel they need to be open to sustain their business and restaurant owners who listen to health experts and have halted indoor service. Though the Illinois Restaurant Association and others have pushed officials to again allow indoor dining in the city, not all restaurant owners are excited about the prospect of serving patrons inside. Among them is Zoe Schor, chef and co-owner of popular spot Split-Rail in West Town. For Schor, the idea of restarting indoor service right now and exposing her employees to the public is “abhorrent.”
“My hope is that it doesn’t happen,” she writes to Eater Chicago. “If it does, I think we can look forward to even more loss of life, not to mention the nightmare rollercoaster to folks who have to go from being on unemployment to dangerous workplaces scenarios — and then back again, when we inevitably backslide, or when their restaurant closes due to the sure-to-come COVID outbreak.”
Chicago bars and restaurants cited in January for pandemic rule violations include:
- La Palapa, 2000 W. 34th Street
- Exit, 1315 W. North Avenue
- Doc B’s, 55 E. Grand Avenue
- Joe’s Imports, 813 W. Fulton Market
- Brigadoon, 5748 W. Lawrence Avenue
- Fox’s Beverly Pub, 9956 S. Western Avenue
- Guide’s Sports Club, 5544 S. Archer Avenue
- Kabobi, 4748 N. Kedzie Avenue
- McGee’s Tavern & Grille, 950 W. Webster Avenue
- Nipsey’s, 9156 S. Stony Island Avenue
- Duffy’s Tavern & Grille, 420 W. Diversey Parkway
And in other news...
— Fans of Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, and Tagalongs in Chicago will soon be able to get Girl Scout cookies delivered by mid-February, according to the Sun-Times. Third-party delivery company Grubhub is featuring the cookies starting February 1 in states including Indiana, Texas, and Alabama. Customers can also purchase cookies online for shipping or delivery by specific troops. Grubhub says its waiving its famously debated fees so the city won’t have to enforce the 15 percent fee cap. Hopefully, this covers all fees, and Girl Scouts won’t get stuck with a bill for marketing costs.
— Ownership at Japanese restaurant Futatsuki Ramen in Uptown has issued a call for help finding a new location after damage from an early December fire in an upstairs apartment forced the spot to close, according to a Facebook post. Owners also include photos of the blackened and boarded-up building at 4623 N. Broadway. “The landlord even wants us to pay rent when we can not operate due to the fire at the upstairs apartment,” the post reads. “We don’t know what will be next for us. Please let us know if you know any location we can move to.”
— Georgia-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A aims to open four new Chicago are locations in January, according to a rep. The first two outposts opened Thursday at 1910 W. Fullerton Avenue in Bucktown (across from the old Vienna Beef Factory) and at 2705 Plainfield Road in suburban Joliet. The remaining spots, slated for South Loop and suburban Elgin, aim to open on January 21.
— The pieces are coming together at hotly-anticipated mini-golf bar the Big Mini Putt Club in Wicker Park, and now owners are launching a contest to get the public excited for an opening. Chicagoans are invited to submit a design for the bar’s ninth hole from January 21 to 31 with a brief description of the inspiration, how to play the hole, and a proposed name. The grand prize winner will get free mini golf for life for themselves and a guest, plus prizes like swag and a private round before the opening. Submit entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.