As Chicagoans rang in the new year and bid farewell to the mess of 2020, local officials shut down an over-capacity New Year’s Eve party at a sports bar in Wrigleyville and ordered it closed until further notice, according to a statement from the city.
Chicago police and fire departments closed down a large gathering at the Dugout, 950 W. Addison Street, on Thursday. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BCAP) will ultimately decide whether to issue citations or a long-term closure order.
This isn’t the first time the Dugout has faced allegations of disregarding COVID-19 regulations designed to help keep workers and patrons from spreading the virus. In August, a frustrated Chicago industry worker recorded a video showing customers inside the bar who ignored social distancing guidelines and weren’t wearing masks past the closing time imposed by the city. Indoor dining was allowed at the time at 25 percent capacity, but venues were also required to enforce masking rules and space out tables. Wrigleyville residents tell Eater Chicago that the Dugout routinely ignored COVID-19 rules during the summer, serving customers indoors after bans were in place and not requiring facial coverings.
Aside from shutting down the Dugout party and a planned neighborhood event in Brainerd on the South Side, the city reported a “relatively quiet” New Year’s Eve, with restaurants and bars largely complying with pandemic rules. It issued seven notices to businesses for pandemic violations — namely hotels including the Godfrey Hotel in River North, Congress Plaza Hotel in the Loop, the Best Western in South Loop, and EuroStars Magnificent Mile.
The evening wasn’t what many local restaurant owners were hoping for. Some Chicago operators have described hearing rumors that the city would allow restaurants to extend outdoor dining hours for the holiday, according to the Tribune. When BCAP announced that the claims were false and enforcement would continue, venues including Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat, Houndstooth Saloon in Lakeview, and Avli Taverna in Lincoln Park canceled late-night events planned for December 31. Houndstooth co-owner Stephanie Cook told the Trib that she thought about going ahead and defying regulations, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth creating problems with the city.
In other news...
— After nearly ten months of pushing for federal support for the hospitality industry, Boka Restaurant Group co-founder Kevin Boehm says the latest COVID-19 stimulus agreement is “maddening” in its disrespect of the restaurant business, according to Crain’s. Boehm is on the board of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a national group that’s advocated for the RESTAURANTS Act, a proposal the House passed in October that would have directed $120 billion into the industry.
— Marz Brewing in Bridgeport and Chicago-based drag performer Denali, currently featured on season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, have collaborated on a booze-free, CBD-infused seltzer called Winter Wildflower Sparkling CBDrag Elixir. A portion of proceeds will go to El Rescate Transitional Living Program, which provides safe housing for LGBTQ and HIV-positive youth experiencing homelessness, according to Block Club Chicago.