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Chicago’s Mayor Wants Restaurants to Serve Kids Healthy Drinks, Which They Were Doing Anyway

Plus, Sunday Dinner Club goes on a hiatus

General Images From Inside A McDonald’s Restaurant
A Happy Meal, served with milk
Getty Images

In an effort to curb childhood obesity, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago department of public health proposed a new ordinance on Wednesday that would make healthy drinks like milk or fruit juice the default option for kids’ meals in the city, though parents are more than welcome to ask for chocolate milk or soda.

This is an admirable effort, since, as the press release noted — featuring triumphant quotes from Lightfoot and city health department commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady — many kids consume two or three times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, usually in the form of sugary drinks. It is far better for them to drink water (still or sparkling) or juice (100 percent fruit or vegetable) or milk (skim or 1 percent). As a matter of fact, there is already a state law that mandates the exact same thing, the Serve Kids Better Act, which goes into effect January 1, and carries fines up to $100 for violators. The earliest the Chicago City Council could adopt Lightfoot’s proposal would be in Late January.

As it happens, McDonald’s, the nation’s leading seller of fast food, essentially made healthy drinks the default option for Happy Meals back in 2013, when it established a new policy of not featuring soda in ads or on menu boards. Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Culver’s also only depict their kids’ meals with a nice, tall, and healthy glass of milk.

So this new ordinance is essentially a perfect law: a duplicate of an existing state law that, in turn, requires restaurants to do something they were already doing anyway in the service of a cause that no one would dare criticize, and everyone gets to feel good about themselves because kids will be drinking milk with their burgers and fries.

Sunday Dinner Club Takes Break

Sunday Dinner Club, the influential pop-up dinner series that led to the creation of Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Avondale, is going on hiatus. SDC has found a permanent space above Honey Butter, but via an Instagram post, owners Christine Cikowksi and Josh Kulp say they “are drained and need a break.” This weekend’s offerings will be their last for a while.

Francesca’s rebrands

Scott Harris, the owner of restaurants such as Mia Francesca’s — the Italian chain in the city and suburbs — wants to energize his brand. Harris, who at one time partnered with Purple Pig, has changed the name of Francesca’s Restaurant Group to Scott Harris Hospitality. The shift represents a “refreshed emphasis on chef-driven food and beverage programs,” according to a news release.

The latest on Pilsen food truck fire

Taco Sublime, a food truck in Pilsen that aids the poor and underprivileged, burned down last weekend. The Tribune checks in with its owner to see how recovery is going.

Bernice’s successfully renews license

Things looked grim in October for Bernice’s Tavern, with the South Side dive bar turning to the public to raise the $4,400 it needed to renew its liquor license. But there’s joy in Bridgeport as the campaign netted $5,355, and bar ownership renewed its license earlier this week.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

3361 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 478-4000 Visit Website

Mia Francesca

3311 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60657 773 281 3310

Bernice's Tavern

3238 South Halsted Street, , IL 60608 (312) 961-5516