After nearly 12 months of pandemic struggles for many independent Chicago restaurants, one local couple gave neighborhood Italian spot Club Lucky some extra love ahead of Valentine’s Day — in the form of a $2,000 tip. The gift came from a pair of married diners who went on their first date at the Bucktown restaurant on Friday, February 12 two decades ago and have since made an annual pilgrimage on that date to eat in the same booth, ownership writes on Facebook.
It was a shocking and heartwarming show of goodwill, Club Lucky owner Jim Higgins told Block Club Chicago. The diners, who asked to remain anonymous, requested that their enormous tip (on a $137.33 dinner) be split evenly among staff members who worked that evening.
Higgins, who took over the restaurant in 1990 on the corner of Wabansia and Honore, told reporters that he’s gotten to watch regulars grow up, get married, and start families over the course of his 30-year tenure. To see them return and give back has raised spirts among staff, he says, and helped to reinvigorate a feeling of community and camaraderie.
A local fixture with a charmingly retro atmosphere, Club Lucky has drawn fans of all ages for decades with Italian staples like lasagna Bolognese, chicken marsala, and linguine primavera. The spot is also famed for its very large martinis, which range from classics to specials named for regulars, like the “Catalano Sidecar” named for local saxophonist Frank Catalano.
In other news...
— NBC Sports Chicago tries to make a case for how the Bears could lure former Houston Texan star J.J. Watt thanks to the player’s self-professed weakness for “Chicago staples like Portillo’s and Lou Malnati’s.” FYI: These are two chains with locations outside of Illinois. Not only is this a bad take on what could lure Watt, this is the ugly deep-dish baseball hats all over again: There’s a time and place for Italian beef and enormous pizzas. No one is saying sports reporters should stick to sports, but instead of just hyping up the sponsors and the restaurants sending free food up to the booth, maybe it’s time to explore the city’s diverse food options a bit more? Meanwhile, Watt and Kealia Ohai Watt of the Chicago Stars made a visit over the weekend to LondonHouse. A few weeks ago, Watt showed off his taste when he picked up food from Eater Chicago favorite Robert’s Pizza Co.
Kea and I wanted to order pizza.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 30, 2021
I went to put the order in online, but didn’t think it went through, so I ordered again.
Well the order did go through and now we have 5 pizzas, 2 orders of meatballs and our very own complimentary insulated delivery bag ♂️ pic.twitter.com/NkQGX0zg2c
— Belgian-style pommes frites shop Friistyle has temporarily closed its space on Prarie Avenue due to ongoing temperature-related problems with its HVAC system, according to a Facebook post. Ownership assures customers that the restaurant will reopen at some point, but for the time being plans to create pop-up locations for carryout and delivery within the week. “...Please do not worry, we will be back and we will continue to operate,” the post reads. “Things happen and we will prevail.”
— Hard seltzer fans can set aside the White Claw to try Wayup, a new locally-made option from Hopewell Brewing Co. in Logan Square. Fruity, gluten-free flavors include Citrus Dream (yuzu, tangerine) and Tropical Vision (mango, Key lime, pineapple). Time Out Chicago has more on these fizzy, boozy offerings.
— Chef Dylan Patel (Avec) will represent Chicago at the James Beard Foundation’s Tasting America virtual dining event on March 21, designed to celebrate restaurants and raise funds for businesses struggling during the pandemic, according to a rep. Patel will feature a menu including Moroccan seafood stew and dark chocolate opera cake that attendees can pick up the day of the event. Tickets are $95 per person or $175 for two, with 70 percent of sales going directly to the participating chef’s restaurants and 30 percent to the foundation’s national programming. More details are available online.
— Puerto Rican restaurant the Jibarito Stop in Pilsen has gone on the defensive, making a statement about an employee’s Facebook post that claims she was fired after contracting COVID-19. The restaurant denied all wrong doing and wrote that owners have consulted an attorney.