Ald. (42nd) Brendan Reilly says he was attacked Thursday night outside Boss Bar, the infamous late-night bar in River North. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is calling for a police investigation after a pair of unknown assailants attacked the alderman. Reilly tells reporters he wants more police officers to be assigned to the area.
Reilly, a member of the City Council for 14 years — one who’s vocal on restaurant issues, as his ward includes River North (a neighborhood full of restaurants and bars) — told reporters he was waiting for a friend around 10:30 p.m. on Thursday outside Boss Bar at 420 N. Clark Street when he noticed two men yelling at him as they stood in the middle of Hubbard Street, according to Block Club Chicago. The incident then rapidly unfolded: the men knocked Reilly down and began punching and kicking him, he says, before a Boss Bar employee pulled them off and they fled.
Reilly says the whole exchange was over in less than a minute, and while he walked away with a few bumps and scrapes, he decided not to call the police — a choice he now regrets, Block Club reports. Reilly has repeatedly asked for a large police presence in River North as restaurant owners complained of property damage due to looting last year.
Though Boss Bar has a license to stay open until 4 a.m. on most nights, under pandemic rules bars must close at midnight and customers are required to wear masks unless seated and eating or drinking. Health experts still treat bars in a different category than restaurants when it comes to risks. They say alcohol consumption and raised voices can help spread the disease, and that it’s harder to follow safety rules at bars.
Lightfoot says an investigation is warranted to ensure Reilly wasn’t targeted because of his position as an elected official, and has directed police and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) to investigate the assault, the Tribune reports.
Boss Bar, an infamous late-night haunt since 1987, for many evokes memories of River North before it became a slick neighborhood. Its name is a reference to Mayor Richard J. Daley’s nickname, immortalized by Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko’s biography, Boss.
The bar’s political legacy lives on, as owner Shay Ghazimoradi has supported Reilly’s career and donated a total of $24,400 over the years either to Reilly’s campaign committee or to the 42nd Ward Democratic Org committee, according to the Tribune. The alderman’s campaign committee has reportedly charged more than $37,000 in expenses at Boss Bar since 2010, with most spending directed toward “Citizens for Reilly” meetings.
In other news...
— Chicago’s Black restaurateurs have developed a unique batch of egg rolls, the popular Chinese-American snack, over recent years. They feature innovative varieties like jerk chicken, cheesesteak, and Italian beef. The Tribune features five of the area’s best, from the famed Dinkey’s Lucky Rolls in suburban Hillside to 3Kings Jerk in Austin.
— Third-party delivery company DoorDash this week launched a new initiative that aims to direct $2 million in grants to small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), women, and immigrants impacted by the pandemic, according to a rep. Applications are open for 100 spots in the Main Street Strong Accelerator Program , and chosen business owners will get $2,000 in grant funding and have access to educational resources. More details and applications are available online.
— 16” On Center, the restaurant company behind Thalia Hall, Pizza Friendly Pizza, and the Promontory, received good news Tuesday when the city’s zoning board approved the redevelopment of the former Morton Salt plant at Elston and Division. The hospitality company will soon announce plans for restaurants and bars in the project. Block Club Chicago has the details; the project now needs City Council approval.
— The first-ever Greektown Restaurant Week will run March 1 through 7 in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, according to a rep. Patrons can expect specials and prix fixe menus from neighborhood spots including longtime favorite Greek Islands and Athena Restaurant. A full list of participating restaurants is available online.
— And finally, team at Goose Island Beer Co. is back with another gimmick. They’re ready for spring and tracking the season’s impending arrival with an 8-foot “Meltdown Meter” planted in a sizable snowdrift outside its Futon Street taproom. As the pile of snow slowly melts away and passes various meter markers, Goose Island will feature special brews, merch, and other perks. Fans can track the meter’s progress on social media.