A Boston-based company that operates under the guise of “Purely Chicago” has purchased the domain name helpchicagorestaurants.com to sell T-shirts with art featuring slices of deep-dish pizza and a baseball pennant decked out in the Chicago Cubs’ blue and red motif. The company has been using targeted ads on Facebook that link users to the site, claiming that “all profits from every shirt will be donated to a specific fund the Illinois Restaurant Association has put together for this fundraiser.”
But an IRA rep tells Eater Chicago that it has nothing to do with the fundraiser or the “Purely Chicago” group, and that they are now taking “the appropriate steps for removal of their business in any connection.”
Since spring 2020, hundreds of restaurants and bars across the country have appealed to the public for help as these venues attempt to stay viable and pay workers during the pandemic. The donations have helped restaurants during government-mandated pandemic shut downs. However, not all donation requests are what they seem
The Purely Chicago brand traces back to a sports site called Purely Boston, which has set up a similar t-shirt fundraiser in New England to benefit the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. The association confirms it’s aware of the fundraiser listed on helpmassrestaurants.com. On that site, company owner Jonathan Holden posted a note urging Bostonian to buy shirts: “Chances are if you’re reading this you are a Dunkin’ Drinkin’ Wicked Pissah Bostonian who loves their hometown roots and community.”
On the Chicago site, the note appears with a tweaked line: “Chances are if you’re reading this you are a deep dish eatin’ ‘I hate the cold Chicagoan’ who loves their hometown roots and community.”
Both shirt designs are from a Boston artist. A message to Purely Boston asking for comment was not immediately returned.
And in other news...
— Backers at Lou Malnati’s, the popular deep dish pizza chain famously maligned by Netflix show Emily in Paris, are exploring a sale of the company, Bloomberg News reported Friday. The company could be valued up to $700 million, an unnamed source told Bloomberg reporters. Originally founded in 1971, the company now operates more than 50 locations and ships items directly to consumers.
— Fast-casual chain Roti is closing six of its Illinois locations as part of a larger downsizing. The chain has recently opened larger stores in locations such as Lincoln Park that were conducive for customers to linger. However, downtown locations haven’t fared as well, as office employees continue to work from home during the pandemic. The Tribune has details.
— Washington Post dining critic Tom Sietsema laments the losses of his Chicago brethren in a story about how former Tribune critic Phil Vettel and ABC 7 Chicago’s Steve Dolinsky’s departures will affect the city’s national standing. The story avoids the trap of reducing Chicago’s dining scene to deep dish pizza (a frequent habit of national publications), but it also didn’t consider the effects of Alden Capital Group looming over the Tribune like the Death Star. However, there might be good news on that front thanks to a new bid to buy the paper. One note, Mr. Sietsema: it’s Eater Chicago, not Chicago Eater.