An employee at well-known Pilsen restaurant Cantón Regio claims his boss attacked him, marking the third such accusation leveled against restaurant co-owner Daniel Gutierrez Jr. in as many years. No charges have been filed, but Chicago police were contacted over the weekend.
Restaurant worker Felipe Acevedo, 43, alleges that Gutierrez Jr. hit him on the head from behind on Saturday after a misunderstanding with a waiter, according to Telemundo Chicago. saying he was dragged out of the restaurant like a dog. Chicago police confirmed to reporters that they received a phone call about the incident. Gutierrez Jr. disputed the allegations to Telemundo, saying he had video evidence showing that he never struck Acevedo. However, he hasn’t provided the video to the station and stopped answering its reporter’s questions.
In 2018, another Canton Regio worker, Guadalupe Vega, filed a police report alleging Gutierrez Jr. physically assaulted him after employees brought beer into the restaurant while cleaning up for the night. A series of since-deleted photos shared on social media at the time showed Vega’s battered face, and his wife Veronica Gonzalez told Hoy that Gutierrez “takes advantage of his power” and the vulnerability of undocumented immigrants.
In 2019, Chicago police arrested Gutierrez and charged him with battery for allegedly assaulting 52-year-old employee Jorge Viñali. Gutierrez told Telemundo at the time that he may “have a problem with anger,” and that he was sorry for “what happened.” In January, Chicago officials temporarily shut down the restaurant for operating without a license for more than a year.
Undocumented restaurant workers, the longtime backbone of the hospitality industry in the U.S., are especially vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitation by unscrupulous operators. Many fear pursuing legal actions leave them vulnerable to deportation. A labor attorney who spoke with Telemundo suggests folks can obtain a U Visa, a special visa that protects undocumented workers who are victims of specific crimes so they can seek out legal remedies.
Meanwhile, Canton Regio remains popular, something that’s left some Mexican members of Chicago’s restaurant community confused. One chef tells Eater Chicago that he wonders why a restaurant with a problematic past continues to get support despite the number of Mexican restaurants in town.
In other news...
— A 38-year-old man was fatally shot around 1 a.m. on Monday on the 100 block of North Morgan Street in West Loop, which is near Federales, Shake Shack, and Molly’s Cupcakes. John W. Blackman, who was standing on the sidewalk, was transported to Stroger Hospital where he died. No one is in custody, according to the Sun-Times. The shooting has been characterized as a drive by. Molly’s offered condolences to friends and family members on Monday on social media. No businesses were shut down, though some suffered damage from bullets. It doesn’t appear any nearby restaurants were open during the incident.
— The world of food media in Chicago continues to evolve as Monica Eng has resigned from her post at WBEZ where her beat covered food and health. Eng tells Eater that she will continue her podcast, Chewing, with Tribune critic Louisa Chu. She’s not quite ready to share details of her next move. Eng also teaches food journalism at Northwestern University.
— As Politan Row Chicago remains closed for normal operations, its owners have opened another food hall in Atlanta. The buildout includes a swanky new bar that will open on Friday. Eater Atlanta has details. There has been an update on Politan Row Chicago, the West Loop food hall, since October.
— Eleven Eleven chef Lamar Moore — of Food Network fame — has unveiled a collaboration with KitchFix, the meal kit providers based in West Town. Through August 8, Kitchfix will offer barbecue dishes created by Moore, calling it its Summer BBQ Series.
— Emporium Arcade Bar is back open in Wicker Park and they’re hosting an event next week in partnership with the Puerto Rican Cultural Centers Trans Empower Program. On Thursday, July 29, in an effort to connect members of the LBGTQ community with sexual health, mental health and substance abuse resources, Emporium is throwing an event with a performance from DJ UNiQUE accompanied by scavenger hunts, trivia, and 10 free game tokens. The event’s free for guests 21+.