Could a new Metra station be in the future for the West Loop? The city has planned a virtual hearing for October 12 to discuss the issue, Crain’s reports, inspired by the rapid growth of the area, including new, or future, corporate neighbors such as McDonald’s, Google, Mondelez, and Tock, staffed by workers who use the Metra commuter train rather than CTA. This could be an opportunity for restaurants, too: the neighborhood is full of places to eat, but very few of them offer quick grab-and-go lunch options.
While there are no concrete plans for the location of the new station, officials have told Crain’s that it’s likely to be near Ashland Avenue, at the western edge of the neighborhood, about a mile and a half from Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center, the two Metra terminals. Currently Metra commuters who work in Fulton Market or West Loop have to travel all the way downtown and double back to get to the office. The traffic has helped sustain Chicago’s French Market, which is rife with to-go choices and located underneath Ogilvie.
The new station would serve 80,000 people per day, many of whom are likely to want something lighter than an Au Cheval burger for lunch. Currently there are a few faster options in the neighborhood, including a Sweetgreen, the Time Out Market Chicago food hall, and, of course, the international McDonald’s at McDonald’s headquarters, but not enough to rival the Loop. Nobody should get too excited yet, though: if the new station does get built, it won’t be ready for another decade. It’ll be part of a larger $1 billion Metra project that also includes a flyover at Western Avenue to relieve the bottleneck of trains headed for downtown.
And in other news...
Chicago’s best is the world’s 70th best
Alinea, the Lincoln Park fine dining restaurant that’s seen by many as the best in Chicago, was named No. 70 on this year’s World 50 Best Restaurants list. While it remains the city’s only three Michelin-starred restaurant, the spendy spot dropped dramatically from its perch at No. 37 in 2019 (there was no list in 2020). The World’s 50 Best had a reputation as a pretty cringey affair — in essence, a bad joke-laden ad spot for exceedingly opulent meals — but in recent years organizers have promised change, with a modicum of success. The awards have released Nos. 51 to 100. They’ll reveal Nos. 1 to 50 on October 5 — the website currently lists the 2019 rankings where Alinea sat at No. 37.
Local pizzaiolos to raise funds and fight hunger on Wednesday in Logan Square
Pizza hotspot Paulie Gee’s Logan Square is hosting a Slice of Summer charity auction dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to raise funds for hunger relief nonprofits No Kid Hungry and Feeding America. The event, featuring six different pizzas from volunteers — including Pizza City USA writer Steve Dolinsky and Jonathan Porter of Chicago Pizza Tours — with pie options a wood-fired Sorrentina: Clinging to Summer (lemon, smoked buffalo mozzarella, basil). Tickets are available until noon Monday via Ebay.
Restaurants need more federal grants — not loans — to stay viable, says Sun-Times
The Sun-Times editorial board on Monday calls for a “generous replenishing” of federal grant funds to help keep struggling restaurants viable as the industry continue to struggle amidst the ongoing pandemic. The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill that was signed into law in March, ran out of money on June 30.