The vaccination requirement that went into effect at Chicago bars and restaurants on January 3 — and has caused controversy in some communities since then — will be lifted as soon as the city’s COVID-19 spread decreases substantially, possibly by spring, Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s public health commissioner, said at a question-and-answer session last week.
The word “spring,” of course, is a nebulous concept in Chicago, as cold temperatures and even snow have been known to linger as late as April. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has four levels of community transmission. Chicago is currently at “high,” the top of the scale. Arwady said that the vaccine mandate won’t be removed until the city gets down to “medium-low,” the Tribune reports. Meanwhile, bars and restaurants continue to deal with slow business and enforcing the mandate in the face of rude customers.
At the moment, the latest COVID-19 surge seems to have peaked in Chicago. The seven-day average for new cases was 8,093 last Friday, down from an all-time high of 13,701 on January 7 — but it’s still more than ten times the average at the end of October, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker was optimistically predicting an end to the statewide mask mandate by Thanksgiving. The omicron variant arrived instead.
The Packers lose and Wieners Circle customers win free cheddar fries
The Illinois-Wisconsin sports rivalry is sufficiently acrimonious that a Packers loss is still reason for celebration, even if the Bears aren’t playing. It’s a fact that Wieners Circle, the notorious late-night hot dog stand in Lincoln Park, counted on when it tweeted Friday that it would give away all-you-can-eat cheddar fries if the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional series. “Aaron Rodgers hasn’t won a super bowl since Obama’s first term,” the tweet notes. Block Club Chicago has more on San Francisco’s victory, the scene at Wieners Circle, and a pressing staff update: legendary late-night insult artist Roberta “Poochie” Jackson is making videos for fans on Cameo for $50 apiece.
When the @packers lose to the @49ers tomorrow night, we will be giving away all you can eat fries topped with Wisconsin’s finest cheddar, to all bar patrons who would like to celebrate. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t won a super bowl since Obama’s first term pic.twitter.com/D0WxOeCDfn— The Wieners Circle (@TheWienerCircle) January 22, 2022
A nostalgic-yet-novel Italian trattoria enchants a critic
Tribune critic Louisa Chu grants two-and-a-half stars to Peanut Park Trattoria, the new neighborhood restaurant in Little Italy from the owners of deli palace Tempesta Market, thin-crust hit Coalfire, and suburban traditionalist Ristorante Agostino. The trattoria has “everything to do with Chicago history,” Chu writes, weaving the co-owners’ legacies into vivid descriptions of “impeccable” linguine vongole, “so loaded with briny sweet clams, it’s as if [co-owner Tony Fiasche] turned up the volume on the family stereo just a touch.” Other praiseworthy submissions included a 24-ounce grilled bistecca that “rivals not only the city’s best steakhouses, but would turn the head of famous Italian butcher Dario Cecchini,” and the fagioli, gigante white beans in garlic-tomato pork broth that Chu declares a main character merely “masquerading as a side dish.”
Legal weed causes an uptick in cannabis-related calls to the Illinois Poison Center
It’s been two years since Illinois legalized recreational marijuana, and since then, cannabis-related calls to the Illinois Poison Center have nearly doubled, the Tribune reports, from 487 in 2019 to 855 in 2021. Most of these cases have involved edibles, specifically edibles accidentally eaten by children or unwitting visitors like grandparents or babysitters. Still, the number of cannabis-related calls is a very small percentage of the more than 80,000 the center received last year; of those, the highest percentage were for household cleaners, prescription drugs, cosmetics, and alcohol.
Another discrimination suit against McDonald’s gains traction
A federal judge last week denied a request from Chicago-based fast food giant McDonald’s to toss out a discrimination lawsuit brought by Byron Allen, the high-profile businessman and media mogul behind the Weather Channel, according to Crain’s. Allen’s company sued McDonald’s in May 2021 , alleging that the chain almost exclusively spends ad dollars with white-owned television stations, thus discriminating against Black-owned networks like his own. The lawsuit, which was initially dismissed but is now moving ahead with an amended complaint, seeks $10 billion in damages. Undaunted, the chain plans to refile this month. The ruling is the latest chapter in McDonald’s long legal saga regarding claims of racial discrimination.