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A First-Ever Worker Town Hall Brings Restaurant Concerns Into Focus

Plus, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck returns and Honey Butter takes over Half Acre’s Balmoral kitchen with a pop-up

A box of macarons decorated with Hello Kitty’s face.
Hello Kitty madness shows no signs of abating after 48 years.
Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

In the spring of 2020, restaurant and bar workers raised several concerns about their workplaces, showing they were fed up with how they were treated — focusing on pay, harassment, and a lack of support for their overall well beings. Two years later, some of that outcry has subsided, but now local groups are trying to turn the volume back up.

A first-of-its-kind Hospitality Worker Town Hall is coming to Chicago later this month, seeking to tap into a wave of energized labor organizing in the industry. Local restaurant and bar worker groups CHAAD (Chicago Hospitality Accountable Actions Database) and Justice Cream will co-host the collaborative event with hospitality equity nonprofit Studio ATAO from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25 at Beermiscuous, 2812 N. Lincoln Avenue. CHAAD is known for its social media account that encourages workplace discussions. Its staff had lofty hopes of an app with a list of restaurants that were bad actors.

Designed explicitly for employees without direct reports — the event’s an opportunity for participants to raise concerns about the workplace and implement ideas for change, chef and Studio ATAO founder Jenny Dorsey writes to Eater. ATAO is an LA-based non-profit that focuses on social justice within the service industry.

Event organizers will collect and share anonymized recommendations that result from these discussions for future events. Registration is free (attendance will be capped at 50) and available via Eventbrite.

Dorsey and her team plan to take the town halls on the road, though details on future events and locations are not yet available. In the meantime, hospitality employees across the U.S. are continuing to call for unionization. In late September, pro-labor workers at Portland, Oregon icon Voodoo Doughnuts won a union election years in the making, and employees at New Orleans’ lauded Bellegarde Bakery purchased the business from its James Beard Award-nominated founder Graison Gill.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck returns to the suburbs

Beep beep: Hello Kitty (and her gaggle of cute pals) are screeching back into the Chicago suburbs with tons of sweet treats and precious merch featuring the famous cat’s visage, according to a rep. The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 15 at Westview Old Orchard in Skokie and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 22 in downtown Naperville (on Van Buren Street near Lululemon).

A hand holds a giant frosted cookie decorated like Hello Kitty.
It’s Hello Kitty’s world, we just live in it.
Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

Roots Pizza’s chefs series returns with Sarah Grueneberg and more

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Quad-Cities-style pizzeria mini-chain Roots Pizza is releasing a new Chef Series, a menu of limited-edition pies created by some of Chicago’s most well-known chefs. New entries include a Cajun Gator Pizza with alligator sausage and blackened shrimp from Brian Jupiter of Ina Mae, a Ragù Alla Napoletana- inspired Big Ragu Pizza from Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde, and Spanakopita Pizza from Doug Psaltis of Andros Taverna.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken pops up at Half Acre Beer Co.

Avondale’s adored fried chicken spot Honey Butter Fried Chicken will hold a pop-up from Thursday, October 13 through Sunday, October 16 at Half Acre Beer Co., 2050 W. Balmoral Avenue. Known to many fans as HBFC, the restaurant will offer some of its biggest culinary hits as well as a few collaborative dishes for a new spin on things. Half Acre’s kitchen has been vacant for a time. A plan to lure Big Star stalled. Perhaps Honey Butter is looking for something permanent? There’s no comment on that front.

A table laid with sandwiches and sides in baskets and a full glass of beer that reads “Half Acre.”
Fried chicken and beer: a match made in heaven.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken

Ina Mae

1415 North Wood Street, , IL 60622 (773) 360-8320 Visit Website

Half Acre Beer Co

2050 West Balmoral Avenue, , IL 60625 (773) 754-8488 Visit Website

Andros Taverna

2542 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 365-1900 Visit Website

Honey Butter Fried Chicken

3361 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 478-4000 Visit Website

Monteverde

1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041

Beermiscuous

2812 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 855-450-2337 Visit Website

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