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Chicago’s Mask and Vaccination Mandates for Bars and Restaurants Will End February 28

Plus, local breweries raise thousands of dollars for Twisted Hippo after a devastating fire in Albany Park

A woman wearing a mask cuts vegetables in a restaurant kitchen.
Restaurants and bars are on the cusp of another pandemic policy change.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Chicago’s mask and vaccination requirements will end on Monday, February 28, the same day the state mask mandate is lifted, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced yesterday. Suburban Cook County will follow suit, the Tribune reports.

Chicagoans will no longer be required to wear masks or show proof of vaccination in most indoor spaces, though individual bars and restaurants could still impose their own requirements, just as they did before the citywide vax mandate began on January 3. Masks will still be required on public transportation, in healthcare settings, and in certain school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools.

Originally, Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s chief public health official, had said that the mandates would only be lifted if three of the four basic COVID-19 transmission metrics were at the two lowest levels for two weeks. The city only reached that point on Monday, Block Club reports, but Arwady said that transmission rates have been dropping steadily and precipitously in the past few weeks. In a gathering of 50 people, she said during the mayor’s announcement, there is a one-in-five chance someone has COVID-19, as opposed to one-in-two, as it was a week ago. As of yesterday, the current daily average number of cases in Chicago was 278, solidly in the “substantial transmission” category, but a significant drop from 871, where it was at the beginning of the month.

Arwady does expect a slight increase in cases after the mandates lift, but she thinks the city should be able to handle it. Lightfoot, who tested positive for COVID last month, says she will continue to wear a mask.

After a devastating fire, Chicago area breweries step up to help Twisted Hippo

Two days after a devastating fire destroyed Twisted Hippo Brewery in Albany Park, supporters and fellow craft beer makers have raised nearly $138,000 on GoFundMe to help displaced staff and help cover repair costs. The fire began around 3:30 a.m. Monday in an apartment neighboring the brewery at 2925 W. Montrose Avenue, according to multiple news reports, before rapidly spreading to Twisted Hippo and a nearby gym, both of which were decimated. A man in his 60s was taken to Swedish Hospital in serious condition due to smoke inhalation, the Trib reports, but no other injuries were reported. The fire’s origins remain in question — Fire Department investigators say it likely began in a gangway between Twisted Hippo and the apartments — and officials are probing the 72 pending court cases associated with landlord Gary Carlson.

Fundraising efforts for the three-year-old Twisted Hippo were spearheaded by Mikerphone Brewing in Elk Grove Village and quickly drew support from other Chicago area breweries including Half Acre, Pipeworks, Lo Rez, and Skeleton Key Brewing in suburban Woodridge. In June, Skeleton Key saw extensive damage after it was hit by a tornado. Mikerphone also led a fundraising campaign, ultimately raising more than $145,000.

A large brewery space with pink and green decorations.
Twisted Hippo opened in 2019 in Albany Park.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Warsaw Inn owner may delay closure after half a century following outpouring of support

The Warsaw Inn, the 50-year-old Polish culinary landmark, may live on after outpouring of support led owner Angie Golom to reconsider closing the restaurant at 2180 Glenwood-Dyer Road in suburban Lynwood, according to the Tribune. Golom on Valentine’s Day announced her plans to retire and close the restaurant on Sunday, February 27, but has since received thousands of phone calls and Facebook comments from patrons hoping to visit one last time. The deluge of well-wishes has prompted Golom to think about delaying the closure and put the business up for sale in the hope that another operator will take it over.

Four Asian restaurants in Uptown were burglarized in February

Burglars this month hit four Asian restaurants — Imm Rice and Beyond, Nhu Lan Bakery & Sandwiches, China Cafe, and Hunan Egg Roll King — and two other businesses in a sweep of break-ins this month in Uptown, according to Block Club. In all cases, thieves sought to take cash out of registers or tip jars. Police have not yet made any arrests.

Chicago chef Brian Jupiter wins “Chopped”

Brian Jupiter, the chef and owner of Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods in Wicker Park and the Frontier in Pulaski Park, won this week’s episode of Food Network cooking show Chopped, a special Black History Month celebration, the Tribune reports. The show requires its chef contestants to create meals from a selection of mystery ingredients. Jupiter served Gullah red rice fritters, a seared pork chop with creamy millet, an okra salad, and, for dessert, a meringue made from whipping the liquid in a can of black-eyed peas and mixing it with fried ham hocks, sorghum molasses, frozen peaches and pralines.

Nhu Lan Bakery & Sandwiches

4810 North Sheridan Road, , IL 60640 (773) 944-9288


1072 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (773) 772-4322 Visit Website

Twisted Hippo

2925 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60618 (708) 844-7768 Visit Website

Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods

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