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St. Patrick’s Day Returns as Chicago Bar Owners Brace Themselves

Also, Mindy Segal’s bakery hosts a garage sale Saturday in Bucktown

A hot-air balloon flying over Chicago during dusk.
Guiness launched a hot air balloon at the city of its upcoming Chicago brewpub to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Bar owners across Chicago are planning for big weekend ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. Though the holiday isn’t until next week on Thursday, March 17, the city of Chicago’s will hold its official dying of the river on Saturday — a key an indication of when the party will begin.

Last year’s celebration was muted: Mayor Lori Lightfoot initially canceled the river dying before secretly approved the tradition, as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts were still in early stages and she didn’t want to encourage large crowds. Instead, the city pulled off an early morning dye job in hopes of giving residents a little bit of cheer through a tough time dealing with the pandemic.

St. Patrick’s Day 2020 lives in infamy, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker saw crowded, reckless celebrations as the final straw in suspending indoor dining across the state. Many bar owners ignored safety suggestions and crammed customers into taverns, wanting to capitalize on the major holiday. “It’s 8 a.m.,” one Twitter user wrote at the time. “Every bar has a line.”

One of the biggest players in the St. Patrick’s Day scene is famed Irish stout maker Guinness. The company sees double the sales in March versus an average month, a brewery spokesperson says. Given last year’s quiet celebration, the end of mask and vaccine mandates in Chicago has given the beer maker cause to celebrate. It launched a hot-air balloon Wednesday night from the site of its upcoming brewery in Fulton Market — its second in the U.S. In step with Guinness’s national ad campaign, the company’s spokesperson calls this “our first true St. Patrick’s Day since 2019,” which was cause for celebration, and a floating balloon represents “looking up and forward.” The company also launched balloons in Baltimore, Boston, and New York.

The spectacle was also a way to build anticipation, as Guinness plans to open its Chicago brewpub at 375 N. Morgan Street by St. Patrick’s Day 2023, the spokesperson adds.

Certain Chicago neighborhoods have earned an infamous reputation for St. Patrick’s Day revelry, including River North, Old Town, and Wicker Park. Block Club Chicago spoke with bar owners in another bar-heavy area: Wrigleyville. It’s all hands on deck for this weekend.

“It’s a shitshow the entire day,” Mike Pawlowski, a bartender at Roadhouse 66, tells Block Club. “People puking by 10 a.m., a lot of stupid kids. Just balls-to-the-wall from morning to midnight. There’s no stop. There’s no breaks. We try to run everything properly.”

A person firing up a hot-air balloon inside the basket.
Crews fire up the balloon on Wednesday.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
A bagpiper wearing a green sweatshirt and black vest playing music in front of a white hot air balloon that read “GUINNESS HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY.”
What’s St. Patrick’s Day without bagpipes?
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Snag kitchen treasures on Saturday at Mindy’s Bakery

Local baking star Mindy Segal will hold a garage sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at 1747 N. Damen in Bucktown, the former home of her shuttered restaurant HotChocolate, according to an Instagram post. Segal is in the midst of relocating her current operation, Mindy’s Bakery, into a new permanent home inside the now-closed Red Hen Bakery near Wicker Park’s Six Corners intersection.

Capital One leaps into the online restaurant bookings fray

American banking giant Capital One has entered the online restaurant reservation game with this week’s launch of Capital One Dining, a platform offering bookings at upscale restaurants in a handful of major cities including Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco. Local entries thus far include industry favorites like Boka in Lincoln Park, decorated Vietnamese restaurant HaiSous in Pilsen, and splashy steakhouse Maple & Ash in Gold Coast, according to a rep.

Inflation hits Chicagoans where it hurts: at Portillo’s

Portillo’s, the culty Chicago street food chain known for Italian beef sandwiches and hot dogs, has raised prices twice in the past six months as a result of inflation, which has sparked rising costs for staple ingredients like pork, chicken, and beef. Crain’s digs into the nitty gritty of what this means for the brand, which in September 2021 filed to become a publicly traded company.

Mindy’s Bakery

1623 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 489-1747 Visit Website


1729 North Halsted Street, , IL 60614 (312) 337-6070 Visit Website

Maple & Ash

8 West Maple Street, , IL 60610 (312) 944-8888 Visit Website


1800 S. Carpenter St., Chicago, IL Visit Website