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Chicago Mayor Puts All Her Chips on River West Casino Site

Also, the mysterious (and famous) buyers of Orange Garden’s neon sign are revealed

Close up of a slot machine with the numbers in spin.
Mayor Lightfoot is taking a gamble on a new casino, and predictably, the aldermen are not pleased.
Shutterstock

Chicago has at last chosen a casino site. If all goes according to plan, within two years Chicagoans and, crucially, tourists will be converging at the intersection of Halsted and Chicago in River West, currently occupied by the Tribune printing plant, to play the slots, watch shows, and sun themselves on an “amenity terrace” overlooking the Chicago River.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the announcement in an ungrammatical tweet Thursday morning: “It is with absolute pleasure to announce that I’ve selected Bally’s Chicago at Tribune Publishing Center as the finalist for the Chicago casino.”

The mayor chose Bally’s $1.74 billion proposal over two other sites in the South Loop. In addition to 3,400 slots and 170 gaming tables, a 3,000-seat theater, and a spa and hot tub, Block Club reports the complex will also contain a 500-room hotel, a two-acre park with an outdoor music venue, and six restaurants and cafes and a food hall.

But the mayor’s blessing is not a guarantee that the casino will actually be built, the Tribune warns. First the proposal has to get through city council and already Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) is assembling a coalition of his fellow aldermen to oppose the plan, Block Club reports; they object to the mayor’s lack of transparency while making her decision and demand more community input. Next comes the state gaming board, which can take as long as a year to issue approval. And then there’s construction, though during that phase, Bally’s plans to set up temporary quarters at in the Medinah Temple at 600 N. Wabash Avenue in River North, formerly the Bloomingdale’s Home store.

Orange Garden’s famous neon sign lands in the hands of a famous suburban couple

Numerous Chicagoans prickled with envy at the news that a mysterious buyer had snatched up the iconic neon sign from the 90-year-old Cantonese restaurant Orange Garden at an auction last week. On Friday, the names of its proud new owners were revealed: Chloe Mendel, co-owner of suburban tea shop Madame ZuZu’s, purchased the sign for a cool $17,000 for her husband, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. The Orange Garden sign has been the center of a running bit for the couple, Mendel told the Tribune, so when she stumbled across news of the auction, she leapt at the unusual opportunity. The sign will reportedly be removed on Sunday from its longtime home on Irving Park Road, restored to its illuminated glory (it has remained dark since 2020), and displayed at Madame Zuzu’s in Highland Park.

A Pre-Mother’s Day breakfast in South Shore will celebrate Black moms

Private chef and caterer Cordell Weathers is bringing a “Pre-Mother’s Day Breakfast” for Black moms and mother figures to South Shore on Sunday, serving pancakes and other breakfast foods, according to Block Club. It’s the first Mother’s Day event since 2018 from 32-year-old Chicago-based nonprofit Real Men Charities, and is scheduled for 8:30 - 11 a.m. at the nonprofit’s headquarters, dubbed the Quarry, at 2425 E. 75th Street. Tickets ($10) and more details are available online, and proceeds from the event will go to Real Men Charities.

A Chicago chef has a problem on Top Chef: Houston

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Only six chefs remained on this season of Top Chef: Houston going into Episode 10, and much to the delight of Chicagoans, that included Damarr Brown (Virtue) — the city’s sole contender — who has been turning in a steady and strong performance week after week. On Thursday, however, Brown ran into some of his biggest hiccups thus far, landing in the bottom half for both challenges. He struggled to correctly prepare rice for the Quickfire, a Chipotle-sponsored fajita challenge, and turned out a lackluster meal for the NASA-themed Elimination Challenge, which required chefs to create a dish that would be possible to eat on the International Space Station. Despite his snafus, Brown squeezed into the top five and will have another opportunity to prove his mettle next week. Read a full recap of the episode on Vulture.

Virtue

1462 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, IL

Orange Garden Restaurant

1942 West Irving Park Road, , IL 60613 (773) 525-7479 Visit Website

Medinah Temple

600 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

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