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An Invasive Fish Gets a Makeover: Asian Carp is Now ‘Copi’ on a Restaurant Menu Near You

Plus, Cook County officials allowed a South Side restaurant to keep operating without paying taxes

A silvery fish is packed into a bed of ice.
Don’t call it Asian carp: it’s copi now.
David Zalaznik/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

There’s an exciting new local fish on Chicago restaurant menus. It’s called copi, and you should try it today! Oh, wait, no. It’s just Asian carp, the notorious invasive species that has driven out most other native fish in the Mississippi River and its tributaries since it was introduced in fish farms and sewage lagoons in the Deep South in the 1960s to help control algae and is now threatening Lake Michigan.

The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spent $600,000 on the rebranding efforts, the Tribune reports, because diners have historically found the name “carp” unappetizing. Span, a Chicago branding agency, came up with the name copi, a play off of “copious.” Because there are so many Asian carp. Officials expect to harvest 50 million pounds annually from the Illinois River alone, and there’s plenty more in other Midwestern waterways. So it would be very helpful if people would eat them.

Copi provides a challenge for chefs, Brian Jupiter of Ina Mae Tavern and Frontier told the Tribune, because it’s so bony and therefore difficult to filet. Many chefs, he predicts, will be using chopped or ground copi; he himself will be putting it in a po’ boy sandwich at Ina Mae. “It has a nice, mild flavor ... a pleasant surprise that should help fix its reputation,” he said. Block Club has a list of other restaurants and fish markets in the city that will be serving and selling copi.

Tax evasion

After years of failing to pay property taxes, the owners of Josephine’s Southern Cooking, a soul food restaurant in Chatham, were in danger of losing the business in 2016 until the Cook County Land Bank Authority, a county agency, put in a claim for the property and wiped out delinquent real estate taxes, the Sun-Times reports. However, the land bank is supposed to put claims on unoccupied properties to keep them from county tax sales, which require buyers to pay off unpaid taxes, so it can sell them directly to buyers in the community who are interested in rehabilitating them. It is not supposed to claim functioning restaurants.

Josephine’s kept operating without paying taxes until 10 months ago when the land bank relinquished its claim. Josephine Wade, who owns the restaurant with her son Victor Love, told the Sun-Times that she was working on paying the $316,000 she owes in back taxes, but if a speculator takes over the property, which is now possible because it’s no longer protected by the land bank, it could only be required to pay just a fraction of the debt. The land bank’s former executive, Robert Rose, declined to explain why the the land bank held onto Josephine’s for so long. But he definitely knew it was open because the land bank held an event there in October 2016.

Loop patio

Drinkers on downtown patios can now stay put until midnight, thanks to a new ordinance that passed at last week’s City Council meeting, Block Club reports. The area encompasses the neighborhoods surrounded by Halsted Street, Chicago Avenue, LaSalle Street and Roosevelt Road, and it lasts until December 1.

Ina Mae

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


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

Josephine's Southern Cooking

436 East 79th Street, , IL 60619 (773) 487-2900 Visit Website