After nearly two decades of outrageous burgers served to loud metal and punk music, Kuma’s Corner is making some changes at its original location in Avondale and its Fulton Market outpost.
At the Avondale location, Kuma’s will make more use of its service window to sell frozen desserts. They’re calling the operation Voodoobar to sell seasonal selections like mint and strawberry gelato cookie sandwiches, caramel nut fudge and churro gelato bars, and lemon and mango Italian ice. Voodoobar debuts Wednesday, June 14 in Avondale.
Over in Fulton Market, where customers tend to graze, the burger specialists will start selling hot dogs later this summer. Though trendy restaurants fill the West Loop and Fulton Market, affordable and quick-serve options are rare — save a few chains like Sweetgreen and Shake Shack. A news release calls the hot dog operation, H.E. Doubleweiners, the antidote for those seeking and quick and affordable option. Each wiener is named after a fictitious evil dog or urban legend. Zoltan is topped with bacon, jalapeño, and beer cheese; Zuul comes with giardiniera relish, caramelized onions, and beer cheese. Kuma’s will see its 4-ounce hot dogs out of its takeout window.
Kuma’s helped usher in a new age of burgers in Chicago when it opened in 2005. There are now four locations — two in Chicago, one in suburban Schaumburg inside Woodfield mall, and another in Indianapolis. While the speaker volume isn’t as loud as when the restaurant, which names burgers after bands, debuted, the mini-chain still harbors a large following.
Chicago could eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage
Mayor Brandon Johnson may not have walked the red carpet at this first James Beard Foundation Gala, but he’s working on an ordinance that will greatly impact restaurants. The newly elected mayor is crafting policy to gradually eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage. This is the wage many restaurants offer servers, insisting they’ll make up the difference in tips, putting more responsibility on customers to pay their workers. Ald. (35th Ward) Carlos Ramirez-Rosa reminds Crain’s that the mayor campaigned on this point, and he’s working with the Illinois Restaurant Association on the policy. Chain restaurants could more easily afford the change, but it might take many independent restaurants a while to adjust; the association worries that if it’s not appropriately implemented, many will close.
Grubhub announces layoffs
Chicago-based Grubhub, the third-party delivery platform, announced it would lay off 15 percent of its corporate workers. An internal memo quotes CEO Howard Migdal writing that the company operated in a “highly competitive and constantly evolving industry.” This follows layoffs at San Francisco-based DoorDash in November when the Grubhub competitor reduced its workforce by 6 percent. Both companies face ongoing lawsuits filed against them by the city of Chicago. Read more in the Tribune.
Alamo Drafthouse under fire in New York
Alamo Drafthouse made a splash when it opened in January near Wrigley Field, given the movie theater chain — which serves full meals — its first Chicago location. In New York, cinema projectionists recently filed a petition to unionize, and the theater’s management has been accused of retaliation. According to New York radio station 1010 Wins, a day after receiving the notice of the petition from the National Labor Relations Board, Alamo sent an email to workers saying they’re eliminating the projectionist position and replacing it with a more expansive technical engineer position. The theater chain is learning to content with unions, as its flagship Austin, Texas location unionized in February 2022.