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Boka, Lettuce Entertain You, and One Off Want to Deploy Private Security Patrols in West Loop and Fulton Market

Plus, Gov. Pritzker makes to-go cocktails legal for another five years.

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Workers putting up boards at Girl & the Goat
Ever since looting three years ago, as shown by this 2020 photo of workers putting up boards, West Loop restaurant owners have remained worried about customers and property and now want to hire a private security firm.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

CLARIFICATION: While Special Service Areas have been used to fund private security patrols in other parts of the city, the Fulton Market District Improvement Association is not going that route, and instead is asking for sponsorships for local businesses. Updated story follows.

The owners of restaurants including Publican, Girl & the Goat, Federales, and Aba want to raise $800,000 to hire a private security company to patrol Fulton Market and West Loop: “One of the board's objectives is to pursue solutions that make our neighborhoods safer for both our employees and patrons,” says Boka Restuarant Group co-founder Kevin Boehm.

Boehm and Boka’s Rob Katz are part of the group of owners, the Fulton Market District Improvement Association, that’s behind the campaign. Block Club Chicago, which broke the story last week, also reports One Off Hospitality’s Donnie Madia (Publican, Big Star, Avec), Sterling Bay’s Managing Director of Security Erin Belknap (Four Corners, which funds Federales, is part of the developer’s purview), and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ Jay Stieber (Chicago’s largest restaurant group), are part of the effort as members of the association’s board. Other members include developers like Jeff Shapack (Shapack Partners).

The association did not answer Eater’s requests for information about who else sits on the board or about the impact of the patrols, particularly about pushing crime to areas outside patrol boundaries. The association plans to deploy three to four patrol cars between Washington Boulevard, Hubbard Avenue, North Ogden Avenue, and North Halsted Street, according to Block Club. The patrol boundaries precisely cut out the 34th Ward and restaurants like Monteverde.

An increasing number of private groups in Chicago neighborhoods have begun hiring private security to help deter crime such as carjackings, burglaries, and muggings. For example, in 2021, the co-owner of the Bristol, John Ross, was a victim of a carjacking and hospitalized. A year later, Bucktown Neighbors Association hired P4 Security Solutions in December.

The cost in Fulton Market would be $800,000 to hire P4, according to the restaurant owners. At a town hall meeting last week, Madia said they’ve been working on a security proposal for a year. This would be P4’s largest patrol area, as it also works in parts of Lakeview and Lincoln Park. Other neighborhoods have established Special Service Areas, which takes tax money, to pay for such services. The Fulton Market group is not going that route. They’re seeking donations or sponsorships from $1,000 to $100,000.

Armed security teams are often made up of off-duty or retired police officers. No P4 member has ever shot a gun during a patrol, P4 principal Steve Vitale tells the Real Deal. The company communicates with locals using an app.

Street dining and to-go cocktails to continue

Earlier this week, the city of Chicago made its pandemic-era street dining program (which closed streets to car traffic) permanent. The main concern was giving alderpersons the ability to approve permits, which the revised ordinance accomplished. Another pandemic program was also extended as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature made delivery and to-go cocktails legal for another five years, through August 1, 2028. The world did not end, despite the rigor it took to gain approval. Bartenders like Kumiko’s Julia Momose pushed for the measure to help survive when politicians closed bars during the early parts of the pandemic.

South Shore restaurant opportunities

The South Shore is looking to attract more sit-down restaurants. The neighborhood has places like vegan spot Majani and South Shore Brew but lacks a full-service diner like Daley’s Restaurant in Woodlawn. On Saturday, June 3, there’s a panel discussion that aims to give prospective restaurant owners the info they need to succeed. It’s presented by the South Shore Chamber Community Development Corporation and the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. Featured speakers include Craig Richardson of brunch mini-chain Batter & Berries. It’s at 11 a.m. at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Avenue.

Batter & Berries

2748 North Lincoln Avenue, , IL 60614 (773) 248-7710 Visit Website


2820 Commerce Street, , TX 75226 (214) 227-6767 Visit Website


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


1020 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60607 (312) 888-3041

Girl & The Goat

809 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 492-6262 Visit Website

Big Star

, , IL 60613 (773) 857-7120 Visit Website


1011 South Congress Avenue, , TX 78704 (737) 273-0199 Visit Website

South Shore Brew

7101 South Yates Boulevard, , IL 60649 (773) 437-3906 Visit Website

The Bristol

2152 North Damen Avenue, , IL 60647 (773) 862-5555 Visit Website


615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 377-2002 Visit Website

Lettuce Entertain You

5419 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60640 (773) 878-7340


630 West Lake Street, , IL 60661 (312) 285-2912 Visit Website