On the day the James Beard Foundation announced its list of semifinalists, a list that included 17 restaurants from Chicago, a story has published taking a look into the lack of full-service restaurants in a predominantly Black South Side neighborhood.
Block Club Chicago reporter Atavia Reed uses the story behind an upcoming restaurant scheduled to open in the fall, Sikia, as reason to explore why Englewood lacks any sit-down restaurants. It’s been nearly four years since Sikia closed, stripping the area of its only dine-in restaurant, a coveted amenity on the South Side where there are several barriers to development and investment. Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute at Kennedy-King College ran the 12-year-old restaurant.
Restaurants can serve as catalysts in jumpstarting development in other South Side areas including Bronzeville Winery, a sit-down restaurant with a liquor license, that opened in last year. Turner Haus, Chicago’s only brewery in a predominantly Black area, followed and opened at the end of 2023.
Block Club quotes Deon Lucas who notes that South Siders have “the right to experience dining in their community.” Lucas, head of architectural firm E.G. Woode, bemoaned the lack of sit-down restaurants in Englewood, something he and his group of stakeholders desire when doing business in the area. Lucas is also trying to launch a $7.1 million restaurant hub in Englewood with TIF district funds.
The story dives into Englewood’s history and how divestment and white flight have impacted the area. It also features restaurant owners like Darryl Fuery. He runs Haute Brats, a fast-casual spot that debuted in August. Fuery, an Englewood native, talks about the added responsibility he had in proving doubters wrong, that restaurants can work in the area.
The city of Chicago was hopeful that a new Whole Foods and Starbucks could draw more investors. While Starbucks remains, Whole Foods has abandoned the site. Other projects have stalled or been scrapped such as Englewood Brews.