Thursday, May 13, 2021

GoGrocers Adding 3rd Location to the Sloop at 820 S. Michigan

Looks like another convience store is coming to Michigan Avenue:
Nice to see them adding another spot, that said it baffles us how much demand there is for these types of stores.  Sure it's convienient to stay in your building and buy some basic stuff, but couldn't you just a go a block or two in any direction?  Guess not.

By our account, this is GoGrocers 3rd location on Michigan avenue in the South Loop.  All three are within 7 blocks of each other:  1255 S. Michigan, 1400 S. Michigan, and now 820 S. Michigan.  

It's a nice store.  Glad to see them continuing to invest in the neighborhood!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Joffrey Ballet Expanding Into the Sloop with Purchase of Studio at 1920 S. Wabash


Looks like a Chicago institution is expanding into the Sloop (via Joffrey Website):
The Joffrey Ballet is pleased to announce the establishment of new studio space and training facilities at 1920 South Wabash Avenue (formerly the Chicago Dance Academy studios), expanding the Joffrey’s reach to the South Loop and beyond, and marking a major step towards the completion of the organization’s five-year “Joffrey for All” strategic plan.

The expansion of Joffrey’s presence includes the purchase and re-energizing of the former studios of the Chicago Dance Academy, located at 1920 South Wabash Avenue. The space totals 5,314 square feet, with fully equipped studios with sprung floors, harlequin surfaces, and professional-grade sound equipment. The space—which conforms with all American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements—also includes a reception desk and waiting area, as well as two large locker rooms and break room with an expansive foyer, with nearby access to public parking and Chicago Transit Authority Green and Red Lines stops (within a two-block radius) and several CTA bus routes.
A nice addition to the neighborhood.  Welcome to the Sloop Joffrey!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Developers of 1000M Look to Restart Project this Fall

The saga continues at 1000M high-rise (via Urbanize Chicago):

Construction work on "1000M," at stalled 73-story residential high-rise at 1000 S. Michigan Avenue, could resume as early as this fall, its developers revealed Wednesday at a virtual community meeting hosted by Ald. Sophia King.

New York-based developers Time Equities, JK Equities, and Oak Capitals were forced to hit pause on the Helmut Jahn-designed project last summer when sluggish condo sales combined with pandemic-related economic uncertainty led lender Goldman Sachs to pull its financing for the estimated $470 million skyscraper.


Besides the drama of the go-stop-go of this project, an unfortunate piece of news emerged over the weekend as the famed architect of this proposed building and many others - Helmut Jahn - was killed in a bike accident in the northern suburbs. Jahn was 81.

Not sure what that means for this building, but would be nice to see this one actually happen given this sad piece of news.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Would the Bears Really Leave Solider Field?

Some head scratching news came out last week about our favorite NFL neighbor (via CBSsports): 

The Chicago Bears have been playing at Soldier Field since 1971, but that's something that could be changing in the near future. The Bears are apparently thinking about relocating to Arlington Heights, which is a suburb that sits roughly 30 miles outside of Chicago. 

 For the Bears, the allure of Arlington Heights comes from the fact that the city is about to have 326 acres available where a new stadium could be built. The land is currently occupied by the Arlington Park race track, but that building is likely going to be sold in the coming months with the expectation that the new buyer is going to tear it down and re-develop the site.

It seems crazy to think that the Chicago Bears are seriously considering leaving the iconic Soldier Field for a new stadium in ARLINGTON! 

One of the often cited knocks on Soldier field is capacity: 

Soldier Field opened in 1924 and hasn't undergone any sort of major renovation since 2003. The stadium only seats 61,500 and due to spacial constraints, it's unlikely that number will ever be expanded by much, which might be one reason why the Bears eventually make the move to Arlington Heights.

According to wikipedia, Soldier Field is the smallest stadium in the NFL.  Most are in the range of 70,000 - 80,000 seating capacity.  And as most things in the world - but especially in professional sports - money talks.

That said, the conventional wisdom we've heard and read about makes it seem as if this is a negotiation tactic.  For reference, when the Cubs were trying to get the city to allow for some renovations at Wrigley Field, there were reports that the ownership was considering moving to Rosemont!  Sure there are some pros to moving to the burbs, but one of the best assets either of these teams have are their stadium and location in Chicago.

A couple things to remember.  First, Lori Lightfoot recently addressed the rumor and brought up a couple things:

“I've seen a couple of reports. But a couple of data points that I think you should be aware of are the Bears have a lease with Soldier Field until 2033 and the NFL doesn't let any teams break their leases,” Lightfoot said.

“I was just on a call with a senior leadership in the last two weeks. So there are things that they'd like to see differently at Soldier Field, and we want to do whatever we can to accommodate it,” Lightfoot said. “It's a great iconic site, but it's a challenging site.”

Lightfoot was also asked if she believes the Bears are revisiting the idea of potentially relocating as leverage to boost capacity in Soldier Field.

“I think it's incumbent upon us as a city to step up and look at ways in which we can make sure that Bears fans, but also the Bears as an organization, have the best opportunities to maximize the fan experience and of course, maximize revenues. So we're going to keep those conversations going,” Lightfoot said.

Interesting that Lightfoot struck a cordial tone on the topic.  She made it seem like it's on the city to make it work for the Bears organization - which isn't exactly what we expected her to say out of the gate.

One side note that seems related to this story is the gigantic One Central development that is planned just west of Soldier Field.  That development seems hard to fathom in the current world with Covid-19, but if you think about when the Bears contract is up (2033) - could that development vision align with the city's need to "maximize the fan experience" for Bears fans and the organization?   

It still seems like a long shot that One Central will happen, but maybe if it's a way to keep the Bears at Soldier Field it might get a shot in the arm?  Time will tell.

Anyone have thoughts on this one?

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Neighborhood Favorite - Kroll's (1736 S. Michigan) - Reopening Today, May 6th

A couple weeks back we posted about a local favorites decision to reopen.  And just like that Kroll's South Loop (1736 S. Michigan) is back:
This is exciting on many levels.  First off, word on the street is they're retooling some items on the menu and in their kitchen - including a new food fire pizza oven.  

Even more exciting is the fact that they're coming back.  As the neighborhood continues to evolve in numerous ways, it's good to have such a solid, neighborhood oriented bar and restaurant.  Welcome back Kroll's and looking forward to coming over soon!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Is Two-Story Nondescript Parking Garage at 801 S. Wabash a Crime Magnet?

We've walked by this parking lot a thousand times and never thought twice about it.  That has all changed thanks to this article (via CWBChicago.com):

A nondescript two-story parking garage in the Loop is generating a lot of work for police and prosecutors lately. Since April 1, cops have made three arrests, recovered two guns, and seized a lot of pot and other drugs at the easy-to-miss garage at 801 South Wabash, according to prosecutors. It’s the same garage where a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in November.

On top of all of that, police last month included the garage on a list of downtown parking facilities that were being targeted in a wave of auto break-ins across the Loop. Perhaps because of those burglaries, cops have been paying more attention to the garage lately.

The article gives some more details, but still has us scratching our head as to why this is such a magnate for crime.  Anyone have any insight?  Is it low cost?  Low surveillance?

Monday, May 3, 2021

With Warm Weather Here Comes the Obnoxiously Loud Motorcycle Groups

It was a beautiful spring weekend and while the temperature is pleasant, the deafening sound of modified exhaust motorcycles engulfs the city and Sloop.  It's been problem for years now, but there has been some recent news about ways the city and police are intending to make some changes to curtail this nuisance (via Chicago Sun-Times):

With temperatures rising and motorcycle engines revving, Chicago aldermen launched another crackdown Friday to stop motorcycle clubs from wreaking life-threatening havoc on Lake Shore Drive and city streets.

The City Council’s Committee on Public Safety approved an ordinance championed by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) empowering Chicago Police officers to impound motorcycles, dirt bikes and other “nonhighway vehicles” accused of drifting and drag racing.

The ordinance would also impose stiff fines against motorcyclists who operate without license plates.

In January 2020, CPD vowed to “swarm” motorcycle rally points and use helicopters, license plate recognition cameras and noise monitors on Lake Shore Drive to stop motorcycle clubs from continuing to wreak havoc.

The article discusses some of the challenges in a dealing with these issues, but also talks about where the police have had success:

Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said the idea of surrounding motorcyclists stopped at gas stations has been tried before with great success.

“The BP Amoco at Lasalle and Ontario, for example. We used to meet them there and basically block them in the lot. We’d have a Streets and San flatbed. And they would remove stolen motorcycles. They would recover weapons, drugs. They’d get DUI arrests. It was a total jackpot for crime statistics,” Reilly said.

“Those have fallen off. I’m not sure why. But they were effective, and they did send a message when we did them early in the season.”

If you're not familiar with this phenomenon you probably don't live in the area as it's something that is almost impossible to miss.  Regardless, ABC7 has a video that talks to the issue and showcases the what happens:


Hopefully there is serious action vs. just talk this year. Noise nuisance is annoying, but swerving through traffic and going on sidewalks is simply a public hazard. 

In some sense we feel that the bikers view this as a game (to be fair it looks and feels like a video game in our eyes).  The police deterrent element is just a facet of the game, so it seems like they need to have some serious consequences to stop them.  Hopefully the city and police adequately respond.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Moody Tongue (2515 S. Wabash) Achieves Rare Two Stars from Michelin Guide

Wow - big moves by the crew at Moody Tongue Brewery at 2515 S. Wabash!  They earned a prestigious recognition by the crew at Michelin (via Curbed):

Alinea in Lincoln Park remains Chicago’s only three-starred restaurant. The full three stars is a rare honor that’s been bestowed on about 130 restaurants worldwide. There was speculation that Smyth (two stars) in Fulton Market would join chef Grant Achatz’s restaurant, but that didn’t happen. In a rare move, Michelin did award two stars to a pair of new restaurants during their first year of eligibility: Ever and Moody Tongue.

The post on Curbed Chicago goes on about Moody:

Meanwhile, near McCormick Place, Moody Tongue effectively replaces Band of Bohemia as Chicago’s only Michelin-starred brewpub. Moody Tongue relocated from Pilsen, not only moving its brewing operations but also adding a full-service restaurant with a tasting menu. The brewery also brought over Jared Wentworth, a chef who presided over Longman & Eagle in Logan Square during its Michelin-starred days.

While many were optimistic that they would earn a star from Michelin, getting a second star in their first year puts them at the top of the game in Chicago.  For this year's iteration of the list there are only six restaurants in the whole area earning two or more stars:

Three Stars

Alinea


Two Stars

Acadia

Ever (first year)

Moody Tongue (first year)

Oriole

Smyth

If you're a perceptive reader, you will also know that the Sloop's other highly regarded restaurant - Acadia - also is on the list.  That does come as a bit of a surprise given some of the controversy surrounding the restaurant and owner/chef Ryan McCaskey.  As a reminder, there have been allegations of a toxic work environment at Acadia and the restaurant has been closed throughout most of the pandemic.  McCaskey wants to reopen but that remains unclear how and when.

Also of note, the longstanding French staple just north of the Sloop - Everest is off the list.  They closed after a super long run at the end of 2020.  Everest was a consistent Michelin one star restaurant since the inception of the list. 

But the big story is Moody Tongue.  Sure, it's debatable whether or not we can claim them since in our opinion they are technically a little south of the Sloop, but it's not hard to get down to their establishment from the Sloop (although it might be harder to get a table or reservation now....).

As a reminder, word came down in March of 2019 that the Moody Tongue crew would be moving into the space formerly occupied by the Baderbrau Brewery.  They officially opened late in 2019 and all the reviews were very favorable.  The Tribune suspected a Michelin star was in their grasp and Eater Chicago struck a similar sentiment.

Everything we were reading and seeing had us excited.  Just take a look at some of these pictures:



Another interesting twist is the fact that "brewpubs" aren't usually looked upon as favorably as traditional dining concepts.  Despite that perceived challenge it makes Moody's achievement that much more impressive and unique.

Unfortunately we still haven't had a chance to try them out.  We actually had a reservation in April of 2020, but then the pandemic happened - ugh!  Really looking forward to heading down there...assuming we can get in.

Congrats to the crew at Moody Tongue and glad to have you in close proximity to the Sloop! 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

New Mexican Restaurant Moving Into Former SRO Restaurant Space on Dearborn

Mr. South Loop's instagram has an update on a new Mexican restaurant coming to the heart of Printers Row.  As a reminder, Standing Room Only (SRO) closed in the midst of the pandemic at this 610 S. Dearborn location:


Looking forward to seeing what type of Mexican concept will come to this space.  There are already a handful of quick service taco places in the area - Flacos Tacos (725 S. Dearborn), Taco Maya (823 S. State), and Spanglish (555 S. State) to name a few.  Needless to say, hopefully the new restaurant has some form of differentiation.

Regardless, great to see another restaurant coming to an important, high-profile stretch of the neighborhood.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Alderman King Hosts South Loop Cleanup this Saturday from 10a-1p (May 1st)

It feels like Spring and as such, here is a great event to help clean up the Sloop.  This event is being hosted Alderman Sophia King on May 1st (this Saturday).  You can sign-up at this link.  Registration is requested, but not mandatory if you just want to stop by and pitch in.  


(Hat tip: MM!)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Lao Sze Chuan Continues to Expand Out of Chinatown; "Soft" Opens at 616 S. Wabash

One of our favorite Chinatown restaurants - Lao Sze Chaun - is apparently softly opening according to a reader on Hello South Loop:

Here is the "soft opening" menu for South Loop's Lao Sze Chuan, where we ate tonight.  The restaurant is attractive, with tables/booths well-spaced apart.  The food and service are wonderful.  Although not ready yet, there will be a bar.  Highly recommend!


It's interesting to see another Chinatown restaurant expand/move further north away from the core of Chinatown.  Ming Hin opened a huge restaurant at 1234 S. Michigan in 2020.  Additionally My Place moved out of a Chinatown location in favor of a 1307 S. Wabash location in the Sloop. 

Best of luck to the crew at Lao Sze Chaun and welcome to the Sloop!

(Hat tip: SR!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Eater Chicago Gives Some Love to Grail Cafe as a Best Coffeshop to Work From

We see you Grail Cafe (via Eater Chicago - The Best Coffeeshops to Work From in Chicago):

11. The Grail Cafe

715 S Dearborn St

Chicago, IL 60605

This Printer’s Row cafe is ideal for a satisfying and light meal. Creative coffee and teas, a fun French and creole-inspired menu, and friendly service make the Grail Cafe one of most complete restaurants in Chicago.