Thursday, April 9, 2020

When Thirsty Break Glass?

A reader writes:
The South Loop Market @ 1720 S. Michigan Ave. was broken into last night. It looks like someone got thirsty and needed some alcohol...
Pictures attached from this morning.

Sorry to see this, but glad it wasn't worse.  

(Hat tip:  KJ!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

It Appears That Sod Room (1454 S. Michigan) Has Closed

A reader writes:
Word is that Sod Room closed.
That sucks, but appears to be true according to their Facebook page:

Sod Room was a nice place and certainly did a good job providing activity options for children since they opened back in 2013.  That said, there has been certainly an uptick in businesses catering to young families such as Tiny Tunes Studio (69 E. 16th) and Kids Wonderland (2028 S. Michigan.  And there are more coming such as MyGym (1333 S. Wabash).

Anyway, sad to see Sod Room go. 

(Hat tip:  FP!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Church of Scientology Chicago Signage Goes Up on at 650 S. Clark

Looks like there is some new signage going up on S. Clark:

Last we posted about this was back in October of last year as it appeared they were doing some construction and build out work in the building.

For those of you who don't remember or weren't around over 10 years ago, this has been a long time in the making as we posted about it way back in 2009.

It feels like a strange time to be moving in...but maybe that's not surprising to some.

(Hat tip: RG and DK!)

Monday, April 6, 2020

Calling All Local South Loop Restaurants (and Businesses)

Calling all local restaurants (and businesses).  We know it's tough times for everyone, but especially you and your employees.  As such an integral part of our neighborhood, we want to help how we can.

We've posted some things here and there trying to bring attention to your efforts and how you're supporting the neighborhood and staying open.

If you're running any specials or doing something different during these tough times please email us at  

Depending on the response we will do our best to promote what you're doing.

Thanks for all you do!

Sloopin Crew

Friday, April 3, 2020

Lollapalooza: The Antithesis of Social Distancing

We were just thinking about Lollapalooza (via Chicago Tribune):
The widespread coronavirus pandemic has upended most plans for the foreseeable future — with a statewide stay-at-home order in place through the end of April, bars and restaurants closed to dine-in patrons and a growing number of events either canceled or delayed.
But officials still haven’t pulled the plug on the summer mega concert Lollapalooza, which is still months off on the horizon.
"Lollapalooza is on schedule," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "It's our hope and expectation that it will go forward, but we will deal with the circumstances when we are much closer to that time."
Lightfoot was asked Wednesday about the music festival’s status, which is currently scheduled for July 30-Aug. 2 at Grant Park, and whether it should be canceled.
“Well, I think Lollapalooza is scheduled to start about four months from now," Lightfoot said. “If we think about where we were four months previous, or four weeks previous, or even four days previous, what we know is this virus is unpredictable, it’s fluid, the circumstances really are kind of changing day to day.
The statement isn't surprising.  August feels a long time from now and everyone is taking things day-by-day.

That said, Lollapalooza is the antithesis of social distancing.  Just let these pictures sit in:

So yeah....seems like Lollapalooza is getting cancelled this year.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

City to Provide Rooms at Sloop's Hotel Essex to First Responders

Looks like a prominent new Sloop hotel is playing a major role in the city's response to the Covid-19 pandemic (via Chicago Tribune):
The city will provide 274 hotel rooms for Chicago’s paramedics, firefighters and police officers as a respite for those who may have been exposed to people with the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.
The rooms will be provided by the Hotel Essex, 800 S. Michigan Ave., the mayor said, speaking at a graduation ceremony for new Chicago Fire Department paramedics.
“These rooms aren’t for first responders who are themselves sick," Lightfoot said. “We have hospitals for that. However, the reality is that they are coming in contact with the virus everyday and working long, hard hours. And some of them may prefer to stay downtown rather than going home to their spouse, kids or friends.”
Jim Tracy, president of Local 2 of the Chicago Fire Fighters Union, said the new accommodations were a relief.
“Everybody’s got a different situation that they live with, whether they’ve got young children, whether they have somebody with an autoimmune deficiency, whether we have senior citizens or grandparents that we’re taking care of, or grandparents,” Tracy said.

As a reminder the new hotel opened in April last year to much fanfare.  The complex also has a huge, high-end apartment tower next door.  The shared amenities at the building are drool worthy, but we imagine the city's first responders won't be taking advantage of those.  At least they will have the sweeping views of Grant Park, Lake Michigan and our beautiful city.

Obviously the first responders likely don't care about those amenities...but glad to see our local heroes are getting some top-notch care themselves.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Register Your Local Business in University of Chicago's "Shop In Place" Initiative

Tough times for everyone, but especially small, local businesses.  A reader sent us this email:
University of Chicago started a website called "Shop in Place" to list Chicago businesses that are open during the stay-at-home order. Individual businesses need to register themselves and then they will be on the list for residents to see which are open and what kinds of services they are offering.
Here is the link if your a business owner and want to register (or if you're someone who wants to support our local businesses).

(Hat tip:  TG!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

McCormick Place Will Be Setup to Accommodate Overflow Patients if Hospitals System Becomes Overwhelmed

Last week we were sort of surprised to see that the city was utilizing vacant hotels instead of McCormick place to treat overflow patients for covid-19.  Maybe it just wasn't publicly announced yet, because just a couple days ago it was announced (via Chicago Tribune):
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois climbed to more than 5,000 on Monday, work began on converting McCormick Place into a medical facility that could handle a potential crush of COVID-19 cases and help ease growing concerns about a possible bed shortage in the Chicago area.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the lakefront convention center will have 500 beds available by week’s end. The medical center, which is being called an alternate care facility, eventually will be able to hold 3,000 beds for patients, most of whom would have mild symptoms and would not require intensive care.
Another group of 500 beds should be available next week, with 1,250 more by April 20. The final 750 acute care beds will be in place by the end of next month, Pritzker said.

The article does note that McCormick Place is a last resort:
Pritzker said the McCormick facility will only be used as a last resort.
“The first place we are directing patients is to existing hospital beds, maximizing our underutilized hospitals first,” he said. “If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities, we will all be extremely happy.”

Monday, March 30, 2020

Tribune: South Loop neighbors stand outside dying man’s condo to pay tribute in his final days

During these uncertain and challenging times, it's nice to read stories like this.  We're going to post in its entirety (hopefully the Chicago Tribune and the author Heidi Stevens doesn't care) because it's one of those nice things we need right now:
At noon on Saturday, under gray skies threatening rain and the pall of a global pandemic upending life in a million ways, Bill Hession’s friends and neighbors stood outside his South Loop condo and sent up their love.
Hession, 83, was inside his sixth-floor unit, where he lay dying. His daughter, Katie, and his wife, Joan, stood on the balcony, waving at the 60 or so people standing below on Calumet Avenue, just north of 21st Street.
A woman with three kids — two in a double jogging stroller — waved a giant Irish flag. A couple held up a sign written on the back of a roll of gift wrap: “BILL, FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS. LOVE, TORRES FAMILY.” Another man held a sign reading, “We love U Bill Hession.” Another sign: “Thank you for your friendship.”
Most people brought their dogs. A few exchanged elbow bumps. Bill Hession’s son, Daniel, walked around offering thank-you’s and hellos from a safe distance.
At 12:08 p.m., a woman led the group in “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” A few minutes later, another woman walked down Calumet with a portable speaker playing Bing Crosby’s rendition.
“It was amazing,” Katie Hession told me afterward. “I knew my dad touched people. I had no idea how much.”
Bill Hession was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October. He was receiving treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but he moved home March 20 (the one-year anniversary of his only brother’s death) to live out his last days surrounded by his wife, his four children and his beloved dog, Veronica.
Katie Hession knows her dad doesn’t have many days left. He hasn’t eaten since Tuesday. He floats in and out of consciousness, mostly out.
She knows when he passes, she and her mom and her siblings won’t be able to hold a proper wake and funeral for him, given coronavirus-mandated restrictions on crowds.
So she typed up a flyer. She added a photo of her dad walking Veronica. She explained the situation.
“This adds to my family’s heartbreak," she wrote, “he is Irish after all and is so deserving of a fine send-off for a life well lived.”
She invited anyone who might recognize the duo to stand outside his condo Saturday “with more than six feet of social distance” and pay him a small tribute. She would hang a dog leash from the balcony so they knew which one was his.
“I hope you’ll just look up and send up a special thought or prayer to Bill,” she wrote. “He may not see you or hear you, but I hope to capture the procession from above in a photograph and show him how much the neighborhood cares for him, a friend, a fellow dog walker.”
She had six copies of the flyer made at a UPS store and hung them around the neighborhood.
And people showed up.
“We came inside, and I just said, ‘Dad. You had so many dog walkers and friends standing out in front of the building, and they brought their dogs and they sang, ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,’” she told me afterward. “And he opened his eyes a little bit, and he whispered, ‘Oh my God.’”
Bill Hession grew up in Chicago. He graduated in 1954 from Leo Catholic High School, where he was a standout football player. He earned a scholarship to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and married his longtime girlfriend, Joan, his senior year.
After college, he returned to Leo Catholic to coach football and teach Spanish and English. (He was inducted into Leo’s hall of fame in 2011.) As the family and expenses started to grow, he got a job at Reavis High School in Burbank, where he taught and coached for more than 30 years.
At one point on Saturday, a gentleman in a Reavis jacket yelled up to Katie Hession on the balcony, “Your father coached me in football!”
“I told my dad,” Katie Hession said. “You had a Reavis Ram downstairs, and he wanted to thank you for being a great coach.”
Friends and neighbors dropped off cards as well. One was addressed to “The mayor of 2001 S. Calumet and his first lady Veronica.”
Katie Hession, who lives four blocks north of her parents, said she’ll soon be the one walking Veronica, a little bichon found on a Chicago street and saved by an organization called Small Paws Rescue.
“It was a match made in heaven,” Katie Hession said.
Before Bill Hession got sick, the family — Bill, Joan, four kids, nine grandkids — gathered every July in Lake Geneva for a weeklong “Papa-palooza.” (His grandkids call him “Papa,” and his birthday is July 5.) Katie Hession figures they’ll turn that tradition into his memorial this year, “if the world is right by then.”
“He’s a great man and a great person and a great father,” Katie Hession said. “He really deserved this.”
And his people delivered.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

What's Up With All The Shouting (er Singing) at 8pm Everynight?

It appears that some residents have noticed some strange behavior throughout the weeks:
What’s up with the flashing lights, music in the Sloop at 8:00 pm?

Another reader writes:
I was wondering if you or any readers could solve a small mystery!  Have you heard the people screaming and shouting from their windows in the neighborhood at 8pm every night?  Do you know why? 
I've heard about folks in Spain doing something similar as a salute to health care workers, but I haven't been able to track down what the meaning is here.
Well it started on Saturday night and was a city wide thing (via ABC7 Chicago):

The act of unity has continued each night.  One reader sent us this video:

Most of the daily organizing is going on at HSL on Facebook here.  NBC 5 also has an update:
Another massive sing-along - this time to two iconic Queen songs - was set to take place across Chicago Friday as Illinois' stay-at-home order remains in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. 
This week's sing-along was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on March 27, organizers say, inviting everyone to sing "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions."

(Hat tip: JN, AH, BS!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Hilton Chicago at 720 S. Michigan Shuts Down on Friday

Yesterday we spoke about the city tapping hotels to house the sick.  Today it looks likes one of the Sloop's biggest hotels is shutting down for now (via Chicago Tribune):
The artsy 21c Museum Hotel made its River North debut in February. A little over a month later, the 297-room property has gone dark. 
One of the largest hotels in the city will soon follow suit. The 1,544-room Hilton Chicago at 720 S. Michigan Avenue is notifying guests that it will suspend operations as of Friday, Hilton spokeswoman Laura Ford said. 
Like a growing number of hotels, the properties will be closed indefinitely as the new coronavirus continues to cripple the industry and spark massive job losses and cutbacks that are affecting employees in every department, from housekeeping to the c-suite. 
What started a week ago with a couple of luxury properties downtown has turned into a wave of hotel closures across the city. Ace, Loews, Virgin, The Hoxton, Omni, Four Seasons, Chicago Athletic Association, Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, Hotel Zachary — the list of shuttered addresses keeps getting longer, and experts predict there’s more to come.

While I know it's serious times, some entertainment and humor can be beneficial.  With that said, here is the end of the move The Fugitive which ended at the hotel:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Some Vacant Hotels in Chicago to Serve As Coronavirus Overflow Beds Once Hospitals Run Out of Beds

Beyond the fear and uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought to the world, one of the more interesting side stories is how different countries, states and city's deal with the threat.

Obviously big cities get a lot of attention given their population and density.  New York is a current hot spot and we were interested when they mentioned they are going to use the Jacob Javits Center to help alleviate some of the strain and demand being put on their hospital infrastructure.

For those who don't know, the Javits center is a huge convention space similar to our McCormick place campus.  This got us wondering if McCormick Place might be used for overflow patients who were sick, but didn't require ICU type of treatment a hospital could provide?

We haven't seen any news about this and did a quick Google search which didn't provide much insight on the thought.  Instead, it was announced that the city of Chicago was working with hotels to use their empty floors/room to meet the demand of sick patients (via Chicago Tribune):
The city of Chicago plans to rent thousands of hotel rooms to be used for people diagnosed with the new coronavirus or those who believe they’ve been exposed, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus and relieve the burden on hospitals.
By Tuesday, the city will have more than 1,000 rooms in a combined five Chicago hotels available to isolate people who are mildly ill with COVID-19, who fear they’ve been exposed, and for those who are awaiting test results. The city already has an agreement to rent rooms in the 215-room Hotel One Sixty-Six Magnificent Mile, formerly a Cambria hotel.
By the end of this week, there will be more than 2,000 hotel rooms available, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced at a Monday news conference.
“People in Chicago are stepping up and rising tall in this moment,” Lightfoot said.
In addition to helping on the health care front, the effort will provide a source of revenue and continued employment for the hospitality industry, which has been hobbled by travel restrictions and the growing number of cases.

It's an interesting idea and at face value seems like an ingenious solution.  Sure there are a ton of questions - who is paying?  how will the hotels be cleaned afterwards?  are the hotel staffs really equipped to tend to the sick?

Assuming the details get sorted out, it meets the likely demand surge most experts are warning us of and potentially props up a sector of the economy that has been decimated by the shelter in place order.  The article notes some chilling (yet unsurprising) stats about this industry:
Chicago’s decision to rent hotel rooms comes as the hotel industry struggles to weather a plunge in demand for guest rooms. Occupancy levels at hotels in the central business district hovered at nearly 53% during the first week in March and dropped to 35.6% the following week — about half as high as occupancy rates for the same time period last year, according to hotel industry data firm STR.
Occupancy levels are “in the single digits across the city,” Jacobson said. “I heard one of the largest hotels downtown had one flight crew last night of 10 rooms and one other person. Another hotel had a single guest check in earlier last week.”

Will any of the Sloop's hotels be tapped to help here?  It seems like the hotels around Northwestern in Streeterville are likely the first ones that will be utilized, but we will see. 

Regardless, we applaud this thinking by the city and hopefully it lives up to its potential.