Saturday, January 30, 2010

Shots Around the Sloop: Ghost Sign

A ghost sign is a term for old hand painted advertising or signage that has been preserved on a building for an extended period of time, whether by actively keeping it or choosing not to destroy it.

So where in the Sloop is this ghost sign?

Update: FGFM is almost correct! This is on the east side of Wabash (between 13th and 14th) and is the on the south wall of the building next to Utopia. Here is a better picture of the surroundings:

Never been to Tantrum...but Intrigued

Like I said, we've never been to Tantrum (1023 South State Street) but would like to at some point. The name kind of turns me off, but it still would be interesting to check out especially if they spin classic hip-hop at the place like is stated by this little review from a ChicagoNow blogger:
I can admit that long before that alcohol settled in my system, I appreciated the 30-40-aged crowd in the building. The DJ was spinning the best mix of classic R&B music and some of the more tolerable Top 40 music of today. The speakers delivered the music in a mid-range instead of thumping in my ear. I could hear myself think and enjoy my conversations without rupturing someone's eardrum from yelling.
Not the most exciting review, but a good look into a place we've heard little about.


(Image from Tantrum's Website)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Is the Cast at Opera Shrinking?

We recently received an email from a reader asking about Opera (at the southeast corner of Wabash and 13th):
I just found this blog-- it's fantastic. I was wondering about Opera-- I've been there many times and it's fantastic. However, a good friend of mine reports that last week the food was of much lower quality, and that one of the waiters claimed that there had been significant cutbacks. I was wondering if maybe anyone has heard of that? It would be a real tragedy-- that's one of the best places in the South Loop!

We like this place, however we know some people are not the biggest fans of Opera. It might not be the best restaurant in the city, but we still think it's a cool, unique place that brings people into the neighborhood (that typically wouldn't come here).

Anyone have any thoughts on this rumor?

Things to Do this Weekend Around the Sloop

Although it ain't going to be warm this weekend, you should still put a couple pairs of pants on and wander over to "Snow Days Chicago" which starts today at Grant Park (specifically at the corner of Balbo and Michigan). We didn't know much about it last year and randomly stumbled upon it and had a great time. They have some snow boarding competition as well as some very impressive snow sculptures.

If you would rather do something inside, but not in your place, the Spertus Museum has an interesting lecture topic on Sunday:
In Behalf of the Israelites
Abraham Lincoln’s Jewish Controversies

Sunday, January 31 at 2 pm
Spertus, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Finally, although not technically in the Sloop you could go over to UIC to support the Windy City Rollers:

CHEER. The Windy City Rollers open their home season with FLAT TRACK ROLLER DERBY at UIC Pavilion. This all-female match-up includes Hell's Belles vs. Double Crossers and Manic Attackers vs. The Fury. Jan. 30, 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $21 at the door. 525 S. Racine Ave., www.windycityrollers.com.

Or you can just sit inside, watch a movie and stay warm...I wouldn't blame you.

(Hat Tip Nick D!)

(Image from snowdayschicago.com)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Old St. Marry's to Build New Building for Grade School

We've heard about this, but can't remember reading about it, but today we saw a rendering (below) and release on chicagorealestatedaily.com about a new catholic school being built by Old St. Marry's Church. The first comment on the story is negative (and valid in some capacity), but overall it seems like a good thing for the area:
The Archdiocese of Chicago plans to start work in June on a new school building on a South Loop site purchased from a venture including restaurateur Matthew O’Malley.

The 33,000-square-foot elementary school building is to be completed in 2011 next to Old St. Mary’s, 1500 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago’s oldest parish that has seen its school’s enrollment grow amid the housing boom on the Near South Side. The school is currently located in a 12,000-square-foot former warehouse.

Another Way to Help Haiti in the Sloop on Sun Jan 31st

Reggie's Rock Club!
ROCK. The opportunities to donate to Haiti continue at Reggie's Rock Club, with EVERY DROP COUNTS. This show features He Say She Say, The Cool Kids, Jean Grae and many others. All proceeds from merchandise, as well as ticket sales, benefit World Water Relief. Jan. 31, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, ages 17 and older only. 2109 S. State St., (312) 949-0125, illroots.com.
A good reason to catch a couple solid hip-hop acts and support a ravished country.

Here are Chicago's own Cool Kids:

Catching Up With Buddy's 'Superfans'

We've had a couple postings (here is a link to our trip to the club) about Buddy's annual January shows and today we read a fun article on the topic via Chicago Sun-Times. They specifically reference and talk to the 'superfans' who come and line-up on the first Saturday before Buddy's first weekend at the club. A good read for the fans...

T-Shirt Contest Design Submission Reminder - Only 4 Days Left

Hey Sloopers!

The final submission date (1/31/2010) is rapidly approaching for our t-shirt contest. So if you're thinking about submitting something send it on over to sloopin@gmail.com.

For more information on the contest, click this link.

We also had a comment about releasing the eps file of our logo. Unfortunately we don't have that, but the logo uses the 'Alba' font.

Also, thanks for the thoughts on the cost. Once we get a winner for the design, we will do some leg work on costs and figure out what we will charge.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

July 3rd Fireworks on Navy Pier Downsized

In an effort to save some money, the city is cancelling annual July 3rd fireworks show that is held at Navy Pier. When we saw the article we were a little disappointed, but after reading it we've changed our minds.

If you've ever been to this show (or the taste of Chicago on July 3rd) you know it's a zoo! People everywhere! Unfortunately in recent years this has boiled over into gun violence. By changing this up, it sounds like the city will hopefully divert some of the crowds from converging on downtown.

The show will be scaled down and be conducted at three different spots on July 4th. One north, one south and one at Navy Pier still. While the show might not be as spectacular or as long (from 18 minutes to 15 minutes), it's still a show and something for Sloopers to do if they're around. As a result we can still enjoy some fireworks on July 4th and hopefully we'll have a little more space this year.

Retail Rumors...A little South of the Sloop

We've been told there are two retail moves going on a little south of what we consider the Sloop:
The Wine Consortium is moving into the Retail portion of the Motor Row Lofts.
Currently, they are tucked on the side of 23rd Street off Michigan Ave.
They are having a Grand Closing event this Saturday, Jan 23rd.
Here is the link to their website. To be honest, we don't know much about this, but thought we would do a post for those of you who are interested (also here is the link to everyblock's page about the Wine Consortiums liquor application).

Also, a friend of Sloopin recently mentioned that there was a new restaurant going in at 26th and State. Not sure about the place though, we did a couple quick searches but couldn't find much. Keep your ears and eyes open!

(Hat Tip: Solo MotorRow and LCR!)

Whatcha Up to Tonight? Huffington in the Sloop

According to NBC 5:
HUFF AND PUFF: Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington will aggregate some pearls of wisdom at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema. Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet will also be on hand to moderate the event. 1104 S. Wabash Ave., Eight Floor; South Loop. 7 p.m.

For more info here is a release from Columbia College.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whatever Happened to South Loop Commons?

We've seen the sign for South Loop Commons on the corner of Taylor and Canal, but just assumed it was one of many dead real estate projects (and it probably is), but today we got an email from an inquiring reader:
I was wondering if you could post this question as I have tried to research what happened to this development to no avail: South Loop Commons that was to be located on Canal and Taylor.
So the question is, does anyone know whatever happened with this development?

For more background here is an old 2006 Chicagobusiness.com article on the development. And here is a .pdf file that is a fun read (it looks like it was a sales presentation for potential occupants). Although we assume it's not happening, does anyone know the background?

(Hat Tip: VR!)
(Image From SierraAdvisors.com)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Columbia's Media Production Center Opens Today

If you didn't catch it on the Chicago Journal website, today is the official opening of Columbia's Media Production center. Columbia also had a press release on it's website if you're interested on getting more background, but here is an excerpt:
Columbia College Chicago's new 35,500-square-foot Media Production Center (MPC), the first new-construction building erected in the college’s 120-year history, opens to students with the beginning of spring semester classes January 25, 2010. The opening comes just 13 months after the initial groundbreaking.

(image from Columbia College Chicago's Website)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gourmet Chicken and Chef Luciano: Solid, Well Seasoned Food!

The greater South Loop has gone through many dramatic changes over the past 30 years, but one thing has remained relatively consistent, Dave Gupta's restaurants at the corner of Cermak and Wabash. You've probably walked or driven by the place many times and probably questioned the unique signs. Don't be confused or turned off, there is solid food inside.

Back in 1982, Dave Goupta opened up Gourmet Chicken which is the restaurant at the corner of Wabash and Cermak (43 East Cermak or the sign all the way on the right in the picture above). As the name alludes, the focus of the restaurant is on chicken. The restaurant is primarily a takeout spot, but there are a couple tables inside if you want to eat at the restaurant.

Over the years he has also acquired more and more space next door and eventually opened up another restaurant called Chef Luciano (49 east Cermak or the sign all the way to the left on the picture above).

We've been wanting to check it out and lucky fo
r us, the Chef's son, Rocky, recently reached out to us and invited us to try their wide array of food. As you can imagine, we said yes!

Since we've read a lot about this restaurant and have always been intrigued, we felt our review might be a little biased, so we invited a couple friends over for a blind taste test just to ensure we would get some objective opinions.

Here is what they gave us for the taste test:
  • Fried Jumbo Chicken Wings (this has been a staple at the restaurant since the beginning)
  • Roasted Chicken (this is a newer specialty)
  • Fresh Salmon
  • Caesar Salad (also something that they're known for according to Rocky)
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Black Beans
As you can see a pretty wide range of food. After everyone ate, the general consensus was that everything was 'solid', which was pretty impressive giving the diversity of the food. The one consistency in every dish was the seasoning. As a result everything was very flavorful (for one person this was too much, but for everyone else it seemed to be a good thing).

Personally I found the Chicken to be great, moist and flavorful. Personally I liked the roasted chicken better, but the fried chicken was still good. The salmon had some form of rub on it that was bold and very tasty.

Generally speaking I don't like creamy dishes so typically Chicken Alfredo is not one of my favorites. However their version of this dish seemed to be less creamy then your standard Chicken Alfredo. Like I said, I don't really like this dish, but I enjoyed theirs. Again, the Chicken in the dish was very flavorful and had a good amount of seasoning (seemed like it had more seasoning then the roasted or fried chicken).

I'm a huge salad fan and their Caesar didn't disappoint. I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but this also had a ton of seasoning (which mostly looked like black pepper). Although I didn't try the black bean or the black eyed peas, the people who did seemed to really enjoy them. Of course, these also had good flavor and seasoning according to our friends.

So the moral of the story...very flavorful food with a lot of seasoning. If you're the type of person who doesn't like spices and seasoning then you should probably steer clear of this place. If you're looking for trendy, fancy food, again not the best place for you. However, if you're looking for a wide range of quality food that is reasonably priced then we highly recommend both restaurants.

Also of note is that there are going to be some major renovations going on that restaurant. From what it sounds like there will be more seating and some upgrades to the facade.

For more information about the restaurants check out this review by ABC7's Hungry Hound.

Britten to Open Showroom at 1420 S. Michigan

A reader recently mentioned that they saw some activity within the two story building next to Grace O'Malley's (1420 S. Michigan) and they were definitely right. There was some speculation that a bar was going to open up there, but it looks like a printing company, Britten, is set to open up their first showroom.

Although a bar, restaurant or retail store would have been nice, to be honest it's just nice to have one of the numerous vacant retail spaces on the street filled. It looks like they will be opening up shop within a couple of weeks. Welcome to the neighborhood!

For more on the announcement from Britten check out this PR link.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sources for Local Politcal Races

With the February 2nd local elections looming, we've been reading about some of the races at various places. This week the Chicago Journal had a good run down on the different races and some of the key differentiating issues supported by the candidates. They also had a recent blog post about the candidates fundraising efforts.

We also frequently get an email newsletter titled "Enrique's Community Updates". According to a recent email blast, a week from Saturday (1/30) they're hosting a get to know the candidates event at the Hotel Blake (500 S. Dearborn) from 10am to 4pm.

Finally, we also received an email from the David Shroeder campaign notifying us of his candidacy for the state representative in the 5th district. It was also noted that he is a proud South Loop resident. For more information on him, check out his website here. To be fair to the other candidates, here are their respective websites:

We Like Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, So...

Ok, so this really doesn't have anything to do with the Sloop, but as most readers know we're huge Buddy Guy fans (see link here). Anyway, here is a slick T-mobile commercial with Eric Clapton where he gets a call from Buddy Guy. Nothing relevant, just a good commercial if you're a fan:


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deals in January at Gioco and Opera

We like good food on the cheap, so we were glad to read about this on the Time Out blog:
Opera
This swanky South Loop Chinese restaurant offers a $28.95 three-course deal on Sundays and Tuesdays. (And for the rest of January, Opera and its sister restaurants Red Light, Marche and Gioco are offering a $20 soup-or-salad and entrĂ©e dinner. It’s only $10 for lunch.)
Savings compared to RW:$3.05
That January offer is sweet!

A New Bar for State Street?

It looks like "Jimmy Greens Tavern" just applied for a liquor license at 825 S. State Street according to Everyblock. I think that's the same retail complex with X Sport & Lou Malnatis (however it could be in the complex where LA Boxing just went in, not sure).

Anyway, if you walk by the building you can see the skeleton of the bar and some progress being made. Good to potentially have another local option for drinks (and presumably food) in the hood.

(Hat Tip SoloMotorRow!)

Free H1N1 Vaccinations

We will act like your mother today...go get vaccinated:
Free H1N1 Immunization Clinic

When: Saturday January 23rd, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Old St. Mary's Catholic Church,
1500 S. Michigan Ave.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is offering free H1N1 vaccines to all 2nd Ward residents at Alderman Bob Fioretti's request. If you have not yet been immunized and wish to be - come out to Old St. Mary's this Saturday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Help Haiti in the Sloop

The devastation in Haiti is heart breaking. Besides donating money or eating at restaurants around the city, there are other ways to help. Today we read that House of Sole (1237 S. Michigan) will be participating in a shoe drive that helps victims in Haiti:
Nashville-based Soles4Soles is expanding its regular SHOE DRIVE FOR THE NEEDY to meet its goal of providing one million pairs of shoes and boots to those in Haiti. Clean out your closet and then head to the South Loop's House of Sole to drop off your gently-used footwear for the drive. With all that space in your closet, you can buy a new pair while you're there. 1237 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 834-0909, www.houseofsole.net.

(Image from stitches fashion program)

City Takes on Management of Maxwell Street Market

The Maxwell Street Market (on Desplaines between Roosevelt and Harrison) is an interesting, historic, iconic and controversial thing. It's been moved, closed, re-opened, but it's still around.

According to a post we read on the Chicagoist today it sounds as if the city is now going to be managing the market:
The historic Maxwell Street Market has been through several changes since it first opened in the late 1800s. It was closed down in the mid-90s due to the expressway and new developments and then relocated to Canal Street. In 2008, it moved to its current location on Desplaines Street between Harrison and Roosevelt. The market will now be managed by the city. The Daley Administration terminated its $850,000-a-year contract with JAM Productions, according to the Sun-Times.
According to the post on the Chicagoist it will save the city $350,000 a year.

Prediction: It's Going to be a Good Decade for South Side

Yesterday we read an article in the Chicago Sun-Times titled, "Prediction: Near South Side Set to Boom". Although it focuses on the broader south side area, it obviously touches upon various reasons why many in the South Loop like the area so much:
What’s the next high-demand neighborhood set to emerge? Where will the next city real estate boom occur? Look no further than along Lake Michigan, the Windy City’s big blue front yard, where new harbors, boat slips, parks and beaches are planned. It is likely that much of the future lakefront housing will be developed between now and 2020 in the South Loop and Near South Side, surrounding McCormick Place, planners say.
The entire article sounds like a sales pitch to us, but regardless it's a compelling one. We were a little skeptical after reading it, but it was still interesting.

T-Shirt Contest!

Just a friendly reminder that submissions for the t-shirt contest are due at the end of the month. We've received a couple entries already, but are always looking for more. As a reminder, here is the link to the post about the contest and there is a banner on the right for more information as well.

Also, if you don't have graphic design capabilities, but have a great concept don't hesitate to send it our way (sloopin@gmail.com). We can try our best to design the shirt based on your concept.

Thanks again!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kerasotes Sells Theaters to AMC...But Not New Roosevelt Collection Theater

A reader just commented about this transaction and sure enough it seems to be true. According to Crain's Kerasotes has agreed to sell 93 of it's 96 regional theaters to AMC. However, it seems like they're holding on to the new ICON theater that just opened in the South Loop recently:
AMC will take over 93 of Kerasotes’ 96 movie theaters. Tony and Dean Kerasotes will continue to own and operate the ShowPlace Icon theater that opened in December on Roosevelt Road near Clark Street. The men will also retain an Icon theater in Minneapolis and a ShowPlace theater in Secaucus, N.J.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Our initial read is that they (Kerasotes) values the new theater, which is a good thing. What do you think?

How Much Does a 1 Bedroom Rental Cost in the Sloop?

Courtesy of YoChicago:
For floor plans check out the link here.

A New Place Going In at Howie's Old Spot?

We recently saw a light on at the old Howie's restaurant (1310 S. Wabash) but didn't think much of it. However, over the weekend we received an email from a reader about the space:
We received a public notice in our mailbox from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, Local Liquor Control Commission. After a rousing Friday night thanks to guests leaving Utopia, we were still excited to be informed that an outfit called "Flo and Santo LLC" has applied for a liquor license at 1310 S. Wabash, Howie's old location. They've asked for any objections to be sent to their office, but I think we're all for it. After some Googling, it looks like they've requested to have a catering liquor license and a license to allow consumption on the premises. All sounds good to us!

Sure enough, thanks to everyblock, a "Flo and Santo LLC" has applied for an on premise and catering liquor license at 1310 S. Wabash. So obviously it looks as if something is going to be moving into this space.

Upon doing some more googling, we found that there is a restaurant in the Ukrainian Village (1434 W Chicago) called Flo Cafe and Bar. Although this is complete speculation, maybe it's associated with this space. They do have a specific tab on their website dedicated to catering.

Regardless, glad to see that there probably will be a new cafe/restaurant opening in this space!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's Going on With Lexington Park Condos?

A reader writes:
Just a heads up that I drove by Lexington Park Condos at Indiana/Cermak yesterday and it appears that while the place is pretty much done, workers are on strike. they were picketing outside. I am unsure if they are building out the commercial space, or if they are still doing residential spaces inside. The tower still looks pretty dark from the outside when I approach it from the west in the evenings.

Anyone know what's going on with this building? Inquiring minds want to know.

(Hat tip to J!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help Haiti! Eat Here!

Eat/Go here:
Tapas Valencia in the South Loop will donate all of its dinner sales on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to the American Red Cross for the emergency.

Cuatro on the Near South Side hosts “House for Haiti” tonight from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with DJs Derrick Carter, Vick Lavender, David Sabat and Glenn Underground. All proceeds from the $20 cover charge benefit Mission to North America’s Haitian disaster relief efforts.

For other restaurants around Chicago helping Haiti here is a link.

Demolition of Old YMCA Building has Begun

The demolition of the old YMCA building at 830 S. Michigan is underway (old Sloopin posts about the story here). We saw it with our own eyes (it looks like they were starting with the back of the building). It was also confirmed on the Chicago Tribunes Cityscapes blog recently.


(Image from Chicagotribune.com)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cuatro's Sunday Bossa Nova Brunch Makes People Want to Dance...Literally

We've heard a lot of good things about Cuatro (2030 S. Wabash) from friends and acquaintances but have never been until recently. They mostly spoke about the stylish decor and swanky people hanging out at night. Although we can't vouch for that, it's pretty easy to picture.

Anyway, a couple friends of ours invited us to meet them at Cuatro for their "Bossa Nova Brunch", which happens every Sunday. Cuatro opens at 10am and that's when we were meeting them. We were a little early and the place was obviously just opening. One man sat by himself at the table and enjoyed some coffee with a newspaper. The rest of the people there seemed to be part of the staff and scattered around the place.

As we were greeted and seated, it was impossible not to notice the club music pounding from what appeared to be the kitchen. Although we were not exactly sure why the music was so loud, we joked that the party from last night was just ending. Doubtful...but maybe?

The decor in Cuatro was trendy. Art hanging everywhere and a unique feel aroudnd the whole place (especially given the industrial/commercial businesses neighboring the restaurant on South Wabash). We were quickly waited upon since there wasn't many people there and our friends ordered some mimosas, so I obviously had to follow suit.

Upon receiving the drinks (that were refreshing by the way), we ordered our food. The menu at Cuatro was different then many places we've been. I haven't eaten much Latin American food, so anything I saw was going to be a new experience. Although we could have opted for something pretty exotic, everyone went for safe choices. Two orders of Tropical Pancakes which sounded and from what they said tasted delicious:
Coconut milk pancakes studded with fresh pineapple, mango and toasted pecans, served with warm pure Vermont maple syrup.
Being that I'm not a huge fan of traditional brunch I went for a sandwich, which had a sweet but spicy sauce, avocado, Chicken and some other things I can't even remember. It was solid and unique, but I wasn't a huge fan of it and probably would get something different when I go next time. I also had a side of the purple Peruvian fries, which again were interesting but just so so.

The best thing was that about half through our meal (say 10:45ish) the Bossa Nova band was up and running, playing great grooves and really adding to the atmosphere. So much so that a couple decided they were going to start to dance (and by dance I mean the girl was doing some awkward shaking and the guy was not sure what to do). Although it didn't seem to faze many patrons in the restaurant, it was a little awkward in my book for 10:45am.

Regardless, it was a fun, cool place and something I would recommend. Just don't get a sandwich for brunch (but that probably goes without saying...). And I wouldn't recommend 10am...go a little later so you can enjoy the Bossa Nova!

Derailment at Red Line Roosevelt Stop

Early in the morning it sounds as if there was a derailment at the Roosevelt red line stop this morning. Only two people were hurt and it looks like service is fine.

For more info here is a link to the Chicago Tribune coverage:
"As we approached Roosevelt, the train started to jerk a little. It was running on a single track and then it kind of fell off its wheel on a track, hit the platform, sparks flashed, lights went off and smoke was everywhere," Hicks said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Plan to Save McPier & Chicago's Convention Business

Chicagobusiness.com has a good recap about Governor Quinn and Mayor Daley's plan to save the city's convention biz. Since McCormick Place is on the boundaries of the Sloop we feel it's important to stay up on this topic. If McCormick Place flourishes, the south side of the Sloop and the Cermak corridor will likely see substantial growth in the years to come.

(Hat tip to SoloMotorRow)

Obama's Movie Theater of Choice?

Just read a review of the ICON theater at Roosevelt Collection. Not much new information, except for this odd prediction:
The theater is for the sophisticated theater goer. There is a certain romance here, that is inviting. And when the Obamas visit Chicago, this I betcha ya will be their theater of choice.
Thought this was an odd statement. Am I missing something? Do the Obama's always go to the movies when they're in Chicago?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Buddy Guy: A Legend Performs at Legends!

As we left the club and stepped out onto the corner of Wabash and 8th at 10:30pm on a blistering cold Sunday night, a simple word stood out in my mind; WOW! I've seen Buddy Guy on TV, I've seen him in Grant Park, heck I've even seen him play an impromptu guest appearance at his club, but this was different.

As we posted last week, every January Buddy plays shows at his club, Legend's (754 S. Wabash). This was our first time taking in one of those annual shows and it was simply amazing. Yes we're a sucker for live music anywhere, but this place is special and in our opinion is one of the great cultural places in the Sloop. There is only one club in the country that is owned by Buddy Guy and it's a honor that it's in the South Loop and will be for the foreseeable future (see old Sloopin post about the club moving up the street).

If you've never been to this club, it's what a blues club should be. You might not notice this by witnessing the building from the outside or simply looking at the interior. But when you're inside, listening to some live music, you know this is what blues is about.

As is usual for most of the January shows this one was sold-out. When we arrived at the club it was already packed. Real fans know that you need to get there when the doors open to ensure you get a table and a great view of Buddy and his band. On Saturday, this meant super fans were outside tailgating and if I'm not mistaken I even saw a tent (did they sleep overnight outside of the club? I'm not sure).

When we got inside there was a certain buzz of anticipation in the air. Yes it was wild-card weekend in the NFL, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the reason for the energy in the room. At 7:30, the opening act took the stage. Guy King & his little big band played a great set for about an hour. The group was impressive with a larger then average band including the prerequisites (lead guitar, bass, drum) and some great additional components (piano, trumpet and two saxes). A very cohesive sound and set energized the crowd for the main event.

At 9pm a local DJ introduced the legend to a thunderous roar from the crowd as Buddy burst onto the stage wearing a bright orange suit with black trim, a black hat, some stylish black Pumas and his infamously mischievous smile. From there on out it was a show! The man might be getting up there in terms of years (73 years young), but to be honest it's tough to tell. He's a pro and it's obvious that he has been doing this for awhile based on his stage presence and banter with the crowd.

Although there were various memorable one liners throughout the night, one conversation with a lady in the crowd stood out (but can't be told here due to vulgar language and some absurdly funny quotes). Buddy's obviously not a comedian, however his songs, dialogue, facial contortions and demeanor definitely would have you thinking otherwise. I've been to a fair share of rock shows and have never laughed as much as I did last night. Besides the comedic element that is present throughout the show, his signature guitar skills continue to be sharp and fun. Whether it's playing the guitar with his mouth, a drum stick or his shirt it's all very entertaining. We can't forget the signature Buddy guy 'solo around the room tour', where Buddy leaves the stage and weaves in and out of the standing room only crowd to ensure everyone feels part of the show.

The set list wasn't too exotic, but it was still fun. A mix of Buddy Guy originals such as "Damn right, I've got the blues" and "Skin Deep" as well as classic blues covers such as "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "Boom Boom". He also referenced his 'good friend' Eric Clapton and broke out into a fun cover of Cream's "Strange Brew" which we've never heard him play before. Buddy seemed to be on-point for most of the show taking the lead on most of the solos, but occasionally ceded the spotlight to his backup guitarist for some of the more challenging ones (which the backup guitarist did a phenomenal job at).

Speaking of the band, everyone was solid. The bassist and drum players didn't really stand out, but that's probably a good thing. The pianist was "playing hard" as his face would contort and his foot couldn't stop shaking. Needless to say it sounded great and was fun to watch.

As the show wrapped up around 10:15pm, Buddy left the stage and went straight to the front desk where he spent time with his fans shaking hands, signing autographs and taking pictures (however he only signs stuff that is bought at his place...after all he is a businessman).

So there you have it. We've seen him live, we've seen him on TV, but this was on a different level. We're fans of the blues, but even if you weren't you would still have a good time. Tickets are still available for a couple shows...so go check him out.

As Buddy would say, 'I'm just trying to keep the blues alive'.

Thanks to him, it's not just alive in the Sloop...it's thriving!

Bronzeville and the Olympic Bust

We followed the drama that was the Olympics intensely last year. Although we were big proponents of bringing the Olympics to Chicago, the fact that we did not get them doesn't appear to be changing much in the South Loop. However, go a little further south to Bronzeville (our neighbor to the South) and it's a different story.

Today the New York Times had an interesting read about this issue and some of the problems the area is now facing. It talks about Bronzeville's relationship with the South Loop as well.

(image from creative commons)

New Improvements to the Neighborhood

Improvements noted in this months 2nd ward newsletter:
New Lighting on Wabash between Roosevelt and 23rd Street to keep our streets brighter and safer! The bulbs are being changed out with higher wattage and the poles are being painted.

New Bus Shelter at 26th and Michigan to keep you covered while waiting for the CTA!

Life After All at A'Cappella Bistro

A couple of weeks ago we had a post about the mysterious A'Cappella Bistro on the Southeast corner of Michigan and 13th street. Every since we can remember, this place looks like it could open any day, but for whatever reason sits dormant.

Anyway, late last week a reader tipped us that there were new signs up in the window at the restaurant. As a result, we recently strolled by and sure enough there are three new signs announcing that the restaurant will finally be opening soon. It even directs you to go to their website, www.acappellabistro.com.

Although the website is a work in progress, you will get a sense of what they're trying to do. As of now, it looks like it's going to be a BYOB place with traditionally and supposedly reasonable prices:

Yes, believe it or not, we're going to open...just after we take care of a few minor details. Then the South Loop will be able to find comfort in reasonably priced delicious home-style meals.

A'Cappella is located at 1301 S. Michigan Avenue, snuggled between the condo towers of the South Loop and right next door to Chicago's infamous Panozzo's Italian Deli.

We will take pride in offering good simple food with a familiar taste. Our dinner menu will provide you with basic yet flavorful entree selections of either Beef, Chicken, Pork or Fish and then you will choose the sides that you like best. This allows you to create an uncountable number of classic meals to your own liking.

So there you have it. Progress at A'Cappella. Although we're still a tad skeptical, we're excited that this place might open soon. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tailgating at Buddy Guy's Legends?

Earlier this week we had a post about the annual Buddy Guy January shows at his club, Buddy Guy's Legends. Today we were out and about and noticed a large line formed outside of the club. Although we're not sure what they were doing, we can only presume that they were tailgating and waiting in line to get the best seats in the house for the show tonight. All we can say is that the Blues appear to be alive in Chicago still...

The Tribune had a nice write-up on a recent show they attended here. We're heading there tomorrow and as you can expect are pretty excited. We will let you know how it goes.

Benjamin Button #1 Rented Netflix Movie in South Loop

We stumbled upon a fun interactive graph on the New York Times website today which breaks down rental patterns via Netflix in various cities and zip codes. As you can see above The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was the #1 movie in our zip code in 2009. This was consistent for Chicago in aggregate.

You can see how our neighborhood (60605) compares to the countries top ten below:
  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. Changeling
  3. Slumdog Millionaire
  4. Seven Pounds
  5. Gran Torino
  6. Twilight
  7. Doubt
  8. Body of Lies
  9. Valkyrie
  10. Burn After Reading
(Image from nytimes.com)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Open Letter to South Loop Dog Owners

A reader (JC) writes:
I'd like to see an "Open Letter to South Loop Dog Owners" thread that starts a dialog regarding people who don't pick up their pet's droppings. No sooner does a dusting of snow hit the ground, you get a certain type of person who doesn't feel the need to scoop.

No Denying That Movie Theater is Good for the Sloop

So the Kerasotes ICON movie theater at Roosevelt Collection has now been open for a couple of weeks so we thought we would pass on our thoughts on the place now that the dust has begun to settle. Plainly stated, this movie theater is a good thing for the South Loop. Yes, there are some issues, but overall the issues are outweighed by the benefits.

Look and Feel
First off, the theater is beautiful, modern and stylish. It doesn't have cheesy cardboard ads in the lobby, there are no kids hanging out playing video games, and it's simple, but nice. It's definitely trying to appeal to an upscale market.

Pricing
For a general admission ticket in the evening the price is $12.50 for an adult. After perusing some of the other theaters in the area our theater tends to be on the upper end of the price spectrum (from what we've seen tickets to movies in Chicago cost between $10 - $11). The one thing that justifies the premium at RC is the reserved seating function that is present in all the theaters. The nice thing about this is that you know where you're going to sit and if you have a large group you can see where your group can fit (which is usually a big problem when going to the movies with a large group).

If you're feeling like a baller and need the best of the best, there is the VIP seating area. These tickets go for $17.50 in the evening and are only available at two of the 16 theaters (which typically play the biggest box office movies). The VIP section has more room, leather seats and a small table area between every two seats. The other interesting thing is that you're allowed to bring drinks (of the adult variety) and food into the theater from the second floor lounge. Beyond that it doesn't look like there is any other reason to pony up the extra $5 unless you're feeling special and want to be considered "VIP".

Picture and Sound Quality
We don't claim to be movie or tech geeks but wow! Both the picture and sound quality of the movie we saw was amazing. Super clear picture and the sounds seemed to come from everywhere. Simply put, this probably is the most important thing about a good theater and Kerasotes ICON doesn't disappoint in this area.

2nd Floor Lobby Lounge
If you're a fan of the interior design at Opera, Carnivale, Gioco and Red Light then chances are you will like this space. Jerry Kleiner, brings a unique feel to the movie theater with his lounge on the second floor. Although it doesn't seem to be as over the top as some of his restaurants, it's still got an unusual chic feel that makes it unique.

We didn't have a chance to check out any of the food or drinks, but we've been told things were solid. The thing that strikes you the most about the space is the gorgeous view of the skyline to the north (you've probably seen it if you've driven on Roosevelt between State and Canal). Although the lounge is great, it's hard to imagine that people will come if they aren't going to see a movie (however that's probably not the point of it anyway). Regardless, it's a nice touch and makes this movie theater more unique then the standard run of the mill one.

Staff and Concessions
One thing is clear, there are a lot of people working at this theater. Maybe this was due to the opening and getting out of the gate with plenty of help, but regardless there was someone at every corner waiting to assist you. This was nice, but in our opinion a little much. However it's hard to complain about too much service.

When I went to get the official tour, I was taken around by a great manager who was super excited about the capabilities and features of the theater. So there is definitely some pride at this theater which seemed evident throughout the staff.

The concessions are also a little different at this theater. There are coffees, pizza and I'm pretty sure I saw ice cream. Everything was expensive, but on par with most movie theaters. The one thing that intrigued us was the popcorn with real butter. We payed an extra 40 or 50 cents for it and to be honest couldn't tell the difference.

Roosevelt Collection
Roosevelt collection has potential. It's easy to envision a bustling shopping complex with a variety of stores and restaurants anchored by a great movie theater. However, right now it's barren and eerie. Being the optimists that we are, we're still excited about the retail at Roosevelt Collection and can't wait until it begins to show signs of life.

Our one gripe about the complex is that it feels like it's walled off and a self contained environment. To be fair to RC, it's a good design given the issues with the above grade road at Roosevelt. It's hard to integrate within the community when one of the main access point (at Roosevelt road) is approximately three stories above ground level. It's a good design, but the complex still feels a little independent.

Overall
Like we said, the positives outweigh the negatives here. The movie theater will bring people to the South Loop and that's a good thing for businesses, retail and restaurants. It's also good for us, the residents of the neighborhood, since we won't have to schlep north to see a movie anymore.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reggie's Rock Club to Add Rooftop Deck

A reader writes:
Just spoke to the manager at Reggies. They are constructing a new rooftop deck.
Gotta love fresh air after a loud concert!

Reggie's Rock Club is located at 2109 S. State.

(Hat Tip to SoloMotorRow)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Buddy Guy Hits His Club for His Annual January Shows

One of our favorite things about the Sloop is that it's home to Buddy Guy's blues club (which is currently located at 754 S. Wabash).  We've seen Buddy play a couple of impromptu songs/sets, which have always been great, but unfortunately never have been able to see him perform at one of his annual January shows.  Hopefully we will be able to this year.


Unfortunately tickets to the weekend shows appear to be sold out (however we're told that there might be some tickets available for purchase at the club still).  Regardless, there are some weekday shows if you're looking to check out the the legend at his club.  Tickets are $40 and for more information check out the club's site here.

Also, if you've been following the blog, you know Buddy Guy's Legends is moving to a new and improved building just north of the current location on Wabash.  We've been told that this is "coming along beautifully" and that they are hoping to open in the first half of 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Local Strip Club Considered 'Upscale'

Most people are excited that the South Loop now has an 'upscale' movie theater, but according to an article we read today it's not the only thing in the neighborhood that caters to an 'upscale' market:
Local strip club aficionado Mr. Goodtimes, who asked we use his internet handle because he works in social services, pointed to Atlantis and clubs such as The Pink Monkey in Chicago's South Loop as proof the customer-service trend has come to Chicagoland.  Mr. Goodtimes runs the web site Chicagostripclublist.com

That's right, our local strip club, the Pink Monkey (750 Clinton Ave.) has good customer service (as compared to other strip clubs we would assume).  Another interesting fact that we read was that it's a BYOB (bring your own booze) establishment.  That is highly unusual for a strip club.

We haven't been to the place, but have heard mixed reviews.  The cover always seemed steep ($30), but I guess the BYOB thing could save you some money.

Anyway, if you're interested "Mr. Goodtimes" has a full on review of the club at this link.

(image from chicagostripclublist.com)

Parking Lot on Southeast corner of 14th and Wabash

We've had two people recently ask about the parking lot on the Southwest corner of 14th and Wabash.  It appears to be closed.  Anyone have the background on this one:
A question I have is about the lot at 14th and Wabash.  For the past week or so it has been closed.  It was also closed during the Bears game ($40 / car parking) so I am wondering if it is closing for good.  If you know anything I would appreciate it.  Parking is already limited.
However, across the street on Wabash it appears that there is more activity at this parking lot.   Not sure if they just switched lots or what, but something has changed.

(Hat Tip ND & FS!)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sloop Will Grow, but How Fast is the Question?

We think this is a pretty accurate sentiment about the Sloop....


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Famous Peeps in the Sloop?

So we know Mayor Daley lives in the Sloop and today we read that Juwan Howard owns a townhouse in the neighborhood as well. (for those who don't know Juwan Howard he is a Chicago native who's an NBA veteran and part of the famous Fab Five recruiting class at Michigan back in 1992).  We will concede that neither of these people are that exciting, but we were curious if anyone knew of any athletes or celebrities that live in our hood?  Maybe a Bears player or a Bulls player?

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Sloopin T-Shirt Contest!

It’s January 1st so it’s time to begin tackling that New Year’s resolution. Here at Sloopin we’re going to try to add and evolve features on the site this year. We don’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet, but we’re excited for some of the things we’ve been tossing around, so stay tuned.

The problem is that some of our improvements are most likely going to cost some money. So unless someone wants to donate some dollars to Sloopin, we’re going try a different way to generate some funding for the improvements.

So what are we thinking? A Sloopin T-Shirt contest!

Here is how it’s gonna work:

1)  You’re going to create a kick-ass T-Shirt for Sloopin 
Do whatever floats your boat, but your t-shirt MUST include these two critical things:
  • Must include our name in some capacity – “Sloopin”
  • And the Year - “2010”
2)  Use this template to submit your design.


For those of you who are graphically challenged but have a great concept, you can let us know what you’re thinking and we will try our best to mock something up (however we can't promise anything).

3)  Deadline
All entries need to be to sent to sloopin@gmail.com by January 31st, 2010

4)  Voting
We will review all entries, post all of them to the site in February and have readers vote on which shirt will be the “2010 Sloopin T-Shirt”.

5)  Buy the 2010 Sloopin T-Shirt  
Once a winner is picked, we will then create the shirt and hopefully you will buy them! Assuming we sell more then three shirts (we’re pretty sure our families will at least buy three) the profits will help fund our potential site improvements.

6)  Prize
We know it's not much, but we will give the winner their T-Shirt for free.  Most importantly you will be helping us out and get the pride of having created the 2010 Sloopin T-Shirt!  OK, it's not that exciting, but regardless we will say thank you.

Good luck and let the best design win!

What's Going on With the Demolition of the Firestone Building?

We posted about a bunch of demolition projects in the South Loop a couple of months ago and it brought on some questions about the Firestone building at the corner of 16th and Wabash..

Recently we've received a bunch of emails (and pictures) asking us about this.  Unfortunately we haven't heard much so thought we would bring up the topic again and see if anyone knows anything about this.

We read a comment that they were simply replacing the roof, but judging by the pictures below that doesn't seem to be the case.




(Hat Tip to RL!)

Bye 2009...Hello 2010

Happy New Year!  Here is to a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all...

We're looking forward to all that 2010 will bring, but before we start down that road, we figure it would be fun to quickly recap the year that was for Sloopin in regard to site metrics.  Although we monitor site information constantly via Google analytics, it's always fun to take a look at this information in aggregate, so here it goes:

Most Viewed Post of 2009:
"Spectacular" Movie Theater for the South Loop

Most Comments on a Post in 2009
59 Comments - Pay to Park Comes to 18th

Number of Visits in 2009
55,601

Number of Page Views in 2009
95,208

Number of Unique Visitors in 2009
17,902

Our Most Proud Moment of 2009
Being featured on the front Page of Chicagotribune.com



Foreign Country With the Most Views in 2009
Russia - 217 Views



Thanks to everyone (even the Russians) for making it a great year for Sloopin!  Without you we would not be...

(Statistics from Google Analytics - March 21st - December 31st 2009)