Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Urban Grocers Coming to State/Polk?

A reader writes:
I just noticed a sign for "urban grocery" next to the Ace hardware on State/Polk. A cousin to "urban pantry"? Any info?
We went by and shot the picture above and highly doubt that they are related, but to be honest we don't really know. It would seem silly to us to open another local grocery store with a similar name so close to the original store.

Anyway, anyone have any scoop on this place?

(Hat tip: JG!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Northerly Island - An Unfinished Piece of Maggie Daley's Legacy

There have been a lot of nice stories eulogizing Maggie Daley, Chicago's First Lady for many many years, but yesterday we read something on about a legacy close to the Sloop that wasn't fully realized:

Mrs. Daley was tapped by her husband, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, to head Northerly Island development efforts. The mayor, of course, ordered the Meigs runway destroyed in the middle of a March night in 2003. Subsequently, the city talked about using much of the island to host events for the proposed 2016 Chicago Olympics.

At least when it was used for an airport, Northerly Island served a need. Right now, it's close to a wasteland. Perhaps someone out there would like to pick up this unfinished piece of the Maggie Daley legacy.
The story doesn't make it sound like Northerly Island will get revamped any time soon, but we can hope.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Search of Indoor Basketball for the Winter

A reader writes:
Hey guys,

Love the site. Had a quick question: Are there any good places to play indoor basketball, during the winter, in the Sloop?

Any leagues? Open gyms? wondering if you could open this up to the readers.

Thank you,
XSport (819 S. State) seems to always have pick-up ball and seems to always be busy. LA Fitness (1101 S. Canal) also has courts but we're unsure how active their courts are.

Any other ideas?

(Hat tip: ML!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Most City Ice Skating Rinks Open Saturday

The temperature continues to plunge, but that's not always a bad thing. For the readers who are ice skaters you might be excited to hear that this Saturday (11/26) is the official opening for most of the citywide ice rinks.

The blog, Chicago Quirk, highlights some of the best rinks in the city, including Millennium park (which is not in the Sloop but close enough for us to enjoy):
McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, AKA Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink
As I said last week, I think all Chicagoans should try this at least once. It's a beautiful rink in a beautiful setting. I've been a few times, and it's a lot of fun. Although don't go during a high touristy time unless you want to get bowled over by families of five. Admission is free and skate rental is $10.
Agreed, it's a truly beautiful place for a skate.

(Image from Chicago Quirk)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving for Those in Need

A nice newsletter from Alderman Fioretti:
Thanksgiving for Those in Need

Thanks to the generosity of a leading Chicago businessman and friend, and the altruism of local businesses, I am truly grateful to help offer a Thanksgiving Dinner for those in need.

Tapas Valencia, 1530 S. State St., will open its doors to the needy on Thanksgiving Day at 1 p.m. Guests will enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal. Reservations are required and seating is limited.

If you and your family are in need or if you know neighbors who are in need, then please contact Beth O'Mara in my office at (312) 263-9273. Please provide enough information to her so that she can reach the people you are referring.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

In partnership with the West Loop Community Organization, we are starting a new tradition in the 2nd Ward. We have reached out to pastors and community leaders to identify families in the 2nd Ward who don't have the resources to have a very good holiday.

Each family member has listed some "wishes" for much-needed gifts that would make their Christmas brighter. We encourage more 2nd Ward residents and businesses to "adopt-a-family" and donate to effort.

Each family is different, and many of the requests are simple; toys, household items, and winter clothes.

Please contact Beth O'Mara in my office at (312) 263-9273, or email her at: beth.o'

We will provide you with more information about a family that is needed and available for adoption in this effort. Of course, if you know a family who is struggling this season, please let Beth know, so we can get them involved with this program. We are hoping to give each family their presents during the week of December 19.

Together, we can help those less fortunate in the 2nd Ward. After all, this is truly the spirit of community and the holidays.

Here is to a happy holiday season. Your friends from Sloopin!

(Hat tip: Alderman Fioretti and his office!)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tribute Finds its Groove...But Could Use Some Local Support

A reader writes:

I am a regular reader of Sloopin and see the frequent posts from people complaining about a lack of restaurants in the area. I would just like to point out that while Tribute (800 S. Michigan) in the Essex Inn had some serious issues after opening, I think they are finally starting to hit their stride. The food is very good and the pastry chef is amazing. The drinks are also great.

It would be nice to try and help spread the word about Tribute before it is too late. It would be a shame to let a great neighborhood spot go under because not enough people were aware of the new menu and chef. It is worth checking out or giving it another try if you went early on.
It's been awhile since we've been to Tribute, but just took a quick look at yelp and it has a 3.5 star rating.

(Hat tip: JM!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Where To Get Delivery From in the Sloop?

A reader in search for the Sloop's best delivery:

I'm very fond of your restaurant info; I think good conversation could spark
discussion on which are or aren't good deliver-ers in this area.

This was inspired by a non-pizza/non-chinese focused night of getting delivery.
- We considered Eleven City Diner (1112 S. Wabash)- Absolutely tasty food, delivery, a bit pricey;
- Though about South Coast Sushi (1700 S. Michigan)- Crazy yummy, really costly, but untested delivery
- Almost went with Jamaica Jerk Villa (8 E. 22nd)- Good reviews, not expensive, but questionable on how often they deliver
- Flavor 180 (1511 S. State) - is close, has a weird vibe, is slow, and, well, no.

- Ended up with Flacos Tacos (725 S. Dearborn) - Recommended by a friend, inexpensive,

I know there are other reasonable places out there that we need to know about.

Who should we be ordering from in the Sloop?

We've had delivery from Chef Luciano's and was pretty happy with that. Besides pizza and chinesse, we usually do pick-up as oppposed to delivery. Anyway, Sloopers, please chime in with your thoughts.

(Hat tip: JN!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Advocates for Dogs at Planned 16th & Wabash Park

A reader shares a new blog 16th Wabash Dog Park:

Welcome to the blog -- you'll find information here about the proposed dog park at 16th Street and Wabash in the South Loop. We are starting this blog so the community has a space to discuss the plans and to give the Dog Friendly Area (DFA) Committee a voice.

Did you know that as the design of the park progresses, the DFA area has been shrinking? The park is supposed to be a dog park, an area where we can interact as dog owners and build a community. The new plans have the DFA area shunted to the side in favor of a performance stage and a meeting plaza.

This is a call to action! If you care about keeping preserving the park as a DFA please subscribe to us and voice your opinion here and on Facebook and Twitter. Those accounts will be linked to this blog as soon as we set them up.

We are fired up, we are ready to fight for the space for our dogs -- JOIN US!
(Hat tip: SC!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Velvet Lounge to Re-Open in January 2012?

Fred Anderson, the man behind the old Velvet Lounge jazz club at 67 E. Cermak, passed away in 2010. Unfortunately the Chicago jazz community lost a legend and apparently lost a night club as well (see an old post from January).

Well yesterday we got an email from a reader with the simple title of "Velvet Lounge Reopening in January. Woo Hoo!" with a link to the Velvet Lounge website. And when you click on that link you find an encouraging sign:
This is the first we've heard of this and can only hope that it is true. Has anyone else heard anything about the Velvet Lounge re-opening?

Seems like there has been a lot of positive talk down in this area. Hope it continues!

(Hat tip: LH!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Bomber Fly By

A reader writes:

Soldiers Field celebrated by lighting up the columns Red, White, and Blue and then on Sunday there was a flyover of a C5 Galaxy. If I’d been in Towers 1 or 2 I definitely would have been a little nervous with a plane that big buzzing by!

(Hat tip: JG!)

Opart Thai and Everest Recognized in 2012 Michelin Restaurant Awards

Last year was the first annual Michelin Guide for Chicago restaurants and for the South Loop not much has changed in 2012.

To be on the list means the restaurant is doing something right judging by the other restaurants on the list. Alinea in Lincoln Park is the only Chicago restaurant to get the three star rating (last year L20 received the award as well). We've never been to Everest, maybe some day.

A restaurant we have been to and like a lot is Opart Thai House (1906 S. State) also received recognition in 2012 from Michelin. You may remember that Opart received the Bib Gourmand rating from Michelin last year from an old Sloopin post. Bib Gourmand rating: given to restaurants that offer "good cuisine at a reasonable value." Diners must be able to get two courses and either dessert or a glass of wine for $40 or less (not including tax and tip) to qualify for a rating.

Congrats to both places.

Maybe Acadia, the new restaurant at 1639 South Wabash, could be in the running next year? We will have to wait and see if it lives up to the hype.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Waffles a Welcomed Addition

Waffles, the new brunch spot at 1400 S. Michigan, appears to have established itself as a solid brunch spot in the Sloop. It seems like every weekend morning, the place is packed with folks waiting outside to get a seat.

To avoid the crowds, we finally had a free Friday morning recently and decided to try out the spot. We had no problems getting a seat (however, it did get busier as our meal went on). We've talked about the look of the restaurant in previous posts, so this time we're going to focus on the food.

It probably goes without saying that when you go to Waffles, you probably want to opt for the waffles (duh!). So that's what we did. Intrigued by the Green Tea (which is described as green tea waffle with a lemon ginger Chantilly cream topped with ground pistachio, powdered sugar and candied ginger). Sounded lovely and was pretty tasty as well.

Also ordered was the Brussels Waffle (which was more of your traditional type of waffle), eggs and bacon. Again, the food was solid. Generally speaking, both of us would go back without question. The only minor complaints from us was that the staff wasn't really stopping by that much to fill up coffee, bring our check, etc. In their defense, we were having a solid conversation and maybe they didn't think they should interrupt, but regardless, the server could have been more attentive. Not a huge problem, but something noticed by both of us.

Laura Bianci from also recently stopped by Waffles and really enjoyed the food:

It's a mystery to me that Waffles could put so much thought and effort into its menu and so little into customer comfort.

The wood furniture and benches without backs, seating 105, invite us to eat and run, while the stark-naked d├ęcor is so frigid it makes fast-food chains look cozy; so why is this place so packed on weekends?

No doubt it's the menu, a brief and imaginative document that's well-executed.
We agree that the menu is solid, but don't agree with the assessment of the decor. While it's simple, it's a bright, contemporary feel if you ask us. Regardless, the food is the star and that's probably more important than any other thing.

(Hat tip: ND!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Daniela's Hair Salon Closes - Need New Recommendations

A reader writes about a recent closing and looks for suggestions:

I wanted to follow up from my recent inquiry about Daniela's Hair Salon in Printer's Row. It is in fact officially closed for business. That's a shame. Would love some recommendations on QUALITY salons and services in the Sloop!

Can anyone help out JR?

(Hat Tip: JR!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Come Out and Support "Move With the Forces" 5K on Saturday

A reader writes:

If you have free time this Saturday morning or enjoy a nice run (5K), please go out and support those taking part in the Move With The Forces Run.

The event starts at 1410 S. Museum Campus Drive. The money that is raised
is going towards, which is the second largest national homebuilding organization building adapted homes for OUR VETERANS/HEROES from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday and honor our Veterans and those who help keep us free. More information on donating money or taking part in the event can be found at

(Hat tip: ND!)

Cheap Trick Record Row Venue Moving Forward?

The new Record Row continues to press forward. Today the Chicago Sun-Times has a story on the Cheap Trick museum:

Cheap Trick, the Rockford band behind the ’70s hits “Dream Police” and “I Want You to Want Me,” announced Wednesday that it will “curate” a museum and music venue in a former Buick dealership at 2245 S. Michigan in the emerging Record Row-Motor Row district.

Band manager David Frey said in a statement that Cheap Trick Chicago will be “a one-of-a-kind eatery, unique musical instrument museum, radio station, and performance space as well as rooftop and outdoor and event space in the future Music Row in Chicago.”
This isn't really new news, but it sounds like it's actually happening. Anyway here is something new we didn't know about:

Fioretti said a blues band is interested in opening a similar venue “within a couple blocks” of Cheap Trick Chicago. Fioretti anticipates an announcement on that venue by early 2012.

Landmark America is coordinating efforts in the district with Fioretti and Cheap Trick.

Headquartered in Chicago, Landmark America has completed more than 80 developments in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York and Mississippi. Known for
rehabilitating historic buildings, Landmark America worked on the 1999 rehab of
Lakeside Center, the former R.R. Donnelley printing center in Chicago.

Hopefully this all happens. Should be fun to see how this progresses. Seems like there are a ton of things going on down by Cermak (new Green line stop, Record Row, Real Estate Development).

(Hat tip: Anonymous!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rental Highrise Proposed for Southeast Corner of 9th and State

A couple South Loop real estate stories have popped up recently. First off, Chicago Real Estate Daily reports:

Chicago developer Golub & Co. has agreed to pay about $6 million for a city-owned South Loop property where it wants to build a 35-story, 392-unit apartment tower.

The $111-million project at the southeast corner of Ninth and State streets is the latest entrant in a downtown apartment boom spurred by rising occupancies and surging rents. Developers this year have already broken ground on seven downtown apartment towers comprising more than 2,800 units.
For those who read Sloopin often you probably remember an old post about how the same developers buying the old X/O property on Prairie Avenue. I guess they're feeling the future potential of the Sloop.

Anyway, our guess is that this project still has a lot of hurdles to jump over. We see it as a mixed blessing. As most everyone knows, there is a ton of supply in regard to condos and rentals in the South Loop, so adding more won't seem to help us in the short term. However, if we take a longer term view, more building, means more residents, means more retail and a more vibrant State street and area.

Finally, YoChicago is reporting that another piece of South Loop land (Southwest corner of Harrison and Wells) will be auctioned off. Bids are due no later than Decemeber 15th.

(Image from Curbed Chicago)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's the Deal with Spanglish?

We haven't heard much about Spanglish since we did a post back in July, but recently two curious readers sent us emails about the subject:

Hi Sloopy!

Wondering if you have heard any recent news about Spanglish? I can't find anything updates online. I passed Frank, the owner, while crossing the street the other day but, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to ask him about it.

Thanks, and keep up the GREAT work!

From what we read back then on Metromix, they were planning a September opening. Looks like that ain't happening. Regardless, hope they open soon.

Anyone have the scoop?

(Hat tip: TR & S!)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Celebrating Hackney's 10 Year Anniversary

This past Saturday night, we decided to meet up with some friends for a couple drinks at one of our favorite neighborhood haunts, Hackney's in Printers Row (733 S. Dearborn). We heard that there was going to be some live music, so that's all we needed to make us choose Hackney's

Little did we know, Saturday night was special for Hackney's. The owners were in the house with their family celebrating their tenth year in Printer's row.

As a token of appreciation, everyone was given complimentary champagne.

With that said, a quick shout out and congrats to Hackney's. Keep up the good work!

(Hat tip: DD and N!)

18th Street El Stop Preferred

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking for Something to Do on Saturday? Hit Up the Annual South Loop Loft Walk

A reader writes:
Hi Sloopy!

I'm a loyal reader, but this is my first time contacting you. I wanted to inform you of an event taking place tomorrow, Saturday, November 5th in our neighborhood. I am "friends" with the Greater South Loop Association on Facebook and saw them post a link for the South Loop Neighbors Loft Walk.

It sounds like it's a tour of the neighborhood with specific lofts that have undergone recent renovations, new decorating, etc. Sounds like an open house of sorts. As someone with an avid interest in real estate, and our awesome neighborhood, I think it's a wonderful way to see various units in the area without looking like a creep going to realtor sponsored Open Houses. The website isn't super helpful with how to purchase tickets, and it is last minute, but I wanted to pass along anyways because there may be others who share my same interest. Love the blog...keep it up!

We also found this video on their website:

(Hat tip: KB!)

Massive Hotel/Retail/Entertainment Project Proposed for Motor Row Area

A reader recently sent us an article from (subscription is required). It is pretty much summed up in the following:

An Arizona developer aims to jump-start a massive hotel, retail and entertainment
project next to McCormick Place and turn the nearby Motor Row area into a
nightlife hot spot.

Winners Development LLC agreed to invest $40.2 million in a parcel on East Cermak Road, directly north of the McCormick Place West Building, according to a recent court filing in a bankruptcy case involving the property's owner. The first phase of construction would include a convention hotel with 900 rooms, although the 4.9-acre property is zoned for nearly 2,600.

If the Scottsdale-based developer can pull it off—still a big if — the project will be the first of its size on the Near South Side since the real estate collapse derailed the frenzied residential development that transformed the area in the 2000s. It also could help bring more trade shows to McCormick Place, addressing a big complaint from meeting planners: the lack of hotel rooms near the convention center.
This is probably good news for the area. More development means more people means more business/retail. This also aligns with the city and alderman's push to evolve this area into an entertainment hub. We will see what happens. Should be interesting.

(Image from
(Hat tip: EJM!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Old School Sloop on Display in "City of Superlatives" Video

A good watch with parts showcasing how the Sloop looked was back in the 1930s (via WBEZ). Some good Shots Around the Sloop at the 1:00 mark:

(Hat tip: Curbed Chicago!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Traffic Lights Coming to 13th and 14th Corners on Wabash?

Back in May we posted about "The Danger Zone at 13th and Wabash" where a concerned emailer sent us a note about the amount of cars not stopping at the stop signs. This post garnered a lot of opinions.

Many residents wanted something done and "Timothy" posted a comment saying that the Alderman requested that the CDOT look into safety issues at the corners of Wabash/13th and Wabash/14th. That was the last we heard about this topic...

Until yesterday. A reader sent us this email:


Just wanted to share some news about the repaving on Wabash. You might have noticed that after pouring the initial blacktop layer & working on the man holes, construction seemed to slow down & then they actually started digging things back up at the corners of Wabash & 13th and Wabash & 14th. Wondering what the deal was, a friend of ours spoke with the project foreman. He said approval had been giving to put stoplights at those corners to replace the (always blown by cabbies) stop signs so they were tearing up part of the new road to get the pressure pads & wiring in for the new stoplights. Just a few more weeks!


Pretty interesting stuff and it seems like this is what most readers wanted. Hope this helps with the problem.

The other interesting thing we noticed was that the lines on Wabash now have two "official" lanes of traffic (see image below looking North at Wabash and 14th). It makes sense now that they have lights going up.

(Hat tip: DC!)