Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #1 - Retail Rising

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#1 - Retail Rising
If you're like us, you've learned to be patient with the South Loop retail scene. For years the space has been ready for businesses to come to the South Loop, but unfortunately it hasn't come as fast as we would like. Well in 2011, the neighborhood retail scene seemed to gain some momentum. New businesses coming to the neighborhood significantly outweighed those closing up shop.

The biggest news on this front was Trader Joe's opening up at the Northeast corner of Wabash and Roosevelt. While we don't completely credit the overall neighborhood retail trend to this opening, it sure seemed to change peoples perceptions. We had a post that took a look at Trader Joe's impact on an area of Lincoln park and pondered whether it could do the same for the Sloop.

Beyond Trader Joe's, two other much discussed restaurants/bars opened in the summer but had very different experiences in the neighborhood. In August, The Scout opened on the Southeast corner of Wabash and 13th (the old Opera space). While many discussed whether or not the new sports bar/restaurant fit into the neighborhood, most seem to agree it's doing quite well and has been a good addition.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for Tribute (800 S. Michigan) who closed up shop in December, only 5 months after opening. It was an ambitious attempt and by most accounts was pretty good. Regardless, it never seemed to gain momentum and clearly wasn't sustainable.

The vacant retail space South of Roosevelt saw a lot of food/drink options open up their doors in 2011. Pita Heaven (1250 S. Michigan), Waffles (1400 S. Michigan), Chi Bakery (2135 S. Michigan) added some solid food options to South Michigan while Donna's Cafe (1255 S. State), Flavor 180 (1511 S. State), Overflow Coffee (1550 S. State) and Burger Point (1900 S. State) all opened up on South State.

And it wasn't all restaurants either. Sanctuary (1400 S. Michigan), Ur

And it wasn't all new stuff - Lou Malnatti's (805 S. State), Flo & Santos (1310 S. Wabash), South Loop Market (1720 S. Michigan) and Jimmy Green's (825 S. State) have expanded or are in the process of expanding.

We probably missed a couple, so please chime in if you know of something, but all in all we would say it's been a good year on the retail front for the Sloop. Better yet, 2012 is looking even brighter so stay tuned for that post (coming soon in 2012).

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #2 - Motor Row Entertainment District

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#2 - Motor Row Entertainment District
Strategically speaking, it makes sense for the city to invest in the future of the Cermak corridor mainly due to the fact that McCormick Place remains a huge asset for the city. While the real estate and residential boom in the neighborhood helped the area, most of the development never quite made it down to Cermak.

However, in 2011, various projects, initiatives and efforts were put forward to help evolve and shape the future of this area. As posted earlier in our top 11 Sloopin stories, the announced Green Line stop at Cermak was one big piece of the puzzle for the area.

Probably the biggest development was Alderman Fioretti's push to transform the stretch of Michigan avenue from Cermak to the Stevenson Expressway into an "entertainment district". While we're unsure about what this exactly means, it's good to see some attention being devoted to this stretch.

With this announcement came some other interesting developments. First off was the announcement that Cheap Trick (a prominent local band from the 70s) would be opening up a multi-purpose museum, restaurant, concert venue to anchor this entertainment district. We also heard about a new brewery that would also be coming (which we recently found out was going to be called Broad Shoulders Brewery).

There was also talk about renaming the entertainment district from "Motor Row" to "Music Row" to embrace the areas musical roots (since there were numerous record labels in the area). This seems like a good idea if you ask us given that Music would probably resonate with an entertainment district more than Motor.

Finally, there was also talk in November about a massive hotel and retail complex at the Northeast corner of Cermak and Indiana. However we recently found out that a judge has put the brakes on this project.

Needless to say, there has been a ton of talk about this area in 2011. We imagine this will continue into 2012 so stay should be interesting.

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #3 - Educational Institutions Lead Development Push in the Sloop

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#3 - Educational Institutions Lead Development Push in the Sloop

If we were to say that some new impressive, huge buildings are going up in the South Loop, you might think we travelled back to 2005 or were on crack. Well you would be wrong on both accounts, but the truth is that there are some amazing buildings being built in the neighborhood, but not by commercial entities - they're being built by educational institutions.

The most impressive building of them all (and maybe the most impressive building in all of Chicago in 2011) was Roosevelt University's Vertical Campus. While just North of what we consider the South Loop (since it's just North of Congress) the strikingly beautiful blue building looms large over the South Loop.

Beyond that, construction has begun on the new Jones College Prep high school at 606 S. State. East West University also broke ground at 819 S. Wabash to build a multi-purpose building consisting of classrooms, dorms and such. It's a similar concept to the Roosevelt University's vertical campus building albeit on a smaller scale.

Two other announcements in 2011 were Roosevelt University's new athletic center that will be built on the just Southeast corner of Congress on Wabash and Columbia's purchase of the Ebony/Jet HQ building at 820 S. Michigan.

Needless to say, these institutions are expanding and continue to bring more and more people to the neighborhood.

(Image from Curbed Chicago)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #4 - New Green Line Cermak Station Announcement

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#4 - New Green Line Cermak Station Announcement
While it's clear that the Roosevelt El station is the primary hub for public transportation in the South Loop, as the neighborhood has continued to grow to the South many have been calling for a new El station South of Roosevelt (since there is no stop between Roosevelt and 35th street).

This has been a debate for a long time, but in mid-October of 2011 the CTA announced plans to open up a new Green Line Stop at Cermak between Wabash and State. While the stop isn't planned to open until 2014, this news should be a shot in the arm for the area and Alderman Fioretti's push to make Motor Row into an entertainment district. It also makes a ton of sense since it will provide another public transportation option for people/conventions at McCormick Place.

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #5 - Muggings in the South Loop

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#5 - Muggings in the South Loop
While must of us like to focus on the positives in the South Loop, this doesn't mean that some scary things aren't happening. Back in July, a string of muggings took place on Indiana and Michigan Avenue between Roosevelt and 18th. While the perpetrators were apprehended, the neighborhood was on high alert for a couple tense weeks.

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #6 - The Danger Zone (13th & Wabash)

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#6 - Danger Zone (13th and Wabash)

We've been hearing about traffic issues at the intersection of 13th and Wabash for some time now, but back in May we posted an email from a reader talking about cars blowing through the stop sign and nearly hitting pedestrians.

This post got a ton of comments and it appears that Alderman Fioretti has taken action as he announced that stop lights would be installed at the intersections of 13th/Wabash and 14th/Wabash.

While the lights aren't up yet, we assume it's a matter of time.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #7 - Snowmageddon

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#7 - Snowmageddon
While there were some saftey concerns during the blizzard of 2011 in early February, in hindsight the Snowmageddon was captivating and dare we say even fun. Here is a great video shot by one of our readers who was holed up in her building at South Financial Place:

(Hat tip: RP!)

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #8 - The Fall of KDK Restaurants

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#8 - The Fall of KDK Restaurant Group
Back in March of 2011, some ominous signs appeared on the windows of one of the South Loop's pioneer restaurants, Gioco. The signs stating that the restaurant would be "closed today and till further notice" were surprising to many around the neighborhood but no one knew about the bigger issue, which was that KDK Restaurant Group (owners of Gioco, Opera, Red Light and Marche) weren't paying all their taxes.

After Gioco's news came about, Red Light (in the West Loop) also closed. At the time, no one knew the fate of these restaurants. Today, Right Light remains closed, but Gioco reopened in May after being sold to a separate group. While some minor things have changed at Gioco (new chef) it appears that the restaurant is back to running smoothly.

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #9 - The South Loop Power Plant Hoax

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#9 - The South Loop Power Plant Hoax
In April, a letter distributed to condo owners in Printer's Row from a company called "Midwest Energy" caused an uproar around the neighborhood as residents nervously searched for information about a "new power plant" coming to the vacant lot at Harrison and Wells.

As imagined residents weren't very happy with this news. But once Alderman Fioretti was contacted (we presume by many many people) he quickly tweeted that this isn't true. In fact it was an elaborate PR stunt by Citizens United Against Loop Coal to bring attention to the power plant at Pilsen:

Broad Shoulders Brewery Coming to Motor Row; Plans for Summer Opening

Back in the summer we heard about grand plans to transform Motor Row into an entertainment district. In conjunction with these announcements and developments was a mention of a new brewery coming to the area to help anchor the new district (as well as the Cheap Trick music venue).

At the time we didn't know a ton, but today we got a tip that a new website for Broad Shoulders Brewing was live. The website looks good and gives some more information about the origins of the brewery:

We at Broad Shoulders Brewing are very excited to be located in the Motor Row
neighborhood of the South Loop, at 2337 South Michigan Avenue. We are happy to
be bringing a brewery to a new Southside neighborhood. Broad Shoulders will be
brewing both ales and lagers, with a stronger focus on traditional and
experimental lager styles. The brewery will have a large tasting room and bar.
We invite you to come in and sample our beers. There will also be packaged beer
sales on premise. Look for us next summer on draft at some traditionally known
beer bars, and some new locations on the Southside and around the city.

We like what we see and are glad to hear that they're shooting for a summer opening. This will definitely be something we're closely monitoring as 2012 progresses.

(Hat tip: JJ!)
(Image from: Broad Shoulders Brewery)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #10 - Printers Row Named Most Walkable Neighborhood

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#10 - Printers Row Named Most Walkable Neighborhood in Chicago
While the methodology of things like this is always questioned, in this case it proved to be a PR success for Printers Row and the South Loop in general. While we already knew that the neighborhood is a great place for a stroll, it's good to get some press like this:

Top 11 Sloopin Stories of 2011: #11 - Ping Tom Park Expands

It's that time of year and like many other websites, tv stations, newspapers and blogs, we're going to take a look back at some of the most important and biggest stories of 2011.

#11 - Ping Tom Park Expands North
Often overlooked, Ping Tom Park continues to get rave reviews. Back in September we posted about the new addition to the park just North of 18th street. While many forget about this spot (since it's on the fringe of what many consider the South Loop), it truly is a special public space that offers serene places to relax and some amazing views of the city.
(Image from Curbed Chicago)

For Your Doormen: To Tip or Not to Tip - That is the Question

A reader writes:


I would love to see a post about tipping etiquette for doormen in Chicago. I just moved to the South Loop from LA, where doormen are not a common sight.


(Hat tip: JK!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's Happening at the Museum Park Sales Center?

A reader writes:

Hello Sloopin!

I love your site. Have you heard anything about what the plans are for the former site of the museum park sales center located on ne corner of 13th and Indiana? They started demolition on Tuesday and they are almost done with it. I have attached photo from my balcony view.

Any help would be appreciated.


(Hat tip: HS!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Man Found Shot at Roosevelt Stop

Chicago Tribune is reporting:
A man was found shot at a South Loop “L” station this evening, police said.

A 21-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound in the upper torso in the attack in the 1100 block of South State Street about 7 p.m., said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety. The man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
Details appear to be hazy, but the victim might have been shot on a train and got off at the Roosevelt stop:
An earlier report indicated police said the victim may have been shot on an "L" train, but that information came from one person who identified himself as a witness but declined to be identified, and the information could not be verified with police.
Once we read more we will update this post.

From ABC7:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have a Merry Bear Down Christmas

Wishing everyone a merry christmas and hopefully a christmas night miracle in green bay!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Porsche Blocks Segway Tour

It's been awhile since we've done a segway shot and this one is awesome on many fronts:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Burger Point Has Some Fans

A reader writes:

Hey Sloopin-

Love the fiance and I think you should have a post about Burger Point. We have been there 4 times since it has been open and have been impressed each time. Great wings, chili, fries, and of course burgers. I'm on a crusade to determine which burger is my favorite and thus far it's hard to say. I just had the Ash Man and it tastes just like In and Out. The service has also been phenomenal. My fiance is gluten-free and they have been great in dealing with that. We've also enjoyed that it is BYOB as well.

Keep up
the great work!

Seems like they're not the only person to enjoy the new burger joint in the Sloop. According to Yelp it's at 4 stars.

(Hat tip: RA!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gerrymandering the Sloop

The debate over the new ward boundaries for the city (and obviously the Sloop) is set to shake things up as we head into the future. As most of us know, Bob Fioretti has manned most of our neighborhood these past couple of years. This could be changing.

Two dueling maps are aiming to redraw Chicago’s political battle lines, and both upset the apple cart for aldermen in the South Loop, adding new politicians to the dense area’s mix.

One map, led by the council’s Hispanic Caucus and independents, adds two new aldermen to the South Loop, splitting the neighborhood between a total of four representatives in city council. Another, submitted by the council’s Black Caucus and old-school Democrats, would keep the South Loop mainly in two wards, save for a few small slices.

The neighborhood’s massive population boom in the last 10 years made the 2nd Ward one of the few in the city that gained population, while most others lost people. Though it’s often used as a political tool, the remap’s goal is ostensibly to balance out the population between the wards.
For those of you who are more visual here are two links to the different proposals:
  • Hispanic Caucus and independents (map on page 3) - split Sloop with 4 aldermen
  • Black Caucus and old-school Democrats (map towards the end and above) - keep Sloop with 2 aldermen
To be honest, we don't know what to think, so would love to hear some good debate on the pros and cons of these proposed changes.

On one hand, it would be good to see one "alderman" be our point person and to be THE person that we go to when we need something done for the betterment of the neighborhood. On the other hand, our neighborhood has seen explosive population growth and maybe we deserve to have numerous aldermen fighting for our interests in city hall.

Let's hear your thoughts?

(Hat tip: SC!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Ok, so we're one night late, but regardless wanted to extend happy hanukkah wishes to all our Jewish Sloopin readers:

Acadia Set to Open Tonight

Last week we posted about Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) nearing the "homestretch" and that it would be opening soon. Well today is December 21st and it appears it is officially opening day. We've read some positive write-ups about the restaurant on Eater Chicago and Chicago Magazine's Grub Street. We're looking forward to hear if any of our readers try it out.

It's great to have a new "high-profile" restaurant in the neighborhood and we hope it's a start of a trend for the hood. However, we have a bone to pick with the author of the Grub Street write-up based on this statement:

Now that the dust has settled after our first hard hat tour of South Loop hotspot Acadia, chef/owner Ryan McCaskey is ready to unveil his restaurant to the world—and it's stunning. This isn't just because of the sophisticated interior by KI Design or McCaskey's elegant menu with opulent ingredients like foie gras, Wagyu beef, and lobster. Polished touches are expected from a fine dining chef who once helmed the kitchen of Michelin-rated restaurant Courtright's. It's mostly impressive because all of these elements coexist in the South Loop.

While some might consider opening in the mostly vacated neighborhood to be
a somewhat ambitious move, McCaskey seems to have picked excellent timing. As we noted before, the restaurant will soon boast some of the most spectacular city views with a new city park being built across the street.
Ouch! Slap in the face!

Just saying...

(Hat tip: LR3!)

(Image from Eater Chicago)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Doctor's Choice Closing its Showroom Due to Medicare

A reader recently commented that Doctor's Choice (1345 S. Michigan Ave.) is closing it's doors and sure enough, that seems to be the case. Although we don't claim to be health care experts, it seems strange that they're citing changes in Medicare as the reason.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pastry Shop Coming to 1250 S. Michigan

Back in July we had a post pondering whether or not Winestyles was reopening in their old space at 1250 S. Michigan Ave since there was a sign in the window. Since then brown paper has gone up on the windows and we've noticed some movement inside the space.

Surprisingly, we haven't heard many rumors about this space. We asked some of the employees at Pita Heaven about the space next to them and they coyly said "something" but wouldn't divulge any information.

After reading some information on everyblock, it appears that a Pastry Shop is coming to this space:


Has anyone heard anything about this space or have any additional information?

Could be an interesting addition to the neighborhood. We know cupcake shops are a hot trend, maybe that trends is headed for the sloop!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Infamous Panhandler Behind '08 South Loop Attack Arrested in Uptown

From the Chicago Tribune yesterday - scary stuff:

A man who once knocked out a woman’s teeth in the South Loop when she refused to give him a cigarette was arrested again this week when he threatened to kill a man while panhandling in the Uptown neighborhood, according to Chicago police.

Derrick King, 50, was cited by critics of the state’s early prison release program when he threatened a woman in 2009, a day after getting out of prison for the brutal attack against Jennifer Hall on her birthday in August 2008.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Confirmed: New "Tavern" Coming to 1400 S. Michigan

Well it appears that one rumor from our post yesterday is more than a rumor. Today we found a building permit on the window confirming that a "tavern" is moving into the vacant retail space on the Southwest corner of 14th and Michigan:

The pic is hard to read, but it says "interior renovation for new tavern in existing 28 story, 1A building as per plans."

Good news!

Acadia Nears The "Homestretch"

We've been actively following the developments at Acadia, the new American Contemporary restaurant at 1639 S. Wabash. While many of us were skeptical about whether or not the restaurant would be opening in 2011, it looks like they're almost ready to accept their first patrons.

If you haven't checked out their blog yet, it's a fascinating look into the process a restaurant goes through prior to opening. And that's where we see that they're getting closer to opening:
the finishing touches are being made at acadia. we are finally down the
homestretch after a long journey that started back in july. it’s perplexing to think that we started with a raw unfinished space, and transformed iit into something as elegant and inviting as this. we will be opening within the next two weeks. this hardly seems possible. i’m finally standing inside my vision…
If you look at their website, they're accepting reservations for New Year's Eve. However, looking at Metromix Chicago's "The Countdown" page, it sounds like they're opening sometime around December 21st.

While it seems many in the neighborhood are eager for the restaurant to open, we're curious to see how it does. Yes, the interior looks beautiful and the entire project is clearly a labor of love

for Chef Ryan McCaskey, who appears to have a vision for every detail. However, the concept seems high-end, which haven't seemed to fare as well in the South Loop lately (see Tribute). Couple this with the fact that the location is on a relatively desolate stretch of South Wabash, we will be curious to see how Acadia fares. One bright spot for the location is that city plans to build a park just North of Acadia which should help attract foot traffic to the area (however, construction hasn't started and who knows when this will be completed).

Anyway, we look forward to our maiden voyage to Acadia. Whether or not it is the "signature" restaurant that helps put the South Loop on the culinary map of Chicago remains to be seen.

Hopefully it's a step in that direction at least. Judging by this scallop picture, it could be:
(Image from Acadia Blog)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rumors Around the Sloop: Retail Edition

It's been awhile since we had a post dedicated to rumors we've heard (or read on our comment threads), so here we go:

Owner of Artists Cafe Behind the Restaurant Coming to 1150 S. Wabash?
Last we heard Five Guys was going to move into the 1150 S. Wabash construction place (picture above), but we recently heard that the owner of the Artists Cafe at 412 S. Michigan will be bringing a new diner to the Sloop. While we haven't heard much about the concept, it seems like whatever he decides to bring would be a welcome addition. Stay tuned...

Station Stop Pub and Eatery Coming to Corner Vacant Retail Space at 1400 S. Michigan?
This was based on a comment from a post we did last week. The comment specifically said that there were signs on the door, but upon further investigation, we could not find any. However, there appears to be some action in this space as black tarps have now covered up the windows preventing people from looking in.

Management of Waffles Looking into a New Restaurant Concept?
Another comment from a post we did last week, but still juicy and worth calling out. According to the comment the Waffles Management team is looking into nearby space for a wine and cheese, small plate style restaurant. This might be talk, but could be interesting if they get some momentum.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Bears Choke in Denver

This was an old poll, but after yesterdays choke in Denver, it's looking even more likely that the Bears won't be making the playoffs this year...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

PeaPod Driver Arrested on Sexual Assault Charge in the Sloop

A reader writes:
Hello Sloopin'

I have been a user of PeaPod for the last two years, and was just notified that our deliver has been arrested on sexual assault charges. I am hoping that you can update you site making those who use this service aware of the dangers and that they should not let these people into their homes no matter how trustworthy they seem. Guillermo Balingit, I thought, was a very trust worthy individual that my wife would let into our south loop condo to set the groceries in the kitchen.

Although this is old news, we wanted to post as a reminder to be careful. For more background here is a link to an article on ABC7.

(Hat tip: TK!)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Infringement

(Hat tip: CA & EC!)

Jimmy Green's Expanding into Retail Space to the North

Looks like Jimmy Green's is expanding according to their facebook page:
Big news! Can't keep the secret anymore particularly when the 12 ft tall window next door spills the beans...Jimmy Green's is HEADING NORTH!!! (Well expanding one storefront to the north that is.) Construction starts this month so soon there'll be more Jimmy to love. More screens. More window seats. Delivery. A private dining and party den. Games and more. Thanks to our friends for making our first 18 months so wonderful that we simply gotta grow!
A good sign and hopefully they fare better than the previous restaurants that have been in that spot (which shouldn't be a problem since they have some established success already).

We're huge fans of bar games, so are happy to hear that they might have some of those as well now.

Congrats to Jimmy Green's and look forward to heading to the new space soon!

(Hat Tip: JM!)

Another Shout-out for Acadia in Chicago Magazine

A quick shout-out in Chicago Magazine for Acadia:
COMING: Acadia

“I’m pretty old,” muses Ryan McCaskey, who’s only 37. But the seasoned chef (Rushmore, Tizi Melloul, Courtright’s) takes cues from his past at the 60-seat Acadia, a contemporary American eatery nostalgically named for the coastal Maine region where McCaskey summered as a kid. The classic menu will also source seafood from McCaskey’s fisherman pals in that area. “We will have all the amenities of high-end restaurants, but also fun bar food that is approachable and geared toward the neighborhood,” McCaskey says. Sounds quite hip, old-timer. 1639 S. Wabash Ave.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

South Loop Resident Seeks Dish & Drink Advice

We had a recent post about the best delivery in the Sloop and another reader asked for some more advice:
Hey Sloopy,

I love sloopin and have been checking in regularly since I moved to the sloop two years ago. As a south loop resident and investor, I am very curious what people think of our local restaurants and bars. I would like to see a post about what people think of specific restaurants and bars in the sloop.

With new places opening this year such as Pita Heaven, The Scout, Waffles, Burger Point along with our existing places, the sloop definitely feels like its finally coming together. Some reviews and tips about dishes and drink specials would be helpful for us all.


(Hat tip: CJ!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

East-West University's New Dorm Breaks Ground at 819 S. Wabash

Back in October we posted about East-West University's proposed 17-story dorm that would be built at 819 S. Wabash. For the skeptics, it sounds like your disbelief wasn't well founded as they have officially broken ground according to Gazette Chicago:
The blend of businesses and university cultures that is so much a part of the South Loop will grow richer soon, thanks to a new ingredient.

East-West University held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 10 for its new Student Life Center, a 17-story building to be constructed immediately south of the university’s 819 S. Wabash Ave academic building. The university’s other main campus building occupies 816 S.Michigan Ave.

Elected officials attending the groundbreaking predicted the new building will become an important part of the South Loop’s identity as vibrant center for education. “This is a celebration for the community,” said Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward). East-West University’s mission “to serve the underserved” student populations “will only be enhanced by a campus offering the services that the Student Life Center will bring.”

Glad to see this project moving forward. For reference here is the rendering of what the building should look like when completed:(Image from Gazette Chicago)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"A Warm Welcome Back" for Gioco

It's been a crazy year for Gioco, but based on a recent review on, the restaurant has rebounded nicely:
Everyone should recover from dust-ups with the tax man as gracefully as 12-year-old Gioco, one of the city's most charming Italian ristorantes, which closed and reopened this year following an unfortunate run-in with the state.

That seems appropriate, given the colorful past of this former gambling house and speakeasy once frequented by Al Capone and famed brothel owners the Everleigh sisters.

On a slow day you might get a tour through the lower level where, our server/history major says, Mr. Capone built tunnels to ferry bootleg liquor out to Lake Michigan and to store the odd body or two.

But even from one of the 150 seats upstairs, the past is present in the worn brick and plaster walls, bordello-like red plush banquettes and fringed lampshades above the bar.
The article continues on by specifically calling out the new executive chef, Gaetano Ascione:
Never have I seen a chef go table to table at lunch with a tray of portobello mushrooms—or anything else—enticing guests to order an off-the-menu special that arrives as meaty and smoky as steak, sautéed simply with olive oil and garlic ($12).

He surprised us again, bringing us samples of the Japanese Kurobuta pork belly, the Kobe beef of the porcine world. The meat is incomparably tender, the five-spice sauce dark and complex (when it's available, the appetizer is $14; main course $28).
This is great to hear. Hope all goes well with Gioco and it continues to flourish.

(Hat tip: ND!)

Something Simmering at Old Ole Hardwood Space?

Don't get excited, but could something be simmering at the old Ole Hardwood space (1315 S. Wabash) be seeing some new activity? A reader writes:
Ran by Ole Hardwood 1315 S. Wabash today and at least they have removed the “we think is arson” signs, painted the plywood window coverings and put new butcher paper up. Anyone know if there is a build out going on? Speculation as to new tenants?
It's funny that we got this email because we noticed the same thing. We even went out of our way to ask the men who were replacing the boarded up windows, "is there something new going in here". The man coyly looked away and said yes. We asked again, but it was clear he didn't speak English well or wasn't going to give us any additional information.

Anyway, not sure if something is going in there or if they were just being pressured to take down the ugly boarded up windows. I guess we will have to wait and see.

For those who don't remember the history, here is a link to an old post we did and the corresponding video:

(hat tip: SP!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tribute Closes Its Doors After 5 Months

There have been some whispers (and even an overt blog post on Sloopin) that Tribute (800 S. Michigan) wasn't doing so hot. However, it's still surprising to read an article on saying they're closing:
Perhaps it was never meant to be.

After opening delays and other setbacks once it finally did open just shy of five months ago, Tribute restaurant has closed.

The modern-American restaurant in the South Loop's Essex Inn shut its doors for good on Sunday.

"We have succumbed to the poor economic environment that has not helped our new restaurant to grow roots," owner Phil Fernandez and general manager and partner Simon Lamb said in a statement. "We have tried to weather these crucial beginning months . . . but we have not been able to sustain."

Well...that was fast. If you remember Tribute had some hiccups prior to opening, but when it finally opened in July the neighborhood was pretty pumped. While the reviews were mixed - the space probably proved to be too large for neighborhood and concept.

Anyway, hope something else goes in because the space looks great.

(Hat tip: SN!)

Active Body Chiropractor Moving to 1600 S. Indiana

We've received two separate emails from readers asking about some work being done at 1600 S. Indiana:
Yo Sloopin,

There appears to be some activity in the empty commercial space at 1600 S. Indiana - the space opposite of Happy Cleaners.

They're framing out the space. Any idea what's happening there? Perhaps another veterinarian office.


Sure enough, we went by and saw what JB was speaking about. Unfortunately we don't know what's going on. Does anyone have any ideas?

Update: Since we went by last week, new signs appear to have been placed on the windows. As the comment thread has suggested, Active Body Chiropractor (currently located at 1509 S. State) is moving to this new location.

(Hat tip: JB & TK and to our comment section)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guy Fieri Chows Down at Panozzo's

Back in March we had a post about Guy Fieri's, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show featuring Panozzo's and it finally aired on the Food Network recently. In case you missed the episode here it is on Panozzo's youtube page:

Wow that looks amazing! We couldn't be happier for the crew at Panozzo's. They do an amazing job, are nice people and we're so excited that they have chosen to call the Sloop home.

(Hat tip: TJ!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: "L" Shape Tetris Building

Taking from a condo looking west from the Transportation Building on Dearborn:
(Hat tip: N&DD and Holiday Party!)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pet Grooming Shop Coming to 1400 S. Michigan

Michigan Avenue Tower II (@1400 S. Michigan) had a slow start to their retail, but it appears that their third retail space is going to be rented out based on the building permit on the window. The building permit says (in case you can't read it):
Interior renovation for a new pet grooming shop in existing 28 story, I-A building as per plan, not part of the condo association
The pet grooming shop joins Sanctuary and Waffles in the buildings retail space. That leaves only one vacant retail space in the building and it's probably the most high-profile space which is on the corner of 14th and Michigan.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Free Flu Shots for 2nd Ward on Friday

For those in the Sloop who want to stay healthy:
2nd Ward Flu Clinic

Alderman Bob Fioretti is proud to partner with the Chicago Department of Public Health to offer FREE flu shots for residents.

No appointments are necessary; This is a walk-in clinic.

Noon to 3 p.m.
Friday, December 2, 2011
First Immanuel Lutheran Church
1124 S. Ashland Ave.