Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Armand's Victory Tap Teams Up with Rosebud Vet for South Loop Location

Armand's Victory Tap has been open for a little bit at 1416 S. Michigan for a little bit now and judging by the Yelp reviews, seems to be doing pretty well (4.5 stars).

We haven't had a chance to give it a try, but did appreciate reading about it and how it's a revved up version of the suburban pizza chain (via Eater Chicago):
Earlier this year, when chef Joe Farina left his stint as Rosebud's corporate chef, he got in touch with childhood friend Tony Gambino to pursue a long-held dream of working together. Gambino, who owns the Armand’s Pizzeria chain of neighborhood pizza spots, wanted to expand and open a batch of full-service restaurants sporting the Armand’s name. Thus, Armand’s Victory Tap was born, combining Armand’s pizza with Farina’s Italian-American dishes. The first Victory Tap is now open in the City Tavern space that’s been vacant for two years at 1416 S. Michigan Ave. in the South Loop.   
Those familiar with Farina’s dishes at Rosebud—his meatballs, chicken parmesan and classics like shrimp DeJonge—should be comfortable with the menu at Victory Tap. "We’re using the same fresh ingredients," Farina said.  
While the location does plenty of pizza carry-out and delivery business, the dine-in menu deemphasizes those pies. Instead there’s a line of 10-inch appetizer pizzas, including several with olive oil bases. The offerings, like steak and seafood, are more upscale than what Armand’s diners are accustomed to—some Armand’s are tiny, only selling pizza slices. But Gambino and Farina haven’t installed upscale prices. The crispy lemon chicken at $29 is the priciest item on the menu. There are also 18 beers and 25 wines by the glass.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Asian Outpost's Evolved Menu Has Us Happy

For what it's worth, we don't get out as much as we use to.  As a result, we've been all over the carry-out and delivery scene in the Sloop.

With that in mind, we've been very impressed with Asian Outpost's progress.  As a reminder, this restaurant opened in 2014 at 1315 S. Wabash.  We liked it back then, but it appears that they have evolved their menu.

What you'll find now is a wide variety of asian dishes.  The one thing that we've really enjoyed are the Hawaiian inspired Poke bowls (specifically the Tuna Poke and Spicy Salmon Mango Poke).  They're not cheap at $13.95, but they offer a ton of different ingredients and are pretty delicious.

There are other new and exciting dishes as well...we just haven't had the chance to try those yet.

The other thing we've enjoyed is walking into this place - as captured in the pic above.  Not exactly sure what it is about it, but it just feels fresh when you're greeted by all this vegetation upon entry.  We assume some of the spices under the grow lamps are being used in the dishes?

Anyway, if you haven't been to Asian Outpost in awhile we would suggest you giving it another try.  We've been pleasantly surprised.

Monday, November 28, 2016

1411 S. Michigan Project Gets Loan; Slated for Completion in Spring 2018

Looks like the developer of a new project at 1411 S. Michigan is moving forward (via
The developer of a 15-story South Loop apartment building scored a nearly $53 million construction loan to finance the project, jumping into a crowded rental market that's showing signs of softness. 
A joint venture led by Chicago-based Russland Capital Group is building the 199-unit tower at 1411 S. Michigan Ave., a few blocks west of Soldier Field. The venture borrowed $52.7 million from Square Mile Capital Management, a New York investment firm, to finance the development, according to Colliers International, the brokerage that arranged the financing.

The strange thing about this article was this piece:
Russland Principal Jacob Bletnitsky is confident his project will succeed even though it will face competition from other new buildings. Amid strong job growth in the city, more people are moving downtown, and they’re more interested in renting than buying, he said.  
“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem filling the units,” he said. “I think the rental market is going to stay hot for at least five years. But who knows? Nobody expected what happened eight or nine years ago,” when the downtown condominium market crashed.

Now we're not major real estate developers, but a market staying hot for five years doesn't seem like a very long time for an rental building - especially since this project isn't slated to be done until spring 2018.

That being said, the fact that they have a deal in place with Rush hospital seems pretty stable.

Does that statement seem strange to anyone else?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks from Sloopin & The Holiday CTA Schedule

Before we check-out for the Thanksgiving holiday - we wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you for helping us maintain Sloopin.  It ain't easy, but have so many people read and contribute makes it all worthwhile.

With that said, we also wanted to share the holiday CTA train schedules in case you're looking for some cheer (via NBC Chicago):
The CTA's most festive train comes back into service this Saturday for its 25th year and it's bringing with it a new partner -- the "Elves' Workshop Train."
A six-car train outfitted with Christmas lights and covered in snowflake and Santa Claus paintings will run on all eight rail lines beginning this weekend. Joining the holiday train on tracks throughout the city will be the new Elves' Workshop Train, which will also be covered in colorful lights, garland, bows and festive winter scenes.

Holiday Train (*Elves' Workshop Train following) 
  • Sat., November 19 – Red Line 
  • Fri., November 25 – Green Line 
  • Sat., November 26 – Green Line* 
  • Tue., November 29 – Green and Orange Lines 
  • Wed., November 30 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Thu., December 1 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Fri., December 2 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Sat., December 3 – Brown and Orange Lines* 
  • Tue., December 13 – Red Line 
  • Thu., December 15 – Red Line 
  • Sat., December 17 – Red and Purple Lines* 
Holiday Bus 
  • Fri., December 2 -- No. 22 Clark 
  • Sat., December 3 -- No. 22 Clark/ No. 97 Skokie 
  • Thu., December 8 -- No. 12 Roosevelt 
  • Fri., December 9 -- No. 12 Roosevelt 
  • Fri., December 16 -- No. 62 Archer 
  • Sat., December 17 -- No. 62 Archer 
  • Thu., December 22 -- No. 3 King Drive 
  • Fri., December 23 -- No. 3 King Drive 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Mayor of Chinatown" - Tony Hu Gets One Year in Prison

One of our favorite Chefs in Chinatown gets one year in prison (via Curbed):
Six months after federal authorities charged Tony Hu with a battery of tax fraud-related crimes, the famous Chicago Chinese restaurant owner was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and fined $100,000. Judge Amy J. St. Eve delivered the sentence this afternoon inside the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago which he should start in February. 
The sentencing marks the end of an investigation that started four years ago. The public became aware of the legal problems back in October 2014 when FBI and IRS agents raided Hu’s 10 Chinatown restaurants. Agents were seen carrying out boxes from the restaurants. Presumably, the boxes contained documents and other paperwork of evidence proving Hu bilked the government of $1 million in taxes from $9.8 million in sales. Hu, 49, pleaded guilty to the charges in May. The illegal activity took place from 2010 to 2014. 
Hu served as an icon for Chicago’s Chinatown, as his community outreach and restaurants gave him the title "Mayor of Chinatown." He forged relationships with city politicians and local celebrities dined at his restaurants. His real name is Hu Xiaojun and he is a naturalized citizen.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Plan Commission Green Lights Hotel at 1101 S. Wabash and New Townhouses at Prairie/Cullerton

Last Tuesday we posted about construction beginning at 1101 S. Wabash.  It looks like they officially got the green light from the Chicago Plan Commission (via Curbed): 
While the underlying zoning for this 281-room, 306-foot South Loop hotel tower allowed it to move forward as-of-right, the site at 1101 S. Wabash fell under the private use zone of the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance and still required a nod from the Plan Commission. Developed by Hinsdale-based S.B. Yen Management Group and penned by local architect Lothan Van Hook DeStefano, the glassy blue-tinted tower appears to have already started construction earlier this week.

Also note worthy is that it looks like another batch of townhouses are coming to Prairie Avenue (via Curbed):
Similar to the Wabash hotel, this townhouse development of twelve, four-story homes required approval under the Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance despite not requiring a zoning change. Located at the northeast corner of Prairie and Cullerton, this South Loop property is currently a surface parking lot.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sloopin Open House: Got $7.1 Million?

On Saturdays we often try to highlight unique open houses.  Today, it's not an open house, but it's a strange real estate opportunity (via Crains):
Two years after putting a block of 141 condos in a South Loop building up for sale individually, a Los Angeles-based investment group hopes to close out the inventory soon by offering the last 15 in bulk to somebody who wants to finish the job. 
"They're ready to exit and want to hand what's left to somebody else," said George Toscas, the ACO Commercial vice president who is representing 15 unsold condos at the Guild, the 14-story tower at 50 E. 16th St., for owner Oaktree Capital Management.  
The effort to sell them individually to homeowners, brokered by @properties, will continue concurrently, Toscas said. The bulk asking price is not specified but would be approximately the sum of the asking prices of the 15 units, $7.1 million, Toscas said.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pure Barre Apparently Coming to 1336 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
I was checking out Pure Barre’s website and saw that they plan on opening a location at 1336 S. Michigan Ave, The website does not give any information but thought it was interesting especially given the increase of gyms in the area (Orange Theory should be opening soon, title boxing in the Roosevelt collection, etc)

While we're not 100% sure, we're assuming this is the vacant retail spot that was built next to Giordano's and has remained unoccupied since.

(Hat tip:  LK!)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

DePaul Arena Strikes Naming Rights Deal with Wintrust

Looks like the new DePaul arena at Cermak and Indiana has a new naming deal (via Crains):
The new home of DePaul University men's and women's basketball on the McCormick Place convention center campus has a new name. 
With roughly a year to go before the debut of the publicly owned, 10,387-seat venue on the Near South Side, the school today announced it has reached a 15-year facility naming rights agreement with Rosemont-based lender Wintrust Financial to officially name the building Wintrust Arena.

Financial terms of the sponsorship remain under wraps. But an agreement between the school and New York-based sponsorship consulting firm Legends Sales & Marketing, which led the sale, estimated that DePaul could pull in $22 million from naming rights over an undisclosed period of time.

(Hat tip:  AR!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

An Uptick in Crime in the City and the Sloop

Crime and Chicago seem to be two things that constantly get linked together in national news.  That being said, many neighborhoods (including the Sloop) have seemed to be relatively insulated from the areas that are home to some of the major violence.

While we never like to see or hear about our beloved neighborhood being used as the poster child for an article about crime in the city, it is important to realize that we have to be aware that these things happen.

The Tribune has a good and lengthy article exploring the uptick in crime and some of the various reasons and solutions being implemented to combat it:
First came the nightclub shootings, which were terrifying but could be explained away as a mix of late hours and alcohol. Then came the brazen gang shooting in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in January, which signaled something different was happening. 
But the last straw for many in the South Loop was the murder of one of their neighbors in August while he walked outside for a morning cup of coffee. That's when things boiled over and spurred residents to take action. 
As the numbers of shootings and killings skyrocket in Chicago, most of the violence has been driven by traditional gang conflicts on the South and West sides. 
But over the past two years, violence in developing and more affluent areas close to the Loop has also spiked, giving more well-heeled Chicagoans a taste of the danger and fear that people in the city's poor neighborhoods have experienced for decades. 
And it threatens to undermine the many hard-won gains in those areas that officials have pushed for in recent years. If not checked, experts warn, it can put the overall health of the city at risk. 
"If I am a public official in a great city, and dealing with issues of gentrification and issues of economic vitality, public safety is an essential background condition," said Harold Pollack, a University of Chicago professor who studies crime and its effects on society.
The sentiment definitely hits home and accurately portrays what we (and we presume many of you) feel.

Not an easy answer to some of these tough questions, but acknowledging and being aware of it is a critical first step.

(Hat tip: ND!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Construction Begins on 298-Foot Dual Hotel Concept at 1101 S. Wabash

A reader writes:
There is construction starting on that new hotel at 1101 S Wabash.

For some background, we've had a couple posts on this project.  It first was discussed back in October of 2015 with some more updates on the demolition of the old parking lot back in February of this year.

Curbed Chicago had more detail about a dual concept:
It will be replaced by a 298-foot structure that includes a 196-room Homewood Hilton, an extended stay Wabash Suites with 85 guest rooms, and approximately 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Both hotels plan to share a new 145-car garage as well as other back-of-house amenities. Relatively unusual these days for a project of its size, the tower slated for 1101 S. Wabash is proceeding as-of-right within the existing confines of the zoning code.

Here was a rendering from that post:

Should be interesting to see this one rise.

Additionally, the dated Best Western that is next door to this site is getting a much needed face lift.

(Hat tip:  DK!)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Retail Updates at Roosevelt Collection - Title Boxing, World of Beers and Old Navy

Back in May of this year a reader wrote and said Title Boxing was coming to Roosevelt Collection.  In case you didn't believe that, new signage appears to confirm that this is the case:

This is also confirmed on their website which says that Title will be on the second floor of the west building in between Yoga Six and Massage Envy.  They've built a nice little health and fitness group on the second floor of the complex (also include Shred 451 in this).

Beyond this it appears work on Old Navy is progressing and additional signage confirming that World of Beers is coming to the complex:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Event Today: Healing After the Election

Between the Cubs and the election, if you're like us these past couple of weeks have been a roller-coaster of emotions.

That being said, we were glad a reader sent us an invite to this:
Hopefully it provides a good dialogue for those wanting to discuss the election and whatnot.

(Hat tip: CC!)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Renovated Chopsticks Re-Opens at 28 E. Roosevelt

It appears that Chopsticks has reopened at the high-trafficked spot at 28 E. Roosevelt: 

While we assume this is just a revamped and renovated version of the restaurant that closed in September, we're not sure.  One thing is for sure, the new signage looks a 100 times better than the old one:

 We haven't been here in awhile, but it's probably worth another shot.  Has anyone tried it recently?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How the Sloop Voted in the Presidential Election

As the dust continues to settle on the 2016 election, many people (especially in Chicago) are left baffled on how Donald J. Trump won.

Not surprising, the overwhelming majority of Chicagoans and Sloopsters voted for Hillary Clinton.  DNAinfo has a highly detailed interactive map that outlines how each ward votes.  It seems like the Sloop voted somewhere in the range of 70% to 85% for Hillary:

Another interesting fact was that Chicagoans apparently voted more for Hillary than Obama in 2012:
More Chicagoans voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race than they did for Barack Obama in 2012.
The city overwhelmingly favored Hillary, but you do see some pockets of red on the outskirts of the city:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tattoo Parlor Coming to 2008 S. Prairie Avenue

Looks like the Prairie Avenue District is getting a tattoo parlor: 

(Hat tip:  EJM!)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Acadia Retains 2-Star Rating in Michelin Guide for Second Straight Year

In case you missed it last week, the annual Michelin guide awards were announced last week and generally speaking there weren't any huge surprises.

The good news for the Sloop is that our fine dining staple, Acadia (1639 S. Wabash), retained it's 2-star rating for the second consecutive year.

For those unfamiliar, the Michelin Guide is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the food industry.  An upgrade or downgrade can significantly impact a restaurants business.

With the 2-star rating, Acadia is in rarified air in the Chicago market.  There are only two 3-star restaurants (Alienia and Grace) and five 2-star restaurants (Acadia, 42 Grams, Oriole, Sixteen, Tru).  What this means is that the guide considers Acadia to be one of the best seven restaurants in the Chicago.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cubs Rally at Grant Park (and Chicago) Plays Host to 7th Largest Gathering of Humans

You're probably getting sick of all the Cubs talk in the city recently and we promise this is our last post on the topic.

One of the quirkier stories we read about was that the rally was reportedly the 7th larget gathering of humans in the world.  Yes - the world!  

As you will recall, the estimates were 5 million people.  Seems high, but what the hell do we know.

Even better, this event and stat, put the rally/parade in some interesting company (via Fox 32):
1. Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, India, 2013 - 30 million
2. Arbaeen festival, Iraq, 2014 - 17 million
3. Funeral of CN Annadurai, India, 1969 - 15 million
4. Funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran, 1989 - 10 million
5. Papal gathering in the Philippines, 2015 - 6 million
6. World Youth Day, 1995 - 5 million
7. Chicago Cubs World Series celebration - 5 million
8. Funeral of Gamal Abdel Nasser, 1970 - 5 million
9. Rod Stewart concert, Brazil, 1994 - 3.5 million
10. Hajj pilgrimage, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 2012 - 3 million
11. Anti-war march, Rome, 2003 - 3 million

So take that - our neighborhood/city hosted one of the largest human gatherings in the history of the world! 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

So the Cubs Apparently Won the World Series...

I apologize.  What can I say...the Cubs won (today).  I made the pilgrimage to Cleveland and have been out of commission for a couple days.

That being said, wanted to share my Sloop story from Friday morning.

I was walking to work and stopped at the SW corner of Roosevelt and State.  Everywhere you look their are people in blue.  It's relatively calm, but you could tell their was joy in the air.

I'm standing by myself and a Chicago Traffic Management person.  As a jeep gets ready to turn the corner  with a gigantic W flag hanging out of their window I ask her in sarcastic deadpan..."What's Going On?"

She looks at me, smiles and simply shakes her head.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chicago Curry House Gets Some Press from Eater Chicago

Chicago Curry House gets called out by Eater Chicago as one of 21 great Indian restaurants in the area:
Nepalese and Indian food share a common lineage, and Chicago Curry House serves a selection of dishes from both countries. They do spice right, so don't pass this spot up inside an unassuming South Loop block. Nepal House owns the restaurant and recently opened up a location on Devon, as well.

We can attest...they do it well!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Development at Prominent Vacant Lot in Printers Row Gets New Design

According to and Curbed, looks like the development at the northwest corner of Polk/Dearborn has some new renderings:
Originally proposed as a 15-story structure containing 130 micro apartments and extended-stay hotel units, the project from LG Development and Myefski Architects shrunk down to seven floors and 60 dwellings earlier this year. Now, according to an updated rendering appearing on the message board, the design has again been changed. 
While the tweak leaves the scale and massing of the building roughly the same as before, the facade has adopted a more historically contextual, ornamented appearance to echo surrounding buildings. This fourth and latest iteration of 742 S. Dearborn will head to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in two days. According to the group’s posted agenda, Landmarks staff recommends the project for approval.

The design of 742 S. Dearborn from September 2015 (top left), March 2016 (top right),
September 2016 (bottom left), and now (bottom right)
 Myefski Architects/LG/SSP

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Old Post Office Renovations Appear to Begin

A reader sent us this picture and quick line:
Renovation begins, early Sunday morning.

We actually drove under the post office on Saturday and saw some people working on the outside of the building as well.  Looks like this is project is finally underway.

As a reminder, the old post office is going to go through a massive rehabilitation turning it into a multi-purpose gigantic building for offices, rentals and retail.