Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Toppers Pizza on State Street Apparently Closed

A reader writes:
All signage from Toppers at State and Polk is gone - chairs also gone.

We called the number and the message said this location is closed, so we're assuming this is officially donzo!

For what it's worth, this location opened in 2012.

(Hat tip:  RB!)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Signs Go Up for Bulldog Ale House at SE Corner of State/9th

A couple different readers sent us pictures:

As a reminder, we first posted about Bulldog Ale House potentially coming to 1101 S. State back in August of last year.  While we've never been, it appears that the chain is a suburban group that has approximately 8 locations.  Reviews on yelp seem decent and the menu looks adequate (although nothing very unique IMO and similar to most sports bars in the neighborhood).

They restaurant will presumably have some outdoor seating as there is a nice amount of space right outside at the corner of State & 9th street:

(Hat tip:  SG & CDL!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: Love Lock

Roosevelt Road in Chicago:

(old picture of) Pont Des Arts Bridge in Paris:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The South Loop Open House:
2-Bedroom Townhouse with Interesting Stair Placement

Most townhouse in the Sloop are pretty similar.  This one at 1616 S. Indiana (Unit C3) has an interesting layout and caught our eye.  At ~$535K, it seems more expensive than most 2-bedroom townhouses, but it does have some interesting features.

What really caught our interest was the prominent staircase and the raised ceiling that accompanies it:

To be honest, we're not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  Seems like it could be good, but it also might be awkward.  Does anyone know?

Anyway, they're having an open house on Saturday (2/25) and Sunday (2/26) from 11am - 1pm.  Go check it out and let us know how the unit looks!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rumors Around the Sloop: New Asian Restaurant Moving into 1234 S. Michigan?

Looks like there is some activity at 1234 S. Michigan:
It's been over a year since we posted about Ma&I and the other tenants of 1234 S. Michigan closing up shop.  At the time, the reader said the new owner was looking to demolish the building and turn it into a "more profitable/higher building".  

Maybe that's still the case, but according to the tweet response from PDNA we're not so sure.

For those who remember, the building was home to the solid Asian restaurant Ma&I.  While maybe not the most trendy or innovative Asian spot in the city, it was usually humming with activity and definitely served the neighborhood well.

We'll be curious to see what happens here.    

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Air Aerial Fitness Opens at 1317 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
Just wanted to give an update that Air at 1317 S. Michigan Ave has opened, you can sign up for classes at http://www.airfitnow.com.
As a reminder, we first heard about this back in mid-January.  While the space they're moving into has had a bevy of local tenants who didn't last very long, we're curious to see how they do.  This is a chain with numerous locations across the country.

It's also a relatively unique type of fitness offering which could carve out a niche.

We'll see, but regardless, welcome to Air Fit Now!

(Hat tip:  LK!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Harold's Chicken Shack Relocates to 2132 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
New Harold’s opened on Michigan just North of Cermack: 
Harold's Chicken Shack
Address: 2132 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616
Phone:(312) 326-5575 
According to Google this is true.  We think there was an old shack that closed on Wabash, so we assume this is the same one, just relocated a little east.

(Hat tip:  TB!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Getting a Look at Demolition for the 56-Story Essex on the Park

With all the nice weather, we were strolling down Michigan avenue and got a chance to snap a couple shots of the wreckage at 808 S. Michigan as they prepare the site for the 56-story "Essex on the Park":

As a reminder, ground was officially broken for Essex on the Park about a month ago.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ameritalia Apparently Closes at 1303 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
It looks as though Ameritalia on Michigan, just south of 13th has closed. There was no official sign saying so, but as I walked by last night - no lights on, no signage in the windows, and upon looking inside, things were cleared out. Kinda sad but not surprising. The place I'm sure had a lot of carry-out and delivery but not enough eat-in - hardly saw customers there.

While we agree that it never seemed "busy" inside, according to yelp they had a 4.5 rating with 190 reviews.  We actually only went their once and had a mediocre experience.

As a reminder Ameritalia opened in August of 2014.  They had big shoes to fill as they were replacing the popular Panozzo's Italian Deli (which closed unexpectedly in 2013).

Anyway, never like to see local businesses close their doors.

(Hat tip:  JK!)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Work on New South Loop School Site to Begin in March

For those with kids or just interested, looks like there is some news on the new South Loop school at 16th and Dearborn (via DNAinfo):
Work on the South Loop's new neighborhood school will begin next month, city officials say.

Demolition of a vacant post office building to make way for the new South Loop Elementary School near 16th and Dearborn streets will begin in March, Chicago Public Schools officials told neighbors last week. The new school for 1,200 students is expected to open in 2019.

Friday, February 17, 2017

New 39-Unit Condo Building Proposed for 18th & State;
Is this a Good Sign for Condos in the Sloop?

DNAinfo has the scoop on a new 39-unit condo building proposed for the SW corner of 18th and State:
Episteme Luxury Homes plans a new four-story, 39-unit condo building at 18th and State Street. The proposal for 1802 S. State St. is a less ambitious iteration of a seven-story project Episteme proposed last year.
The article goes onto to discuss the difference between Condo developments and rental.

Curbed picked up on this story and thinks some of the other proposed condo buildings will be a better barometer on the market for the South Loop condos:
As far as post-recession condos are concerned, the 1802 S. State project follows on the heels of the 140-unit building at 1345 S. Wabash and is an encouraging sign for the health of the market. However, the biggest test for the area—a 74-story, 832-foot-tall luxury condominium tower at 1000 S. Michigan Avenue—is yet to come. 
Perched on the edge of Grant Park, the JAHN-designed project known as 1000M will open a sales center for its 340 residences this summer and aims to break ground in 2018. The pace of sales should be a much better indicator for gauging the South Loop’s overall demand for new condos.

Seems pretty healthy on the condo front to us...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

University of Chicago Center for Advanced Care Opening Friday

Looks like the University of Chicago's new Center for Advanced Care is set to open on Friday according to this website:
The University of Chicago Medicine invites you to join us at our new facility, The Center for Advanced Care at South Loop for a Community Open House. 
Friday, February 17, 2017
11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Tours provided throughout the day! 
- Enjoy refreshments
- Tour our facility
- Meet the staff
- Make an appointment

As a reminder this is located inside the Southgate Market (home to Whole Foods, DSW, Marshall's, Michaels and World Market) at 1101 S. Canal.

This was announced back in October of 2015 so has taken some time to buildout.  This also follows a trend that we posted about doctors and hospital networks building space in the Sloop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Burger Bar's Quality & Creativity Surprises

Burger Bar has been open at the prominent address of 1160 S. Michigan for over two years and for some reason we haven't been there.  Well that finally changed this past Saturday.

For whatever reason, our expectations for this spot have been really really low (maybe because one of us is not a big burger fan).  As a result we haven't been there and didn't think twice about potentially encountering a wait when we walked in the Saturday before Valentine's day.

We only had a party of two, but still had a 25 minute wait.  The other option was to grab a seat at the bar - which is what we opted for.

The decor is what you would expect to find at any "sports bar" in the city - TVs, lively atmosphere and plenty of beer signage.

Upon sitting down, we immediately were greeted by a nice bartender who was busy tending to a lot of customers.  That being said she was pretty attentive, explained their "2 year anniversary specials" and let us know that if we ordered a burger certain drafts beers were $2.  That was a nice price point for the beers, BUT the food ain't cheap.

As you would expect at a place called Burger Bar, they specialize in burgers and tend to have exotic ones if desired.  There is a mac & cheese section, some appetizers, wings and salads, but it's not a robust menu outside of the burgers (see full menu here).

One of went for the "Wild Bill" burger ($16) which consisted of grass-fed, lean bison, arugula, goat cheese, + tomato chutney on a pretzel roll.  The other opted for an zesty shrimp "alt burger" ($15) which had jicama slaw, tomato, avocado + chili-lime crema:
Zesty Shrimp "Alt Burger"

We both went for the $2 beer special and enjoyed the options that this provided.  A pretty good beer menu in my opinion, but not the star of this experience.

All in all, Burger Bar was a surprising delight that exceeded our (artificially) low bar.  The quality of the food was excellent and the zesty shrimp burger was unique and left us wanting more.

In hindsight, maybe this shouldn't have surprised us.  This restaurant is part of the Good Eats restaurant group that also owns Sociale (800 S. Clark) - which we've frequented a lot and enjoy quite a bit.

Anyway, nice job Burger Bar - we'll be back!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Progress at New Park at Prairie and East 21st

We received a bunch of emails about a new park.  One reader writes:
They are really making progress on what is looking to be a fantastic recreational park at the corner of Prairie And East 21st. Will be a nice addition to the ever growing area.

As a reminder this park was officially approved back in February of 2016 by the city's plan commission.  Below is a rendering of what the park is supposed to look like:

(Hat tip:  JT, SR, JG!)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chance the Rapper - Former Jones Colleges Prep Student - Wins 3 Grammy's

A young(er) Chance the Rapper
in front of Jones College Prep Sign
(here is a great read on his background)
If you were like us last night, you were sitting on your couch enjoying music's biggest night - the Grammy's.  While there were plenty of things that were buzz worthy, a local boy stuck out to us.  Yes, we're claiming Chance the Rapper as a local boy.

While he might not have resided in the South Loop (he's from the West Chatham neighborhood), he spent some time here.  Most notably he spent some time at Jones College Prep (via Wikipedia):
At Jones College Prep High School, some of his teachers ridiculed his aspirations to become a musician.  Following a 10-day suspension in early 2011 during his senior year for possessing marijuana on campus, Bennett recorded his first full-length project, a mixtape titled 10 Day (also known as #10Day).  In December 2011, he released a song titled "Windows", and publicly announced his 10 Day project.
We like to think we're hip to the latest jams and while we're only being slightly sarcastic with that statement, we did highlight Mr. Chance way back in April of 2013.  Back then it was because he was generating some local buzz and snagged a slot at Lollapalooza.

Anyway, while he's been on the map for a bit now, he officially broke out last night at the Grammys winning 3 awards for Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album.  Oh and he had a pretty sweet performance.

If you're not familiar, here are a couple songs.

This one is from his most recent album and is one of his more popular jams:

And if you're looking for some more ol skool work (and a video that prominently features parts of the Sloop) check this:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Sloopin Open House: Townhouse with Soldier Field View

It's been awhile since we did our weekly open house post and for some reason we feel like winter is winding down (although this past work week was pretty cold).

Today a townhouse in the Prairie District area got our attention.  This specific one is listed at $675K and is located at 312 E. 17th St.  While nothing inside the unit stands out as unique, it does look like this one had a nice remodel.  The kitchen looks lovely and the fireplace is on point:

Beyond that, some of the outdoor space has a view of Soldier Field. While it seems like you might struggle to hear cheers from Bears games (man they suck!), at least you could listen to some of the big time concerts coming this summer such as U2 and Coldplay:

If this seems interesting, head over on Sunday from noon to 1:45pm!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Looks Like it's Going to be 5-Minutes Faster to Get to the United Center via the Green Line

Looks like Sloopsters who like to take public transportation to the United Center are going to save 5 minutes (according to Tribune):
The city of Chicago on Thursday announced plans for a new CTA Green Line "L" station at Damen Avenue and Lake Street near the United Center to serve a growing residential and business area. 
The new station will fill a 1.1-mile gap between existing Green Line stations at California and Ashland avenues. In a statement, the city said the new station will improve public transit for businesses in the Kinzie Corridor, for tenants of the Chicago Housing Authority's Village of Westhaven complex and other residents, as well as for sports fans coming to the United Center for Blackhawks and Bulls games.
While we're certainly advocates for a more robust el system, this one seems slightly unnecessary.  As someone who has made the walk from the Ashland/Lake green line stop to the United Center, it's not that bad right now.  And judging by our Google Map search, this really saves 5 minutes of walking time:
So in terms of being a convenience for commuters, we question if this is that much of an improvement.  That being said, we imagine this will bolster development in the area.

Regardless, it's now going to be (5 minutes) faster to get to the United Center from the Sloop - not a bad thing if you ask us.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

90/94 Roosevelt Road Ramp Re-Opens?

Something we imagine many drivers/readers are excited to hear:
I noticed this morning the on ramp to 90/94 on Roosevelt is open. Been waiting for that for quite some time! I hadn't seen a post about it yet.

(Hat tip:  CO!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

CAF Event Tomorrow: New Skyscrapers on the Park

Essex on the Park
For the neighborhood architect buffs, looks like the Chicago Architecture Foundation is holding an event tomorrow that sounds interesting (via Curbed):
Dubbed “Current Projects: New Skyscrapers on the Park,” the evening lecture will provide a unique opportunity to hear architects and developers share both their designs and inspirations for some of Chicago’s most anticipated projects. Among the expert panelists will be Chan-li Lin of Viñoly Architects. Mr. Lin serves as project director of the 76-story One Grant Park tower that is currently under construction at the corner of Roosevelt and Indiana.  
This event is open to the public and is scheduled for Thursday, February 9th at 6:00 PM at the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s lecture space at 224. Michigan Avenue. Standard tickets for the lecture are now available online for $15 with discounted rates provided to students and CAF members.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chess Records - Chicago Missing An Opportunity to Lure More Tourists?

An opinion piece in Crain's Chicago thinks a sleepy South Loop landmark isn't being promoted enough:
It's one of the best kept secrets in the city: Chess Records, the historic recording studio building where modern electric blues was born. Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones recorded here, and this is where Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Etta James and Bo Diddley, to name a few, launched careers that influenced countless recording stars to this day.  
Today, Europeans who flock to Chicago for Blues Fest want to see it. And when rock stars like Eric Clapton come to town, they are thrilled to walk the same backstairs where blues legends would once carry their instruments up to record. But Chicago has never properly promoted this great international musical legacy, born at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. A small plaque is all that currently marks this storied spot.

(Hat tip:  AR!)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Johnson Publishing Building Heading to Chicago Landmark Commission

Looks like one of the Sloop's Michigan Avenue buildings may get a special designation (via Curbed):
Yesterday, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks began the formal process of reviewing the former Johnson Publishing office tower at 820 S. Michigan Avenue for official Chicago Landmark designation, the mayor’s office announced. Completed in 1971, the building not only represented the city’s once mighty position as a publishing powerhouse, but as the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, the modernist high-rise was a beacon of Chicago’s African American business community.  
The planning and design of the building also represents the ethos of Johnson Publishing as the tower was designed by John Warren Moutoussamy, an African American architect who studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology. According to the city, to this day, the building was the first and remains the only high-rise in downtown Chicago designed by an African American.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Sloop Guide on Where to Watch the Super Bowl

Sponsored Post

The South Loop Super Bowl Guide 
Trying to find the spot to watch the Super Bowl in the South Loop? Look no further, we made the calls for you and have a complete list of where you can watch the big game. Whether you're a Patriots or Falcons fan or just trying to get in on the fun of the game, we think we have a spot for you on this list.

Game Info: 
Who's playing: New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
What Time is the Game on: Sunday, Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. ET (5:30 pm in Chicago)
Channel: Fox
Venue: NRG Stadium in Houston, TX

Locations with Specials: 
Jimmy Greens
Special: 4$ Bud Light on Draft, $20 Mimosa Pitcher, $12 Pitcher of Bud Light, $11 Bloody Mary, $3 Shot of the Day, 7$ Mac & Cheese
Reservations: Not available on Super Bowl Day

Blackie's South Loop
Special: Special Menu Items will include Meatball Sandwiches and a Special Soup
Reservations: Walk ins only, should be easy to get a table!

South Loop Club
Facebook page
Special: TBD but will include specials on shots, bottled beer, and craft beer
Reservations: Walk-ins only

Other great South Loop Bars and Restaurants to watch: 
Scout Warehouse & Kitchen
Special: None
Reservations: Call-in ahead to make a reservation. This place was Top 6 to Watch the Super Bowl in Chicago and will fill up fast

Krolls South Loop
Special: None
Reservations: Yes!

Flo & Santos 
Special: None
Reservations: No reservations, walk-ins only

Kasey's Tavern
Special: None
Reservations: First come, first serve.

Burger Bar
Special: None
Reservations: Call ahead and make a reservation!

Wabash Tap
Special: None
Reservations: Usually don’t get packed on Super Bowl so no reservations needed!

Honorable Mention goes to:  
First Draft - Would be a great spot to go but it's SOLD OUT
Special: $30 / person includes buffet, a square, and trivia games
Reservations: Closed to Public

This guide brought to you by 1001 South State, a community made up of friendly South Loop neighbors. Enjoy the game!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Reopening Today - 2 Years After Massive Fire

Good news for fine dinning Sloopsters!

A reader writes:
A live person actually answered the phone and confirmed this. 
Also confirmed that previously issued gift cards will be honored.
It's been quite an ordeal to get back to being open.  As a reminder, this South Loop stalwart had a massive (and ironic) fire back in December of 2014:

A lot of people questioned if they would reopen given that the damage was extensive.

But it was announced they would reopen and in fact they've improved (from Eater):
They’ve not only rebuilt, but they’ve also renovated the 15,000-square-foot space that includes seating for 215, according to a news release. Ownership upgraded the kitchen and restored the original Tiffany-glaze brick and custom millwork. There’s a backlit wine wall in the bar area on the first floor and they’ll host private events on the second floor. There was great effort to ensure they’ve preserved the building’s historic past, which includes hiring back most of the staff that was with the restaurant before the fire.

Welcome back and looking forward to checking them out again!

(Hat tip:  AS!)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Check Out an "American Ghost's" Work at Elephant Room Starting 2/3

A reader writes:
Is there still a great, (nearly) undiscovered American Painter of the 20th century? 
I think there is. 
I got involved in estate of the late artist James C. Harrison when his works ended up at an Antique and Auction House back in Michigan I worked at briefly years ago. It was great work (and a real departure for that shop) so, after going through the couple thousand works I asked if I could get involved. 
We have his first Chicago show since the late 80s set up at The Elephant Room Gallery on Wabash. Feb 3rd to 25th. Harrison is kind of a ghost through the ascension of American Art, beginning in the 40s and through until his death in 1990. 

(Hat tip: DL!)