Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lowcountry Soft Opens and it Looks Amazing!

Looks freaking amazing - both the food and the space (via Eater):
After a successful three years in Wrigleyville, the owners of Lowcountry hope to duplicate the formula in the South Loop at their second restaurant. Lowcountry, known for its Cajun seafood boils, started serving patrons over the weekend at 1132 S. Wabash Avenue. Besides spicy crab legs, shrimp, and lobster tails, this Lowcountry features surprises including drinks from a Japanese highball machine, deep-fried Oreos, and plenty of liquor on tap.

As a reminder, we posted about this back in the fall of last year.  They've been clearly working on this and we're super excited to check it out.

Best of luck to them!

(Hat tip:  TC!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sign Appears For and Seems to Indicate Progress

A reader writes:
Came across what looks like a new kickboxing gym on Michigan between 13th and 14th, basically next door to UFC gym. Interesting location.
While we posted about this back in November, the addition of the sign seems to indicate things are moving forward.

We agree with the writer that this blocks is becoming a fitness haven - Air Aerial Fitness, UFC Gym and Pure Bare all call this block home!

(Hat tip:  KK!)

Monday, January 29, 2018

1 Dead and 11 Injured in Scary Crash at Congress and Wells on Saturday

A scary scene this past Saturday at Congress and Wells (via Chicago Tribune):
One man is dead and 11 people were injured in a multiple-vehicle crash Saturday afternoon near Congress Parkway and Wells Street, officials said.  
The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. and Chicago police said eight cars collided. Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, citing preliminary information, that a motorist appeared to have lost control of a vehicle before it crashed into others near Congress and Wells.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Lex is Getting a Subway

Ok ok - the addition of a Subway sandwich store to your neighborhood shouldn't warrant excitement, but for some reason it feels like this is worthy.  Judging by the giant sign that recently popped up within some of the longstanding vacant space at the Lex, it looks like Cermak is getting another tenant.

Is this a game changer?  No.

Is it a sign of progress?  Sure.

(Hat tip:  KS!)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Looks Like Taco Bell Cantina is (Finally) Moving into 407 S. Dearborn

A reader writes:
Taco Bell Cantina coming to SLoop. It's on Dearborn in one of the retail spaces for the ARC at Old Colony building. I walk by there all the time and this seems to have come out of nowhere. See attached pictures.
We wrote about this in April, but haven't seen much action until this user sent us these pictures.

(Hat tip:  DS!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bar22 Opens on Motor Row at 2244 S. Michigan Avenue

Looks like we have a new bar in Motor Row (via Eater Chicago):
SOUTH LOOP— Bar22 on Motor Row opened earlier this month. They’re promising a relaxed vibe and TVs to watch sports. Take a look at the photos here. Status: Certified open, 2244 S. Michigan Avenue.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Last Printer in Printer's Row is Moving!

Remember in October when we posted about the last printing house in Printer's Row?  At the time they relished their location and place in an industry that has since vacated the name it helped coined for the neighborhood.

Well...that's no longer the case - he gone!  (via Chicago Business):
The last printer on Printers Row is preparing to turn out the lights.

Palmer Printing is looking for a new home after selling its plant at 739 S. Clark St. to a developer. Palmer, founded in 1937, has endured over the decades as printing houses in the neighborhood have shut down or moved out and residential developers have moved in.

The sale marks the end of an era for the company and printing industry, which has had a presence in the South Loop since the 1880s.

So what happened?  A highly active real estate developer in the South Loop - CMK - aparently purchased the property for $14M.  So like many pretty much comes down to money:
The vibe in the South Loop has changed a lot over the decades as developers have moved in, converting old buildings into apartments or condominiums or putting up fancy new high-rises. CMK has been especially busy there in recent years, getting started in 2016 on Riverline, a 3,600-unit residential development on the east side of the Chicago River between Congress Parkway and Roosevelt Road. In late October, CMK acquired a 32,400-square-foot parcel at 1415 S. Wabash Ave.
It's unclear what the developer plans on the Palmer Printing site. CMK President Colin Kihnke did not respond to a call or email.

Likely a bittersweet moment for the owners, workers and sentimental types.  All that being said, not terribly surprising.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 Women's March Begins at 9am at Grant Park

In case you're going to or interested in the Women's March (via Sun Times):
Before Chicago area residents take to the street Saturday for the Women’s March, here’s what you should know about traveling to and from the march route, street closures and how bundled up you should to be for the day.

LOGISTICS: The rally site at Grant Park opens at 9 a.m., kicking off with recorded videos and music. The speaking program, which includes Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, begins at 11 a.m.

The march will start at 12:30 p.m.

Starting at Jackson Street at Columbus Drive, marchers are expected to head west on Jackson to Clark Street. From there, they’ll head north on Clark to Federal Plaza. Organizers expect marchers to disband at Jackson and Dearborn Street.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Field Museum's Stanley Hall Getting a Rennovation

Looks like Field Museum's main hall is getting a rennovation (via Curbed):
The Field Museum’s stately marble hall is about to get a lot more wild.
Later this year, the skylit vaulted ceilings of Stanley Hall will be overtaken by a flock of flying reptiles and hanging gardens containing over 1,000 live plants that thrived alongside dinosaurs. These additions accompany a soon-to-be unveiled model of a titanosaur species, the largest dinosaur discovered so far, that will eat up a third of the central hall.

Seems like a good shot in the arm for Field Museum and fear not - the popular T-Rex Sue isn't leaving the museum.  She's being moved upstairs.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our First Jazz Showcase Experience Prompts a Desire for a Second

We finally made it! 

Late last year, we made our first ever visit to the venerable Jazz Showcase in Dearborn Station (806 S. Plymouth).  It's slightly embarrassing that it's been this difficult for us to go, but enough about that...

On a blustery Saturday evening, we scampered down Plymouth Court in the snow to take in students from the Columbia Jazz Ensemble collaborate with saxophonist Jon Irabagon.  Frankly, we didn't know anything about the show and were mainly going for the overarching experience.

I was a little uncertain on what to expect or if my party would enjoy themselves (since none of them were what I would consider "Jazz Enthusiasts").  What I can say, is that it was an experience that exceeded my expectations.  Upon walking into the venue, you're completely engulfed by Jazz.  Pictures and show posters hang on every wall and ambiance is certainly old-school cool.

We were greeted at the front desk by Joe Segal, the owner and founder of the Jazz Showcase.  His age was showing, but his wit and personality were immediately noticeable upon first blush - namely his comments and excitement for the upcoming show as he took our money.

As a waitress sat our party of five in the back, the buzz of venue was encouraging.  It wasn't packed yet, but was filling up bristly.  Our waitress was bouncing around the venue and although it wasn't the fastest service it was certainly fine - after all, you come for the music first and drinks second.

If you're looking amble space, this place isn't for you.  Tables and seats are packed together very tightly to maximize seating but also adds to the intimacy of the venue.  One exception is the various couches that are situated in the middle.  Those seem like the prime seats and something we would seek out for our next visit.

As the musicians started to assemble on stage, Mr. Segal grabbed the mic and provided the introduction.  Here's what we captured:

The show was fun and if you're a fan of live music we highly suggest a trip to the Jazz Showcase.  

Similarly to Buddy Guy's Legends, we're lucky to have such a unique and highly respected live music venue in our neighborhood.

We'll be back - hopefully soon!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fashion Geek Closes at 69 East 16th

A reader writes:
First closing in 2018 for business counter - Fashion Geek at 69 E 16th has vacated.
Many people might not be familiar with this store, but as fas we could tell it was a boutique owned by Alonzo Jackson.  There isn't a lot of information online about why the store closed, but judging by his instagram account (which has 30K+ followers), he's likely still going to have some influence over fashion.

Best of luck to him and as the reader states - this is our first closing of the year.  Check out the business counter as we keep tabs on openings and closings in 2018.

(Hat tip: DK!)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lobo Rey Chef Daniel Espinoza Out at 1307 S. Wabash Restaurant

Looks like Lobo Rey's Chef left (via Eater):
SOUTH LOOP— Big changes at Lobo Rey where chef Daniel Espinoza, pastry chef Jhoana Ruiz , and much of the staff left on December 23. The Mexican restaurant, which was supposed to mix Japanese flattops with casual taqueria opened in September at 1307 S. Wabash Avenue. The restaurant is still trying to find its identity, just blocks from Soldier Field. Espinoza has gone back to focusing on his Anomar Mexican pop-up.

It was always a intriguing concept, but one we weren't really sure how it would pan out.  The Yelp reviews generally seem positive (4 stars currently), so we will see what transpires at Lobo Rey.

Has anyone been lately?   Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Remodeled Dunkin' Donuts at 16th & Michigan Reopens

A reader writes:
The Dunkin’ Donuts on 16th and Michigan has reopened from Construction! One of the friendliest and Nicest owners of a location I have ever met. Glad to have him back in the neighborhood.
We've always found this Dunkin' Donuts interesting given it's relatively tiny building.  Anyway, nice to have a well though of owner in the hood

(Hat tip:  BL!)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

+20 is Our Official Count for the 2017 Sloopin Business Counter

Alright is the final business counter for 2017.   

Opened in 2017
  1. Bar Method (2112 S. Michigan)
  2. Orange Theory Fitness (1005 S. State)
  3. Air Aerial Fitness (1317 S. Michigan)
  4. University of Chicago Center for Advanced Care (1101 S. Canal)
  5. The Chicago Firehouse (1401 S. Michigan)
  6. Pizano's Pizza (2106 S. Indiana)
  7. Parish 14 (2333 S. Michigan)
  8. Poke & Roll (555 S. Dearborn)
  9. Mercat a la Planxa (reopens 638 S. Michigan)
  10. Pure Barre (1336 S. Michigan)
  11. Timothy's Hutch (636 S. Michigan)
  12. Hax: Hop's and Hamburgers (733 S. Dearborn)
  13. Gordo's (729 S Dearborn)
  14. EZ Dental (1466 S. Michigan)
  15. Brighter Dental of South Loop (1620 S. Michigan)
  16. Weissbluth Pediatrics (1471 S. Michigan)
  17. Bulldog Ale House (15 E. 9th)
  18. Title Boxing (250 W. Roosevelt)
  19. Lobo Rey (1307 S. Wabash)
  20. Royal Puppies (2000 S. Wabash)
  21. Phenomenal Fitness (2001 S. State)
  22. Himalayan Express (606 S. Wabash)
  23. Cycmode (1333 S. Wabash)
  24. Athletico (State and Harrison)
  25. Half Sour (755 S. Clark)
  26. Not Just Cookies (901 S. Plymouth)
  27. Pazzo's (825 S. State)
  28. Kome (1303 S. Michigan)
  29. South Loop Market (9th and State)
  30. Mai Tai (614 S. Wabash)
  31. Steve Bite's (80 E. Cermak)
  32. Jamaica Jerk Villa & Bar (2216 S. Michigan)
  33. Asian Cajun (2113 S. State)
  34. Art of Pizza (727 S. State)
  35. Clark St. Cross Fit (730 s. Clark)
Closed or Moved Out of the Sloop in 2017
  1. Tamarind Sushi (614 S. Wabash)
  2. Ameritalia (1303 S. Michigan)
  3. Toppers Pizza (727 S. State)
  4. Porkchop (555 S. Dearborn)
  5. Jimmy Green's (825 S. State)
  6. Blackie's (755 S. Clark)
  7. D'Jons Barbershop (1514 S. Wabash)
  8. Lakeside Grocery (1912 S. State)
  9. Bentley's Corner Barkery (250 W. Roosevelt)
  10. Lofty Aspirations (1934 S. Wabash)
  11. Belly-up Smokehouse and Saloon (1132 S. Wabash)
  12. Phenomenal Fitness (1450 S. Michigan)
  13. Freshii (1154 S. Clark)
  14. Health Elements (79 E. 16th)
  15. The Foundry (730 S. Clark)
Since we're talking lists, here are some other businesses that may or may not open up in 2018:
Reflexology Foot Parlor (1319 S. Michigan)
• TBD Salon (705 S. Dearborn)
• Pin me up (2411 S. Michigan)
 Natural Girl (1547 S. State)
• Big Shoulders Chicago (1449 S. Michigan)
• Rosebud's Artist's Cafe (1150 S. Wabash)
• The Vault (1325 S. Michigan)
• M Vie (TBD)
 TBD tattoo Parlor  (2008 S. Prairie)
• TBD Asian Restaurant (1234 S. Michigan)
• TBD Medical Services Business (41 W. Congress)
• Taco Bell Cantina (407 S. Dearborn)
• Taco Madre (823 S. State)
• Low Country (1132 S. Wabash)
• Poke Burrito (453 S. Dearborn)
• Team Rehabilitation (2100 S. Michigan)
• (1325 S. Michigan)
• Dollop Coffee Co (801 S. Financial) 
• Willow Creek Community Church (1319 S. State) 
Blaze Pizza (511 S. State) 

Stay tuned!

For a look back here is our final tally for 2012 (+25 new businesses), our final tally for 2013 (+41 new businesses), our final tally for 2014 (+19 businesses), our final tally for 2015 (+19 new business) and our final tally for 2016 (+12 new businesses)!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Crazy Icicle's Close Down Wabash

In case you missed this over the weekend (via Chicago Tribune):
A block of Wabash Avenue was closed Saturday evening and was expected to remain closed overnight after ice engulfed an old-fashioned fire escape on a high-rise building, authorities said.  
City officials closed Wabash from Harrison Street to Balbo Avenue at 5 p.m. because of falling ice, according to police.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Willow Creek Community Church Taking Over Entire Property of 1319-1347 S State Street?

A reader sent us a link (via Willow Creeks website):
Willow Chicago has been searching for a permanent home for a number of years. While we have enjoyed hosting services in the Auditorium Theatre, the cost and the limitations are hindering us as a church community. After years of searching for a permanent home, God has answered our prayer with the property at 1319-1347 S State Street.
You can read more about their plans on their website, but judging by this rendering it seems like they're taking the whole building over:

Congrats to them, but curious what's happening to the rest of the businesses in the building.  We know Rainforest Learning Center had a pretty big space in the middle, so wonder if they're relocating or what.  Anyone have the scoop?

It looks like their "Worship Center" is slated to open in Spring 2018.  This appears to be on the south-side of the building, so maybe they will be gradually taking over the building?

(Hat tip:  CW!)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Some of Chicago's Most Popular Instagram Photo Spots in the Sloop

Probably not surprising, but some South Loop staples were some of the most Instgrammed spots in 2017 (via Curbed):

Coming in at #9 was Lollapalooza (aka Grant Park).  This was the only "spot" that was an event vs. a location:
And at #4 was Soldier Field:
A post shared by Amurta Nath (@natham2132) on

Blaze Pizza Coming to University Center (511 S. State)

A reader writes:
Lots of loud construction noises coming from the space next to Panda Express. I did a little investigating and found that Blaze Pizza is opening a location there. See link.
Interestingly another create your own pizza concept - Pizza Studio - was supposed to open up at University Center.  That didn't happen.

We've never had Blaze, but know they have a good following.  Thoughts?

(Hat tip: PL!)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

World Market Closing on Jan 20th at Southgate Complex's the new year and we have our first business closing (via Daily Herald):
Two area Cost Plus World Market stores confirmed today that they are closing in January.

Stores in Northbrook and the Chicago South Loop will close on Jan. 20, store employees said.
Curious to see what might go in.  Interestingly it's been some time since the space above World Market was occupied.  As a reminder, that was a Office Depot that closed back in December of 2008 (wow 10 years!).