Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ominous Signs Show Up on Door of The Lobo Canteen (1307 S. Wabash) and Readers Are Pondering Why

We've received a lot of emails asking what's up with The Lobo Canteen at 1307 S. Wabash.  We don't know what is going on, but wanted to include a reader's note:
Is this another south loop casualty? It never really found its footing and was never that good to be honest.

It baffles me with the amount of foot traffic that has occurred in this neighborhood over the past couple of years, that we can’t seem to land any quality restaurants.

What does the West Loop have that we don’t??
In our opinion, at this stage the West Loop and South Loop are very different neighborhoods.  Yes, we share proximity to the Loop (hence each neighborhoods name), but outside of that the two neighborhoods have taken divergent paths.  We actually wrote about this on the back of a Crain's article in January.  While the West Loop has a bustling food and nightlife scene it doesn't have the same access to some of Chicago's most revered cultural and natural resources (Grant Park, Museums, Lake Michigan, etc). 

Anyway, the reader is specifically talking about quality restaurants.  This has been a heavily debated question since we've been in the Sloop (since 2008!).  One could argue that there are quality restaurants - Acadia, South Coast, Cafe Bionda, Kurah, Sociale, Umai, Half Sour, Mercat - to name a few that come to mind.

One hypothesis we have is that the South Loop's restaurant and nightlife scene isn't clustered and as a result doesn't feel like it exists.  If you look to the West Loop - "restaurant row" on Randolph helped brand that neighborhood as a dinning destination.  Over time, the neighborhood organically grew from there and now is what it is.  A similar phenomenon could be explained in some other neighborhoods (division street and North/Milwaukee in Wicker Park or even Rush street awhile back in the Gold Coast for example).

The closest we have to that in the Sloop is the 1300 block of Wabash (which as we see above has had a spotty run with "quality" restaurants) and Printer's Row.  In our opinion, Printer's Row has the most promise given it's unique feel and it's orientation within the city grid - how Dearborn Station beautifully looms over the intersection of Polk and Dearborn.  If one or two - quality/unique restaurants setup shop in that area - ideally on Dearborn we could see that strip continue to takeoff.

Any other theories?

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