Friday, June 28, 2019

Looking at the New Apartments at the Old Ebony & Jet Building on Michigan Avenue

The Crusader checks-in on the new apartment building that took over the historic Ebony and Jet building at 820 S. Michigan:
The avant garde-designed test kitchen on the tenth floor is gone. Now, on all 11 floors are many, many kitchens, complete with brand-name, stainless steel refrigerators and ovens. And the front yard is still Grant Park.
Johnson Publishing Company may be gone, but its former headquarters in the South Loop lives on.

Vacant for nearly a decade, the historic landmark is humming again with a new purpose after a soft opening earlier this year. Reincarnated as a luxury apartment building, the house that John H. Johnson built to produce Ebony and Jet magazines is now called 820 South Michigan Avenue. It’s the address of a building that made history when Johnson was the first and only Black man to build his empire on Michigan Avenue.

So how much does it cost:
The monthly rent for a studio apartment at 820 South Michigan ranges from $1,499 to $1,575 depending on the size. For a one-bedroom apartment that is 494 square feet, residents pay $1,735, according to the website. The monthly rent for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment ranges from $2,395 to $2,495, for units as small as 692 square feet to as big as 795.
The neighborhood is flush with apartment units and the competition seems to only be increasing.  While the rooms look nice and modern, they also look sort of cramped by the pictures.  Some likely have unobstructed beautiful views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan, but is that enough to beat the competition? 

Maybe - we'll see. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Work Begins on the Wells-Wentworth Connector Road Within The 78

We've received some emails asking about activity at The 78 and it appears these perceptive readers were on to something (via Curbed):
With little fanfare, crews recently broke ground at “The 78,” a massive development replacing a 62-acre vacant lot along the Chicago River’s south branch.

Last week, crews operating half a dozen bulldozers were digging through patches of soil on the northwest side of the site adjacent to the river. The work is significant because it marks the initial phase of the construction of mixed-use megadevelopment as well as the final stage of the Wells-Wentworth Connector project.

In April, the city council approved Related Midwest’s $7 billion mixed-use megadevelopment—an ambitious plan to construct 13-million square feet of new residential, commercial, and retail space, a public-private research center, and a seven-acre crescent-shaped park.

As part of the project, the city approved a $700 million subsidy in the form of a tax increment financing (TIF) district to pay for infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood, including $364 million for the new Red Line station, the relocation of Metra tracks, and improvements on Clark Street.

The Wells-Wentworth Connector, the new road will directly connect the Loop and Chinatown by roadway for the first time, is another key part of The 78’s infrastructure. Related says it expects the work to be completed by the end of 2020.

The whole project has a long way to go, but this is a big step as it means there is finally progress coming to the vast open space.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Food Network Star Apparently Bringing His Pennsylvania BBQ Restaurant - The Lucky Well - to Roosevelt Collection

Eating establishments at Roosevelt Collection have had a mixed bag.  While Nando's seems to be entrenched - even with it's location "hidden" in the back of the complex - other places like Mago Grill and more recently Porkchop have had a hard go.  A reader writes:
Hello fellow South Loop resident. Appears Porkchop has closed.

Some others - like World of Beers - have announced plans to come to the complex but then didn't.

With that said, we were cautiously optimistic to reach about an exciting concept apparently coming to the complex (via Forbes):
Fans of Memphis-style BBQ will have a new place to visit next year since Food Network Star, Chopped Grill Masters and Chef Chad Rosenthal expands The Lucky Well’s footprint to include Chicago’s South Loop.

As his original location in Ambler, Pennsylvania, the restaurant will focus on Memphis-style dry-rub meats, top-shelf whiskey and classic craft cocktails in a live blues atmosphere. The restaurant will be part of the Roosevelt Collection Shops.

As part of his research, Rosenthal visited local barbecue joints and legendary blues stages and is hoping to make the restaurant a genuine coming-together moment of the iconic atmosphere of Chicago blues and delicious cuisine. As such, in addition to hosting live blues music, the kitchen will be cooking up specialty dishes such as Chef’s locally sourced dry-aged steaks, Farmer’s Market salads, unique spins on fried catfish, and more, every weekend.

While The Lucky Well’s number one seller is Memphis dry-rub ribs, the idea is that guests will have plenty of choices on the menu from which to choose.
We're not familiar with Chad Rosenthal or The Lucky Well, but the article makes it sound like he's the real deal.  It's a little weird that this news would drop in Forbes...but ok?!?!?!?!

Since this will have live music, we assume they would be taking over the space where Mago Grill was since it was big, but we're not sure.

If anyone has more info let us know. 

(Hat tip: JS, LA, DS!)

Friday, June 21, 2019

Eater's Most Anticipated Summer Openings: Moody Tongue Brewing's Taproom & Restaurant

Eater Chicago outlines their most anticipated restaurant openings this summer.  While none are in the Sloop proper (arguably), one is damn close and damn exciting:
Moody Tongue Brewing’s Taproom and Restaurant Address: 2515 S. Wabash Avenue, Near South Side
Key Players: Jeremy Cohn, Jared Rouben, chef Jared Wentworth

Earlier this year, Moody Tongue announced the closure of its Pilsen tasting room, one of the prettiest places to enjoy a beer in Chicago. This was in preparation for their move across town into the former Baderbrau space near McCormick Place. Brewer Jared Rouben takes a chef’s approach to making beer, but they didn’t serve a full menu in Pilsen, only oysters and chocolate cake. That’s not the case at their new digs. Not only will Moody Tongue open a beer tasting room in their new space, but ownership also plans a fine-dining restaurant with Chicago industry vet Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle, Mordecai) as chef. They’re looking at a late summer opening.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Some Juicy Renderings of the Planned Printers Row Roots Pizza

The Roots Pizza post from Monday is a hot topic (some excited, some questioning why we need more pizza in the Sloop).  Regardless of your feelings, a reader posted in the comments a link to some renderings.  If you're like us, you're excited about this infill and can all rally around a retractable roof, right?  From
Address: 742 South Dearborn Chicago, IL 60654
Neighborhood: Printers Row
Square Footage: 9,600
The third location of Roots Handmade Pizza is projected to open in 2020 across from Dearborn Station, adjacent to Printers Row and Jones College Prep.

The first-floor cozy ambience will contrast the second floor’s entertainment-focused vibe and both spaces will be curated in a manner to capture different market segments. The first floor will give semblance to a neighborhood pizzeria, more in the style of the original Roots location, where visitors will feel at home. A dog-friendly sidewalk cafe will line Polk Street, in addition to a separate entrance on Dearborn to be used for carryout, delivery, and curbside pickup.

The second-floor space is designed with corporate functions and alcohol sales in mind. The retractable roof will highlight the premiere indoor/outdoor dining space in the South Loop. Roots will pursue licensing to allow live music and DJs and the d├ęcor will create an ambiance to reflect a destination for nightlife, entertainment, and heavily produced corporate events. In total, the restaurant will seat approximately 340 people.

Looking west from Dearborn

Looking east from Federal

Looking north from Polk

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Mei's Asian Small Plates & Dumplings Now Open at the SE Corner of 11th and Wabash

We've received some emails about a "new" restaurant opening on the corner of 11th and Wabash where the new Hilton Garden Inn is:

What's interesting is that there is a restaurant called Mei's Kitchen at 1108 S. Michigan at the bottom of the Best Western.  Are these two associated?  We would imagine yes.  Did the restaurant at 1108 S. Michigan relocate here?  Maybe?

Anyone have more info?

We've never been to the one on 1108 S. Michigan, but it's been open as long as we've been in the Sloop.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Another Sign Roots Pizza Moving Forward - Job Postings for Sloop Location

In case you were still questioning whether Roots Pizza was coming to the Sloop, a reader provides some more evidence:
Randomly saw this on Indeed, so I guess the new roots is still happening...
Join the leadership team at Roots Handmade Pizza. In 2019, Roots has two locations and will be expanding with 2 more locations in the heart of Chicago (Old Town, Printer's Row). We are looking for solid, driven individuals who are looking for growth potential. If this is you, we would like to meet with you. Prospective employees will go through the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group's Manager Training Program and be a part of a growing division in the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group.

As a reminder, we checked in on this about a month ago when we read a random sentence in an article about Roots opening in the Sloop in presumably February 2020.  We think the location is going to be the high-profile SW corner of Dearborn and Polk at this vacant lot:

(Hat tip: JD!)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Sumi Japanese Restaurant Open at 1303 S. Michigan

Maybe this is old news, but apparently Sumi Japanese Restaurant is now open at 1303 S. Michigan!  We see people inside eating:

Has anyone been yet?  Good?

Currently has 4.9 rating on 9 reviews on Google.  They have a nice website with some delicious looking pics.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Huge Milestone for the South Loop's Portion of the Chicago River

A great sign for the underutilized South Loop portion of the Chicago River (via Curbed):
The revamped eastern segment of the Chicago Riverwalk isn’t the only new waterfront improvement headed downtown. Crews are putting the finishing touches on a quarter-mile-long pedestrian path between Harrison Street and the River City Apartments along the river’s south branch.
Masterplanned by Perkins+Will and designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, the new riverwalk is part of the larger Southbank development from Lendlease. It will offer a waterfront viewing platform, a kayak launch, natural landscaping along the river’s edge, and the potential for a future water taxi stop.

A stone amphitheater at the adjacent Southbank park can host small public events and concerts, according to a statement from the developer. Although privately funded and maintained, these open space amenities will be available to the public when it is completed later this year.
Beyond this the post talks how the future of the South Loop portion will be extended:
The upcoming Southbank riverwalk offers a preview of what a revitalized south branch of the Chicago River could look like in the future. The first segment will be eventually joined by a new pathway crossing in front of the Riverline development to the immediate south. Just beyond that, a 100-foot-wide public riverwalk is planned at the sprawling mixed-use megadevelopment known as The 78.
Great stuff!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Chicago Food Truck Fest Coming to Wabash (Between 16th & 18th) on June 22/23

Looks like a food truck fest is coming to Wabash:
Chicago Food Truck Festival in the South Loop food trucks powered by Chicago Food Truck Festival Location:
Between 1800 & 1600 S Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60616
Entrance: 1800 S. Wabash, Chicago IL 60616
Dates: June 22nd & 23rd, 2019
Time:11am to 8pm ​ 
If you're curious about this you can head over to their website, but here is a list of all the foodtrucks:

  • Piko Street Kitchen
  • Yum Dum
  • Decadent Flavors
  • Harold's
  • Island Noodles
  • Chesa Gluten Free
  • Cupcakes for Courage
  • Lucy's
  • Pierogi Wagon
  • Ms Titles Cupcakes
  • Bills Grill
  • Bopar
  • Lobster Claw
  • Soul Katina
  • Caponies Express
  • I94 Ribs
  • Big Mama's Kitchen
  • Fresh off the Grill
  • Fido to Go
  • Beaver's Donuts
  • Giordanos Food Truck
  • Good Burger
  • Auntie Vee's
  • Big Wang's Food Truck
  • The Happy Lobster Truck
  • Five Squared
  • Jerk Chicken Truck
  • Five Squared
  • Marios Taco's
  • Cute as a Cupcake
  • Lawrence Fish & Shrimp
  • Whadda Jerk
  • Aztec Daves
  • Cheesies
  • Mexi-Tacos
  • Coastline Cove
  • El Campeon
  • Loop Juice
  • Mr. Quiles
  • Hotdog Fiend
  • Tamale Spaceship
  • The Cajun Connoisseur
  • Victor Love's
Does anyone have any favorites of the list above?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Two Sloop Bars Register On Eater's "15 Hottest Rooftop Bars & Terraces" List

The buildout of terraces and rooftops is a trend most Chicagoans love.  For the Sloop, unfortunately we didn't really have many options, but in the past year that has changed and Eater has taken notice as two Sloop spots register on their list of the "15 Hottest Rooftop Bars & Terraces":
13. SX Sky Bar808 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
The team behind perhaps the city’s most popular rooftop bar — Londonhouse — debuted this swanky nightlife-driven terrace on the fifth and sixth floors of the Hotel Essex in the South Loop. Fancy expensive cocktails, snapper sashimi, a dance floor, and views of downtown landmarks are on offer.

14. VU Rooftop Bar133 E Cermak Rd
Chicago, IL 60616

The South Side got its first rooftop bar when this year-round spot opened in fall 2018 near McCormick Place. VU Rooftop Bar has terrific views from the 22nd floor, three bars, a karaoke room, firepits, and retractable windows for the colder months.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Grail Cafe Coming to Printers Row

Looks like Printers Row is getting cafe - yay!  A reader writes:
I'm not sure if you’re aware of this yet...

We went to the website, but it has little information.  We've always thought that Dearborn was a prime strip for more restaurant/bar options.  Hopefully this is a sign of more to come.

Anyone have any scoop?

(Hat tip: S!)

Friday, June 7, 2019

One Central Development Faces Questions & Resistance from Local Politicians and Residents

Third post this week referencing the One Central Development!  Lots of interest in this development since it is rumored to cost $20 billion and could reshape the neighborhood.

The two stories of interest we read yesterday was one from the Chicago Sun-Times where our new mayor took a firm stance with the developers:
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she essentially read the riot act this week to the Wisconsin developer of One Central, a massive project proposed for just west of Soldier Field.
She’s not happy with the way Landmark Development is running roughshod over elected officials and the neighboring residents they represent.

She doesn’t like the fact that developer Bob Dunn went to Springfield “under cover of darkness” to slip authorization for a $3.8 billion transit hub — a key to the project — into the state capital bill.

That transit hub, built over the rail tracks just west of the football stadium, would serve as the base for a string of up to 10 skyscrapers. But Lightfoot is not at all certain the transit center should be a priority for the city of Chicago, given the city’s other more pressing mass transit needs.

“I don’t like the way that they are conducting themselves. And I made that clear in no uncertain terms,” Lightfoot said of the City Hall meeting Tuesday, where she made an appearance “for about three minutes.”

The other story was in Crain's and takes stock of the community meeting that Alderman Dowell and the developer held on Wednesday night.  It's a good read, but here is our favorite blurb:
Dowell, whose ward includes the development site, hosted an initial community meeting on One Central in March, after Landmark Development unveiled its preliminary plans. Last night’s meeting was touted as the beginning of a community engagement process that will last several months.

“I just want to say again, as I said in the meeting on March 13, this project is in its infancy. It is not a done deal,” Dowell said at the beginning of the meeting, to some applause. “There have been no backdoor deals. My office, nor the office of the city of Chicago, nor CTA, nor Metra have signed off on this project or have given its approval.”

Though the General Assembly recently signed off on a deal that would allow the developer to secure as much as $5.1 billion in equity and financing costs, the Chicago City Council still needs to approve a zoning change for the project.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Don't Forget! 35th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest is Here this Weekend

Our favorite local fest is here (via WBEZ):
Dates:Saturday, June 8 10am-6pm
Sunday, June 9 10am-6pm
The 2019 Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by founding organization the Near South Planning Board, returns to its roots to bring you the 35th annual book fair, with a bigger footprint along South Dearborn Street from Polk Street to the newly named Ida B. Wells Drive (Congress Parkway). This year’s fair includes more book dealers, all-free programs, a kids favorite book character costume parade, and much more.

Valerie Jarrett and Alex Kotlowitz, 2019 Winner of the Harold Washington Literary Award, will be featured in this year’s festival programming, with many more to be announced soon. The growing list of sponsors for the 2019 Printer's Row Lit Fest includes Wintrust, Chicago Tribune, WBEZ Chicago, Poetry Foundation, Newcity, American Writers Museum, Make It Better, and Chicago Public Library.

 For more info head on over to the Lit Fest website.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Local Representatives Caution State/City Lawmakers on the One Central Megadevelopment

Unsurprisingly, the One Central development - that over the weekend got a shot in the arm with potential of billions of dollars from the state - has been met with some local opposition (via Crains):
Perhaps pushed by neighborhood opposition, four lawmakers who represent the South Side lakefront have written Gov. J.B. Pritzker urging him to go slow on finalizing any deal for an up to $5.1 billion state investment in the proposed One Central megadevelopment on air rights west of Soldier Field.

In a letter dated May 31—the date the General Assembly authorized state officials to negotiate a contract finalizing a One Central deal without coming back to lawmakers—Sens. Mattie Hunter and Robert Peters, and Reps. Kam Buckner and Lamont Robinson all cited strong local concerns about the size of the project, which eventually could cost $20 billion or more.
It doesn't sound like the lawmakers are saying "no", but they are asking for the process to be inclusive of local input - which seems reasonable.  They are also subtly telling state/city lawmakers to slow down.

This is a story that isn't going to stop, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.  As always, local residents have varying motivations for support and opposition.  It ranges from people who might get their views blocked (and home values impacted) to people who simply don't want more congestion to people who would love more "action" in the neighborhood.

Stay tuned.

(Side note:  we wish they had a better rendering of the development.  Is it us or does the image above look cartoonish?)

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Teriyaki Madness - "a Japanese Chipotle" - Moving in at 829 S. Wabash

Teriyaki Madness, a fast-casual Asian restaurant chain, hopes to open 20 locations in the Chicago area, starting with a store in Lombard on Monday and the first of three planned downtown spots this summer, serving made-to-order bowls of meat, rice and vegetables.

Three franchise owners are on board for Chicago-area stores, including one at 829 S. Wabash Ave. in the South Loop this year, two in yet-to-be-announced locations and another in Cherry Valley near Rockford in 2019 or early 2020.

The openings play into the Denver-based company’s plan to grow from its current 55 stores to 500 over the next five to seven years. Teriyaki Madness lets guests choose their protein, rice or noodles, and vegetables, dished up in huge portions.

Nik Patel, who with his wife, Rita, owns the Lombard location, describes the concept as “a Japanese Chipotle.”

We've never heard of this place, but according to Yelp it's pretty popular (4.5 stars).  It looks more like a Panda Express style restaurant than a Chipotle, but what do we know.

As a reminder the 829 S. Wabash location is in the East/West University building and was home to Au Bon Pain for 3 years.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Flurry of Legislative Activity Could Reshape Illinois, Chicago & Sloop

If you were sleeping this weekend (or just not reading or watching the news) you might have missed the flurry of legislative activity that was happening down in Springfield.

What happened? Read this from Crain's:
The most momentous legislative session in decades finally has ended, and the spring session that adjourned Sunday evening likely will impact the state’s fiscal climate and social policies for a very long time.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and those who believe state government needs to play a bigger, more expansive role than it has got just about everything they wanted in the session that ran only a couple of days over, from new policies on hot-button social issues such as abortion, marijuana and gambling to movement toward a graduated income tax, a higher minimum wage, a balanced budget and the largest capital program in state history.

Ironically, the last two came with the backing of GOP legislative leaders and much of the business community. They pointed to a series of business-friendly actions that made the trade worth it, including new tax incentives for data centers and a restoration of the manufacturers’ purchase credit. Other conservatives strongly disagreed.

Also included in the avalanche of legislative action are things most voters are just learning about. Such as requiring internet e-tailers to pay the same sales tax as brick-and-mortar operators. Or an initial legislative green light for the $20 billion One Central mega-development to be built on air rights just west of Soldier Field. And permission for a Chicago casino that will be among the largest in the country, and that set off immediate speculation as to where the Chicago facility will be located.


For the Sloop, we'll be curious to see what all this means.  Sports betting and the much discussed "Chicago Casino" could have some interesting impact.  When this was discussed in years past there was talk of various locations in and around the neighborhood - Michael Reese and McCormick Place East to name a few.  This was pretty much echoed in the Crain's article:
Intense speculation already is occurring over where Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants the 4,000-position Chicago casino to go. Lightfoot once had seemed to suggest the Southeast Side, perhaps the old USX property, but insiders say she may back off of that in favor of another location, maybe the 78 property in the South Loop or the former Michael Reese Medical Center land.  
Beyond that the new proposed One Central development just west of LSD and Soldier Field could be thrown out as an option for a casino.  Speaking of which, the developer got a big shot in the arm as the state budget includes a whopping number to potentially help with this massive plan:
...the budget implementation authorized negotiation of a contract in which the state would invest up to $5.1 billion in developer Bob Dunn’s Central One project.
Recreational marijuana anyone?  Will we get a shop (or two or three) in the Sloop?  Smoke Vapors at 537 S Dearborn?

Anyway, pretty epic weekend if you're into state politics.