Friday, January 31, 2020

My Place Looks to be Moving in to Former Lobo Ray Space at

A reader writes:
I also wanted to let you know that a new sign went up at the former Lobo Canteen on Wabash yesterday (Tuesday, Jan. 28). I snapped a picture while hurrying to the train, so it's not useable, but I wanted to share it with you for the info it includes. It reads:
MY Place
Authentic Chinese Cuisine and Seafood
We saw people (presumably workers) in the space last Monday night (Jan. 20) from across the street when we were leaving dinner at Flo and Santo's.

We then got this from another reader which goes into the concept (via LTH Forum):
Exterior signage for Myplace is up at the former Lobo Ray space on Wabash. A quick scan of the interwebs shows that the restaurant was formerly located in Chinatown; its original incarnation focused on noodle/casserole/congee dishes + the usual bubble tea and smoothie assortment. Smart move to hightail it up north a few blocks: the neighborhood needs this sort of place, and they'll have no competition. (Ming Hin, which also just opened in the neighborhood, is going for something much, well, louder.)

As a reminder, this spot once housed Zapatista but that closed in 2015 after a good run.  After that Lobo Ray - an upscale, trendy taco spot took over in 2017, but had struggles and closed in 2019.  Will be curious to see how My Place does given that their is another Asian restaurant (Asian Outpost) next door. 

Interesting that another Chinatown restaurant is moving into the Sloop.  Seems to be a trend with MingHin moving in at 1234 S. Michigan.

(Hat tip:  MY & CF!)

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Apolonia Restaurant - from the Chef of S.K.Y. in Pilsen - Coming to Corner of Michigan and Cermak

A reader sent us this link and sounds like a huge get for Motor Row Entertainment District (via LTH Forum):
Chef Stephen Gillanders, owner of acclaimed S.K.Y. restaurant in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, introduces the launch of a unique new concept slated to open this fall. Apolonia, named after Gillanders’ grandmother, will be located in South Loop and feature European-Mediterranean fare with an emphasis on seafood. The bright, 100-seat space will evoke a contemporary, approachable atmosphere, and offer Chef Gillanders' signature shared-plate, social dining experience.
"I'm excited to show how much range we have as a team. Apolonia will differ completely from S.K.Y. conceptually, however, we will carry with us the things that have worked so well for us operationally: service, technical execution, creativity and culture. The idea is to provide a completely new experience to our guests, rooted with the same principles we have grown into and executed with the same precision we are known for,” Gillanders explains.
The space is located at 2201 S. Michigan Ave. and will offer dinner service five days a week with plans to expand into weekend brunch and eventually lunch. According to Gillanders, "The South Loop area is beautiful and growing and absolutely ready for a restaurant such as Apolonia."

We've heard of S.K.Y. but have never been.  Doing some googling and it looks like it's killing it in Pilsen - 4.5 stars on Yelp, positive write-ups in Chicago Tribune, recognition from the Jean Blanchet Awards.

While the corner of Michigan and Cermak hasn't historically been a coveted spot, the vision and potential has always been there.  This is another MAJOR step in the right direction for this area and in our opinion is probably the biggest indicator of a potential tipping point.  If this restaurant can thrive it could easily spawn the entertainment district the city has been coveting for some time.

(Hat tip:  CF!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Recreational Dispensary Scouts Out Locations In and Near the Sloop

Looks like a new business on Wabash could change how people experience the Wabash Arts Corridor (via Block Club):
As cannabis companies race to open new dispensaries in Chicago’s lucrative retail corridors, the field has now been expanded to the South Loop.
PharmaCann, which is currently permitted to open four recreational dispensaries in Chicago — including two in the lucrative Central Cannabis District — is eyeing two locations along South Wabash Avenue in and near the South Loop, according to documents filed with the city.
Those locations include a one-story building at 418 S. Wabash Ave. across the street from Roosevelt University on the south end of the Loop. The building rents for $225,000 per year, according to commercial real estate brokerage Sperry Van Ness.
The company is also looking at a retail space below the Fairbanks Lofts at 900 S. Wabash Ave. on the Columbia College campus in the South Loop.

To be clear the 418 S. Wabash location is north of Ida B Wells (formerly Congress) and we would argue is more "Loop" than "South Loop" - but it's still damn close.  Here is a look at that building:

What is definitely in the Sloop is the 900 S. Wabash location:

This location has never had a long term tenant since we've been doing Sloopin (over 12 years).  That said, it has a myriad of pop-up stores - things like seasonal Halloween store and pop-up stores from artists and Nike (in 2014).

While the space at 900 S. Wabash is pretty dated, it's a good location and has a lot of "character".  It would probably make a great spot for a weed shop given it's proximity to many colleges and central location within the neighborhood.

The article surely doesn't seem to say it's a slam dunk, but this is the first concrete story we've read about a dispensary coming to the South Loop.

(Hat tip:  DS!)

Monday, January 27, 2020

Harbor Leaves Neighbors Impressed

A reader weighs in on the new Harbor restaurant:
Living in the Sloop for 12 years, we have seen restaurants come and go. We think Harbor is a winner!  We dine out weekly, and since we are seafood lovers, we anxiously waited for Harbor to open. We were not disappointed. We had their mussels, trout, and walleye dishes. Outstanding in flavor, portions, and presentation.

We then indulged in their warm cookie topped with walnut ice cream.
The interior has been beautifully redesigned.
Harbor will definitely be a great place to have drink and bites at the bar, or a dinner with family and friends.
Looks like it's not just this reader.  Yelp (as of this post) has a 4.5 rating and seems like the restaurant is off to a good start.

Best of luck to them and we're looking forward to stopping by.

(Hat tip: JH!)

Friday, January 24, 2020

Uber Downsizing Presence at Old Post Office

We've spent a ton of time covering the developments of the new Old Post Office and some of the impact it will likely have on the northern area of the Sloop.  This has included a slew of new, high-profile tenants such as Walgreens, Pepsico and Cisco.  In an interesting twist, another one of those major tenants - Uber - are slightly altering their plans (via Chicago Tribune):   
The biggest office tenant headed to the redeveloped Old Post Office could be getting a little smaller as Uber looks to offload a block of the massive space it leased last year.
If Uber finds someone to sublease the space, it would reduce the 463,000-square-foot footprint planned by the company and whittle down what was one of the largest leases signed in the Chicago office market in recent years.
San Francisco-based Uber confirmed the 10-year lease in August. The company’s commitment was a key moment in the $800 million-plus redevelopment of the 2.8 million-square-foot former old main post office at 433 W. Van Buren St., which sat vacant for more than two decades before New York-based 601W Cos. took on the project. The first office tenants moved there in October.
Uber is offering a 10-year sublease on 65,000 square feet, starting Jan. 1 , 2021, according to marketing materials from brokerage CBRE, which represents Uber.
That is about 14% of Uber’s space. In a sublease, Uber could include rights to eventually take back the space as the company expands in Chicago.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Please Help Us Double Check our Sloopin 2019 Business Counter

It seems like 2019 was a long time ago - amiright?

If you could dust off the cobwebs and doublecheck our 2019 business counter we would really appreciate it.  Right now, we have a net positive of 6 new businesses open in 2019.  We feel like there could be some spots on the fringes of the neighborhood that we missed:

Opened in 2019
  1. Kido (Roosevelt Collection)
  2. Elite Eye Care (555 S. Dearborn)
  3. Grant Park Bistro (800 S. Michigan)
  4. Bob's Furniture (Roosevelt and 90/94) 
  5. Kids Wonderland Play & Party (2028 S. Michigan)
  6. SX Sky Bar (808 S. Michigan)
  7. South Asia Institute (1925 S. Michigan)
  8. 9 Round (777 S. State)
  9. Sumi Japanese Restaurant (1303 S. Michigan)
  10. Mei's Asian Small Plates & Dumplings (1101 S. Wabash) 
  11. Totto's Market (751 S. Dearborn)
  12. Giglio's (825 S. State)
  13. Harold's #88 Chicken Shack (1450 S. Michigan)
  14. Lips (2229 S. Michigan)
  15. Il Culaccio (2134 S. Indiana Ave)
  16. Molly's Cupcakes (1150 S. Wabash)
  17. GoGrocer (1401 S. Michigan)
  18. Dentart (2106 S. Michigan)
  19. Pacino's Classic Italian (1010 S. Delano Ct.)
  20. Sultry Steps (1112 S. Delano Ct.)
  21. Jet's Pizza (1140 S. Wabash)
  22. Chipotle (1136 S. Wabash)
Closed or Moved Out of the Sloop in 2019
  1. Z Gallerie (Roosevelt Collection)
  2. Bongo Room (1152 S. Wabash)
  3. The Lobo Cantina (1307 S. Wabash)
  4. Vice District Brewing (1454 S. Michigan)
  5. Wabash Tap (1233 S. Wabash)
  6. Bella Bronze Tan (1503 S. Michigan)
  7. Mai Tai (614 S. Wabash)
  8. Chicago Bicycle Company (728 S. Dearborn)
  9. HAX Hops & Hamburgers (733 S. Dearborn St.)
  10. Cycmode (1333 S. Wabash)
  11. Fruve (1130 S. Wabash)
  12. The Nail Social (73 E. 16th)
  13. 14 Parish (2223 S. Michigan)
  14. White House Black Market (1112 S. Delano Ct)
  15. Mac Kelly's (1347 S. Michigan)
  16. Hair Cuttery (1103 S. State)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Urban Paws Coming to NE Corner of 16th and Wabash?

It looks like a new business is coming to the long vacant retail space on the NE corner of 16th and Wabash:

This must have been empty for 6+ years, right?

We did some searching on the interwebs and couldn't find a website.  Is this open?  Anyone know?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Momentum Coffee and Coworking Coming to 2100 Block of South State Street

It looks like a new coffee shop and co-working space is coming to South State (2100 Block of South State - near Reggie's):

What is Momentum Coffee and Coworking?  Well it's what it sounds like, but if that still isn't clear enough it appears that an existing space called The Blue Lacuna in Pilsen is similar or affiliated.  Here is the "about" page from their site:
Blue Lacuna Co-working space is an evolutional approach to how people work.  This space serves as an ecosystem for passionate personalities to grow themselves and their businesses on many levels through a unique tenancy, highly dynamic environment and first rate programming.
Our goal is to transform office space, event space,  civic space, community participation space, amazing art, creative projects and scores of unique participants into a vibrant and synergized community.
Blue Lacuna is a partnership formed by Ignite Technology and Innovation a not for profit with a mission to build more spaces throughout Chicago and other urban centers in the USA. We strive to create spaces that are affordable but all also create programming that helps accelerate the development of communities.

It appears Momentum Coffee will be similar.

(Hat tip:  KE!) 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Help Out a Young Slooper's Quest To Get Girl Scout Cookies to the Troops

A young reader writes - as of us posting only 31 boxes to go:
My name is Kate.  I am a brownie Girl Scouts who lives in the south loop.  I am selling Girl Scout cookies.  I would be happy to deliver some to you, but I am also trying to get Girl Scout cookies to troops serving overseas.  Would you be willing to donate $5 so American troops overseas can enjoy Girl Scout cookies too?  You can order them on my website.  It is the bottom option on the list of cookies.  Here is the link to my website
Thanks for reading my email.
See you soon,

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Harbor Officially Opens at Former Gioco Space on Wabash (1312 S. Wabash)

Another big opening for the Sloop (via Eater):
A beloved South Loop restaurant space will roar once more starting on Monday night when Harbor opens at 1312 S. Wabash Avenue. The restaurant pays homage to the Great Lakes and its owners’s passion for sailing. Harbor replaces Gioco, an Italian restaurant that lasted 19 years before closing in May 2018. The opening is a big deal for South Loop residents eager for more neighborhood restaurants.
Chef-partner Anthony Bernal, formerly of Mastro’s Steakhouse in River North, put together a tight menu that includes lentil falafel, a raw bar, and plenty of lake fish. The kitchen features a wood-fired oven for thin-crust pizza, and fans may be interested in the New Haven, Connecticut-influenced clam pie. The owners — Joe Taylor, Chris Parth, and Adam Ellis — are industry veterans.
The menu looks small, but interesting.  Curious to try it out, but if you've been let us know.

The bones of the restaurant look similar to Gioco, but certainly has a different vibe inside:

As a reminder Gioco closed in May of 2018 after a great run.  Hopefully Harbor follows suit.

Monday, January 13, 2020

New MingHin Cuisine Opens at 1234 S. Michigan

Looks like the fancy new MingHin is open at 1234 S. Michigan according to their website:

This one has been a long time in the making.  The building originally had many different businesses inside, but most prominently had a neighborhood favorite Asian restaurant called Ma & I.  They abruptly called it quits in 2015

We weren't sure what if anything was going to happen to the building, but four years later this new MingHin is here and the pictures look pretty amazing.

It seems strange to many (and us) that they decided to build this location so close to their Chinatown restaurant, but regardless it's good to see this building move from eyesore to beautifully remodeled. 

Welcome to the Sloop and best of luck.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The X Pot Restaurant That's Coming to Roosevelt Collection Lands On Prestigious Eater List for 2020

One surprising South Loop location pops up on Eater's "The 14 Most Anticipated Restaurants of 2020 in Chicago" list:
The X Pot
Address: Roosevelt Collection, 150 W. Roosevelt Road, South Loop
Key Players: David Zhao, robotic servers
By summer 2020, robots should be swarming Roosevelt Collection. Robotic servers are part of the allure of the X Pot, a new Chinese restaurant that promises a 5D experience for private events. The restaurant, which also has a Las Vegas location, uses video projection to provide customers with an immersive dining experience. Images are projected on plates and walls while patrons eat hot pot and other dishes. Robot servers will complement humans and work together for a unique meal. A spokesperson said customers can also customize their private 5D experience for an additional cost.

We've written about the concept before and certainly are intrigued (and skeptical) but it's interesting to see it popup on this list.  Certainly some high expectations from the crew at Eater.

We did some perusing on their digital footprint and they have some pretty cool pics from their (presumably) Las Vegas location:

Not going to lie...looks pretty cool.  We'll be curious to see if it happens and if hits their summer 2020 goal.

One more interesting thing about the post from Eater was that it appears there is a new music/entertainment space coming to a close location to the Sloop:
Address: 640 W. Cermak Road, Pilsen
Key Players: Nick Karounos, Chef Henry Hill
Details are still trickling in about Radius, a new 55,000-square-foot music venue with room for 2,500 to 3,800 people. The project includes a bar and full-service restaurant inside a space called Cermak Hall. Chef Henry Hill, who helped bring nearby Dusek’s Board and Beer a Michelin star, is consulting on the restaurant’s menu. Stay tuned for menu details as they haven’t yet been released. Musicians with concert dates include inaugural act Dillon Francis, who performs on February 29.

Where is this and is it in the Sloop or Pilsen?  Guess it doesn't matter, but nice to see a music venue that's coming to the South Side.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Beware! Coyote on the Loose in the Sloop!

From a reader:
I don't have a picture because my instincts and reflexes aren't the best, but this morning, I was walking on Plymouth, underneath Roosevelt, when a large, brown coyote ran through the tunnel heading south at a breakneck pace. It was in a full sprint, zipping past parents with children. A car was pulling out of South Loop Elementary and almost hit the coyote, but it ricocheted off the corner of the hood, its limbs akimbo before landing on the asphalt. It then continued barreling down Plymouth.
Everyone stood motionless for a beat, wondering what had just happened. Kids seemed undisturbed, as they probably thought it was a loose dog.
Keep your small pets on short leases, Sloopers.


(Hat tip:  DS!)

Pier 1 Imports Closing Store at The Maxwell Shopping Center (1014 S. Canal)

The picture speaks for itself:

What it doesn't say is when, but after talking to an associate at the store they said the scheduled closed date is Thursday, January 23rd.

If you're a Pier 1 fan there are likely some good deals to be had.

Regarding the impact to the neighborhood or what this means, the answer is likely due to the business of Pier 1 vs. anything specific to the neighborhood.  Here is a story from Fortune three days ago:
Pier 1 Imports is planning a significant increase in store closings as the distressed home-furnishings chain seeks to cut costs and turn around operations.
The company expects to announce the new round of shutdowns when it reports results for its third fiscal quarter next week, according to people with knowledge of the plan. The company aims to restructure out of court, in part by closing stores and using the savings to boost liquidity, said the people.
Filing for bankruptcy is an option under consideration if Pier 1 falls short of its goals, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public yet. 
Pier 1 posted eight straight quarters of declining sales and six consecutive quarterly losses as shoppers defected to new e-commerce players like Wayfair and conventional giants like Walmart that have expanded in the category. Turnaround executive Robert Riesbeck took over as chief executive officer in November, almost a year after Pier 1 replaced a previous CEO and said it would explore strategic alternatives.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Beware: New "Downtown" Uber/Lyft Tax Impacts Huge Part of the Sloop

Well we didn't know this...and it looks like it's going to impact a huge part of the Sloop (via Curbed Chicago):
The mayor’s new transportation tax is now in effect, which means Uber and Lyft riders will now pay more for trips downtown.
In 2019, Mayor Lightfoot eliminated the flat fee of 72 cents. Replacing that fee is a tiered structure which was approved in November and is the highest tax in the nation.
The 2020 fees are meant to incentivize public transit options and shared trips. The highest fees, $3, will be for trips that start or end in a designated downtown zone. All trips in a private car, like an UberX, will have a $1.25 surcharge. The new legislation lowers the fee on shared trips, like Uber Pool or Lyft Line, to 65 cents. Although, shared trips to the downtown zone will be increased to $1.25.

So what is the map of "downtown"?  Here you go:

Just a tip, walk a half a block south of Roosevelt and get cheaper rates (we guess).

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Grail Cafe Officially Opens Their Doors at 715 S. Dearborn

Lots of excitement in the neighborhood about the opening of the new Grail Cafe at 715 S. Dearborn.  They had a soft opening late in December, but officially opened their doors on January 1st, 2020 (from their Facebook Page):

And we've heard from a variety of readers, such as:
Wow, this place is extremely busy! Just wanted to let you know. Barely a seat open during lunch time rush.

We haven't been yet, but curious what everyone is thinking.  If the first 7 reviews on Yelp are true (6 five stars and 1 four star), it seems like it's a gem.  We really liked what A.S.V. said on yelp:
Even before entering, the curb appeal of the beautiful logo and art deco design, finely crafted dark woods and rich golden palette announces that this cafe is something special.
It only gets better when you step inside. While it just opened New Year's Day 2020, you feel like you could be in Paris circa 1925. The vintage stylings are complemented by original artwork by co-owner and accomplished artist Steven Cook. Despite the exquisite decor, it's also warm and inviting, with soft, comfortable booths, inviting smells, quiet ambient music and a friendly staff. Locals might be tempted to make a day of it, which is entirely doable, as the cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We arrived after 5, and while not quite hungry for dinner, sampled the carrot, sweet potato with pistachio pesto soup, and the Mediterranean Couscous en papillote -- cooked in folded parchment paper to seal in moisture and steam the food. They open it up at the table where you get to breathe in the aromas. The herbs and spices were perfectly balanced, and I quickly forgot that I wasn't hungry and inhaled it (making an effort to slow down for moments to savor it). Compliments to chef owner Sheldrick Holmes for the best tasting couscous I might have ever tasted. I look forward to trying the others, Herbed Mahi Mahi and Za'atar Tofu, maybe with some wine next time.
Welcome Grail Cafe and thanks to the owners for bringing your biz to the Sloop!

(Hat tip: JTS!)

Friday, January 3, 2020

Mayor Lightfoot Announces The 78 Community Advisory Council to Aide in Direction of Development

Rendering of The 78 Development South of Roosevelt
The 78 has garnered a ton of interest from neighbors and we've done a ton of posts on the topic.  One of the main challenges from the community on this project (and other massive ones) is that neighborhood input is often times not addressed.  

With that said, it sounds like the Mayor Lightfoot is putting some formality into place to help address this perception (via Curbed Chicago):
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the creation of two community advisory councils that will work the developers and local aldermen representing each project. The groups will be made up of neighborhood volunteers, community leaders, design professionals, and subject-matter experts. Suggestions will be made on an “advisory basis” and implemented into the projects “where possible,” according to a statement from Lightfoot’s office.

The advisory groups are focused on the Lincoln Yards project in Lincoln Park and our 78 project in the Sloop.  For the 78 development, the post says:
Meanwhile, The 78 Community Advisory Council will have 17 members and will collaborate with developer Related Midwest on its 62-acre, 13 million-square-foot Near South Side project. The transformative $7 billion development includes a university-affiliated innovation center and 12 acres of open space, and the plan is expected to take 20 years to complete. A Wells-Wentworth road extension is already under construction at The 78 and the site’s planned Red Line subway station recently won the approval of the Chicago Plan Commission.
The two CAC groups will convene quarterly, beginning in early 2020. Community volunteers interested in joining the Lincoln Yards Community Advisory Council and The 78 Community Advisory Council can submit an online application to the city.
It's a highly important development for the future of the neighborhood, so here is your chance to make a difference.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

#ShotsAroundTheSloop: The Good Fight

Teriyaki Madness "Coming Soon" Sign Shows Up on Windows at 829 S. Wabash

It looks like Teriyaki Madness is getting closer to their opening at 829 S. Wabash:

As a reminder, we posted about this one back in June of 2019.  It's been slow moving, but seems like they're gearing up an opening.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Most Viewed Stories on Sloopin in 2019 and the Decade are....

It's the last day of the year and the decade, so like many people and businesses we're obligated to look back.

Maybe not surprising to most, the story that garnered the most interest in 2019 on Sloopin was titled "Totto's Market Coming to New Retail Space in the Heart of Printers Row".  This was from February and was our fist post about the upscale neighborhood grocery spot.  They went on to open their doors in Mid-July and have been a popular spot for the neighborhood.

Maybe more surprising is the story that garnered the most interest of the decade.  It goes back to October 1st, 2010 and is titled "Police on the Scene: West of Chicago River and South of Roosevelt for Possible Standoff".

We received a ton of traffic from reddit on this one and saw 19,917 page views that day.  The picture was pretty cool (hat tip: JN!):

The Chicago Tribune summed it up like this:
Police were at the scene of a standoff with a man with a rifle and a large knife that started late this morning at a South Loop rail yard. Police were on the scene of a possible standoff south of Roosevelt Road at Lumber Street, west of the Chicago River, according to Chicago Police. Amtrak police discovered someone trespassing on railroad property and the person may be threatening suicide, police said.

It's been a fun is to an even better one in 2020.