Sunday, October 31, 2021

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Venerable, but Disgraced Sloop Restaurant Acadia Officially Closes Its Doors at 1639 S. Wabash

Likely not the biggest surprise in the world, but it looks like the venerable - but recently disgraced - two Michelin-starred Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) has officially closed their doors (via Eater):

Acadia, the two Michelin-starred restaurant from Ryan McCaskey will not reopen, the chef and owner confirms to Eater Chicago. Earlier this month, “for lease” signs went up above the South Loop restaurant marking the official end of McCaskey’s time in Chicago. The restaurant actually closed in July 2020 shortly after a shockwave of allegations were levied against McCaskey by former employees. At the time, McCaskey said he planned to quickly reopen.

McCaskey has since moved to Maine, where he runs another restaurant, Acadia House Provisions. McCaskey says the ongoing pandemic changed his mind to reopen in Chicago. In a statement to Eater, he writes “we decided to close Acadia because of the mounting obstacles of owning a business, especially a restaurant business in Chicago.”

“Rising crime, burglary attempts, staffing shortages and declining revenue at our price point also forced us to shut the doors,” a portion of McCaskey’s statement reads.

While there may be some truth to McCaskey's statement, it was hard to see how this restaurant could reopen based on the explosive accusations about the toxicity and sexual harassment within this high-profile workplace.

The demise of Acadia is a sad tale for a restaurant that was consistently considered one of the best fine dinning spots in the city.  Furthermore, it was a rare restaurant in the Sloop and one that added a level of eating we simply didn't have before.

When Acadia opened in 2012, there was excitement and anticipation that usually isn't present for new restaurants in the neighborhood.  My wife and I saw the potential during our first visit just one week after it officially opened.

Eventually Acadia shifted to a tasting menu concept and took off.  First they earned one star from the famous Michelin guide in 2013.  Then in 2015 earned two stars from the guide - a distinction that put it in rarefied air with a handful of other top restaurants in Chicago.  It was on the dining map in Chicago and in the world.

During the fall of 2020 - in the midst of the pandemic - the Chicago Tribune published some explosive allegations about owner/chef Ryan McCaskey.  If you read the allegations it was pretty damning and pretty detailed.  At the time, McCaskey said these were untrue and vowed to fight them in court - which seems to be happening currently.

The fate of the restaurant was also in limbo.  It was closed "due to covid", but most felt that it couldn't continue to operate in the face of these allegations.  While there is likely more to this story, it seemed inevitable that they wouldn't be able to reopen.

While Acadia will undoubtedly be missed, fine dinning isn't completely gone in the neighborhood.  Moody Tongue (2515 S. Wabash) brewery surprisingly achieved a two star rating from Michelin last year and Apolonia (2201 S. Michigan) has also been praised and may earn some awards as well.  

That said - Acadia exploded onto the scene about a decade ago, but leaves unceremoniously and disgraced.  A sad story no doubt.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Uber Freight Office Opens Doors at the Old Post Office

Looks like Uber's new office in the Sloop is officially open (via Tribune):
Delayed and downsized by the pandemic, Uber opened its sprawling new office space at the redeveloped Old Post Office, which will serve as the headquarters for its Uber Freight business and Chicago operations.

The San Francisco-based ride-share company cut the ribbon on its ninth-floor office Tuesday, with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and other top executives touting a new home and expansive future in Chicago.

The Old Post Office will be the global headquarters for Uber Freight, its fast-growing logistics division launched in 2017 to connect truck drivers with shippers. The space will also house sales, legal, marketing and other staff for the Uber Eats and ride-sharing operations in Chicago.

Chicago’s redeveloped Old Post Office, which has attracted a growing list of technology companies, is now the second largest office location for Uber, both in terms of space and staffing, behind its corporate headquarters, the company said.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Taco Restaurant and Liquor Store Coming to The Cooper on South Wells

We received a press release about two new businesses coming to South Wells:
Lendlease , a leading global real estate group, today announced two new retail leases at The Cooper, its 29-story luxury apartment high-rise located at 720 S. Wells St. in Chicago’s Printers Row. Tatas Tacos will open its fourth Chicago restaurant, while Hops & Scotch, a new bottle shop concept from the owners behind South Loop Market, will open its first location.
“From the beginning, Southbank has been rooted in community, so we were proud to partner with local businesses like Tatas Tacos and Hops & Scotch that, like us, were drawn to this prime riverfront location,” said Ted Weldon, executive general manager of development for Lendlease’s Chicago office. “The experiential nature of these retail and restaurant concepts, together with existing public offerings like Southbank Park and its adjacent riverwalk, will further establish Southbank as a destination for those who do not already call our community home."
Tatas Tacos, which is slated to open in spring 2022, will fill a 5,643-square-foot space on the northern end of the tower. With seating for up to 150 patrons, it will be the largest of the chain’s four locations and serve everything from its popular Mexican Classic and Craft Tacos to more formal plated meals. A brunch menu will also be available on weekends.

We're not familiar with Tatas Tacos but seems to have pretty good reviews online.  There are a lot of taco options in the neighborhood, but restaurants are a little light on Wells.

We are very familiar with the South Loop Markets and nice to see them expanding in the neighborhood with a new concept.

Best of luck to both of these spots!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

New Renderings & Info for One Central Development Revealed

The developer for the massive One Central concept keeps on trying to push forward with his plans (via Tribune):

The developer behind the proposed $20 billion One Central development revealed details for the project’s first phase: a transit center surrounded by roughly 1.4 million square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space on a 35-acre site above the train tracks near Soldier Field.

The full plans for One Central, unveiled in 2019, include up to 22.3 million square feet of buildings with as many as 9,050 residential units and 9.45 million square feet of offices. The project still needs city and state approval to proceed, and Landmark president Bob Dunn has said he expects to submit a zoning application by late October or early November.

The $3.8 billion first phase, which Landmark calls the “Civic Build,” includes a transit center linking Metra, Amtrak and CTA trains and a new bus or tram route stopping at destinations like Soldier Field, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, Grant and Millennium parks and McCormick Place.

The operative phrase is "still needs city and state approval to proceed" and everything we've seen seems to point to the fact that our government leaders have little interest in this project.

A big elephant in the room is the status of the Chicago Bears and the place they currently call home - Soldier Field.  The article states that the potential of the Bears moving would have minimal impact on this development, but we call BS on that one.  On the flip side, could this development help keep the Bears downtown if they can get a piece of this massive development?  No clue if that type of arangement could be struck, but we're trying to think creatively.

Anyway - the article has some fun new renderings if you're interested.  Here are a couple:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Chicago Sky Bring Championship to Chicago and the Sloop!

As the Arlington Heights Bears got owned in typical fashion by the Green Bay Packers today, it was nice to see another professional Chicago sports team bring home a championship.  Congrats to the Chicago Sky who just won their first WNBA championship at Wintrust Arena at their home court in the Sloop.  Hometown hero Candace Parker came back to Chicago and accomplished her goal (via ESPN):

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

GeeFit Opening Up Gym at Aspire Residences (2111 S. Wabash)

Looks like a training club called GeeFit is opening up shop at the Aspire Residences retail space (2111 S. Wabash):

We're not familiar with GeeFit, but did find this video on their website if you're looking for some info:

GeeFit 30 Day Challenge from Highpower Studios on Vimeo.

Welcome to the neighborhood and we wish you well!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Impact of Lingering Pandemic Sinks Harbor Restaurant (1312 S. Wabash)

We've lost a solid restaurant choice (via insta):

Here is what the caption said:
It's with much sadness that we are announcing Harbor is now closed for the foreseeable future.

With the external pressures and financial impact of the pandemic, it was a storm we just couldn't weather as a young restaurant that opened its doors January 2020.

We can't thank everyone enough for the support from our first day to the last. We will miss serving you and enjoyed every minute of the last 20 months. Harbor was very lucky to be welcomed warmly by the South Loop and have many amazing patrons and dedicated employees. We hope to see you again in the future.
Sad to see Harbor go.  It was an ambitious concept and a restaurant type the neighborhood didn't have.  We were excited about the potential and the initial response from the neighborhood was very positive

The silver lining is that the restaurant space has been retooled so whomever comes next will hopefully be able to step in with minimal buildout work.  

(Hat tip:  CW!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Chicago Marathon Running Through the Sloop this Sunday (10/10)

 The Chicago Marathon is back and coming through the Sloop this Sunday (10/10).  It's a fun event and brings a different energy (and exhaustion) to the neighborhood.  If you're needing some inspiration, head on out and find a space to cheer on the runners - it really lifts the soul.

You can find more info at the Chicago Marathon website, but if you're looking to check out the race (or avoid it if you need to) here is a snapshot of the course in our vicinity:

Monday, October 4, 2021

Developer: Chicago Bears Moving Wouldn't Affect One Central Development Plans

The Bears won yesterday and looked like a mediocre football team (vs. a horrible one the previous week), but much of the discussion around the team still swirls around their future home.

It almost seem inevitable that they're going to be leaving the lakefront at this point, but we'll see.  That said, we've been curious to see if the proposed One Central development that is slated to be just west of Soldier Field across LSD could have any impact on the plans.  

Could the Bears find new revenue streams by being included in that deal?  Maybe, but it's probably not that simple.  If the Bears move, it seems like another hurdle calling into question if One Central is truly needed.  For what it's worth we just read an article and the stance from the developer is (via Chicago Tribune):

The Chicago Bears’ potential departure from Soldier Field will not be a hurdle, Dunn said.

“I don’t think it affects our plans in a material way. We see a lot of benefit from One Central to all of the civic and cultural assets on the lakefront,” he said.

Of course he had to say that, but some of the cache would be loss if a major NFL franchise isn't in close proximity.