Chicago Area Food Businesses Improvising, Adapting – Day 2

(Vajra one of dozens of restaurants offering pickup and delivery)

It’s been a crazy 24 hours. Between a tense Presidential news conference and a barrage of emails from local chefs and restaurant owners, I’m both optimistic and severely concerned about the future of our food scene. It’s like a 10 mile-wide meteor has hit the heart of the food community, now that every dining room in town is closed. One successful chef wrote to me, saying he’s trying to figure out if he’ll even have a livelihood, while he struggles to help those who’ve worked for him for so long, because they’ll be destitute by week’s end. Another asked me for legal help (see RESOURCES below). A caterer friend of mine has had to let go 3/4 of her staff, some of whom have been with her for more than 20 years. Vanille has already permanently closed its Hyde Park location and temporarily closed the French Market spot, but Lincoln Park is still open. It’s bleak, and unless the government steps in immediately, it’s going to get a lot worse.

City leaders have always touted our supremacy as a food town. Rahm made it part of his pitch every chance he got, especially while on the red carpet at the Beard Awards every May (now postponed until summer, by the way). But if the Mayor and the Governor don’t tackle this issue immediately, you’re going to be celebrating your special occasions in a drive-thru lane rather than at a table lit by candlelight. Speaking of fine-dining, restaurants like Oriole cannot adapt it’s fine-dining tasting menu to delivery or takeout, so they’ve been texting employees and friends to come take perishable food. Others in the industry have been cooking or buying groceries for others in need as many people in hospitality live check to check. It’s heartwarming to hear these stories, but we all need to do more. Heartwarming doesn’t pay the bills.

As I’ve said from the start of this, keep sending me your specials and updates with any news I can share. If you’re a pizzeria (Ranalli’s, for example), we’ll just assume it’s delivery and carryout as usual. You can reach me here, steve@stevedolinsky.com or DM me on Instagram. Support each other, be kind to each other and don’t be a hero – keep social distancing, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Buy gift cards and tip big.

RESTAURANT, FOOD STORE UPDATES

(AS OF 1 PM CST, 3/17/20):

Wow Bao is offering 50% discount to Chicago restaurant employees for carryout and pickup until things get back to normal (must show proof of employment in Feb/March).

Mott St. offering meal kits for delivery or carryout, including boat noodles, steamed dumplings and whole fish to bake at home.

Haire’s Gulf Shrimp has curbside service and delivery until March 30th.

Urban Belly in Wicker Park is offering delivery and carryout, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily

Gene & Georgetti has temporarily closed Rosemont location, but downtown they have phone-in pantry ordering, including vacuum-sealed USDA Prime steaks, pasta sauces & fresh fish. Also boxed lunches.

Bar Biscay in West Town is offering daily family-style meals for pickup and delivery; each order serves two and includes an app, salad, dessert and entree option of chicken, beef or veggie.

Coda di Volpe in Lakeview is offering curbside pickup from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Fillini Chicago in the Aqua building is offering carryout and delivery from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Gemini in Lincoln Park is offering curbside pickup from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Old Pueblo Cantina in Lincoln Park is offering curbside pickup and delivery from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Stan’s Donuts & Coffee has online ordering for all 12 locations and if you buy a $25 gift card, you get an extra $5 free.

Temporis in West Town is bringing Michelin-level food to your home. “Dinner for Two” starts 3/18; prix fixe packages include baby kale salad, short ribs & cheddar grits and brownies for $70. Add wine for $30.

The Smith in River North is offering pickup and delivery from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Call restaurant directly for pickups. They have a “Family Meal” option that feeds two to three people for $35.

10Q Chicken in Evanston is offering delivery and takeout through March 30.

AS OF 9 AM CST 3/17:

Dangela’s Dumplings in Libertyville moves to carryout and 3rd party delivery ’til end of March, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The Spice House has reconfigured its stores to promote social distancing. Come with your list, they’ll gather what you need for you.

River Valley Farmer’s Table is helping local farmers who’ve lost clients by preparing farm-to-table frozen meals, grab & go and pickup orders.

Brown Bag Seafood is keeping five of its seven stores open; offering free delivery on all online orders through March, curbside pick-up option for online/call-in orders, and offering a “Brown Bag Care Package” – a family meal-sized assortment of their favorite items. 100% of sales of this item over next two weeks will be paid out in tips to their crew.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken is open for delivery and curbside pickup, and can handle large orders.

Claremont Diner is helping neighbors in Tri-Taylor ‘hood by clearing out their fridge: after 6 p.m. tomorrow, 3/18, order a prix fixe dinner (claremontdiner.com or 312-526-3425) for just $15; you can pick up curbside.

El Carrito Tacos has curbside pickup and running delivery themselves.

Maple & Ash has pickup available starting at 3 p.m. As a sign of appreciation, you’ll get a gift card in the amount of whatever you spend.

Bonta Lincolnshire has curbside pickup, delivery and catering available for larger groups.

High Dive Chicago has staff doing delivery plus curbside and carryout.

Vajra Nepalese/Indian offering curbside pickup and delivery.

Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafter is open for takeout.

Original Shrimp House in Palos Park has carryout and curbside pickup for soups, shrimp, lobster rolls, etc.

The Angry Crab – on Milwaukee Ave. and Lincoln Ave. – has carryout available for a seafood feast.

Saigon Sisters offering free delivery and open for pickup at Chicago French Market.

Lucila’s Alfajores offering 15% off all online orders for gift boxes. Use code PUREJOY15.

Nuevo León in Little Village (despite saying it’s closed on Yelp) has delivery and curbside pickup.

 

WAYS TO HELP

Dining At a Distance (constantly updated list of local restaurants with delivery, carryout)

Buy a Dining Bond – just like a savings bond. Essentially a gift certificate that is sold at 25% less than face value, but redeemable for face value when dining at the restaurant. (for example, a $100 bond is purchased for $75, but is worth $100 when you dine at the restaurant later)

Chicago Hospitality United is donating 100% of proceeds from merch sales to hourly workers.

 

RESOURCES

Bartenders Assistance & Relief – don’t need to be a member to apply for help, but must prove you’re a bartender who has been affected

Insurance Coverage for COVID-19 Injuries & Losses (courtesy Taft Law)

Commercial Real Estate Legal Issues Related to COVID-19 (courtesy Taft Law)

Illinois Restaurant Assoc. – latest updates for the industry

2 Comments

  1. Shoegal

    March 17, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Pretty cool ice cream ice cream is offering $50 gift cards for $40. 100% of $$ goes to the staff. They also do curbside

    Maple & ash you can buy a classic meal for pick up and get a dollar for dollar gift card for what you spent in pick up

    Bolivar + lincoln doing pick up and delivery.

  2. Luisa Castellanos

    March 17, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Science Retail is offering free remote tech support to restaurants. We’re helping setting up online ordering, gift cards/e-gift cards, GoFundMe pages, updating menus, or helping routeHR questions. Here’s more info: https://www.scienceretail.com/free-consultation

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