Chicago Restaurant Groups Helping Those in Need – Day 9

(Edward Lee and Paul Kahan are cooking for industry colleagues during the quarantine)

It only took about a week, but several Chicago restaurant groups have begun organizing major ways to help their industry colleagues get through the coronavirus struggle the only way they know how: feeding people.

Chef Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, The LEE Initiative) and Chef Paul Kahan (One Off Hospitality) have teamed up to begin offering meals and groceries to those in need. Starting today, Big Star Wicker Park becomes a headquarters for restaurant workers relief. With help from Maker’s Mark, the One Off team will prepare and pack hundreds (at least 250) to-go dinners and grocery bags every night that will be offered to recently unemployed restaurant workers.

It’s first-come, first-serve and they’ll be implementing strict social distancing. The program will be offered throughout the quarantine period or as long as supplies last; seven nights a week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Everyone must show ID and identifying paperwork to prove recent employment at a restaurant (paystub is fine).

They’ll also accept donations at and will accept goods or products via Amazon. Those can be sent to Big Star Wicker Park, 1531 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622.

Meanwhile, the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group is offering 400 free meals a day for industry workers starting tomorrow, the 25th. No-contact pickups of meals will be available from 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays at The Fifty/50 Bar, 2047 W. Division St. More info about the week’s menu here.

Here is some other news, including a series of virtual cooking classes for kids:

The Kids’ Table is now offering a series of virtual cooking classes next week, with a more regular one to follow later. Classes are free, but they have a PayPal set up and are asking for voluntary donations to support them. This sounds like a great way to keep the kids occupied for a bit.

El Che Steakhouse & Bar launches a butcher shop pop-up this Thursday and Friday only.

Cocktail kits (lord knows I’m giving my new bar a workout) are available at Bar Biscay, Old Pueblo Cantina and Gemini.



Call your state reps, and demand they support independent restaurants. #toosmalltofail

Tons of local restaurants are running GoFundMes or fundraisers for their staffs, including Sepia and Boka Group.

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.



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

Block Club has a link to help you get unemployment benefits, rent relief, etc. if you’re out of work as a result of Covid-19.

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 – SIGN THIS PETITION for the “Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act”

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