Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ch'ava Says Farewell

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Readers who are fans of good coffee and delicious sandwiches will be sad to hear that today is the last day for Ch'ava Cafe at 4656 N Clark.  We'd heard the news earlier this week, but were waiting for confirmation, and today it came:

On its Facebook page, Ch'ava writes:

"Our Final Service. I have been reluctant to write this post, partly because this isn't the sort of attention that we seek and partly because it is difficult for us to say goodbye. For a little over five years we have had the privilege of serving our community coffee and food, that we know very well to be luxuries. We did not cure cancer here. We did not change the world.

What we did was simple, really. We tried to create a product that was perfect and we failed every day. Baristas, chefs and anyone who chooses to believe that what they do is a craft, are an odd, difficult bunch. We pursue something that cannot be caught, yet we pursue nonetheless. Somehow, knowing this fate does little to help us accept it. So, we obsess over the smallest details. We practice and read and experiment. We are offended at how someone treats 2 oz of liquid. The absurdity is not lost on us. However, we have always believed that there must be place for people like this. For us, dedication and passion do not require gravity or scope. The pursuit is enough.

We would like to thank our staff. The staff is always the measure of a business and ours are second to none. The training and skill that has to be acquired to work here would astonish many. Nobody here stayed for money. Few in the service industry could make that boast. They have shaped our lives immeasurably.

We would like to thank our customers and our regulars. Thank you for buying into our bizarre little philosophy, a few minutes at a time. The world is place controlled and driven by the approval of the public. To have supported a shop like ours is to support the idea that some things are more important than convenience; that behind marketing and pretty facades the core must be true. Thank you for knowing that behind our gruff exterior and temperamental nature, that we believe that serving you the best product possible was the highest form of service. Please continue to support those kinds of shops.

Lastly, we would like to thank Chicago's craft coffee community. We have seen so many shops doing great things over these last few years. In particular, Intelligentsia, Kilogram Tea, Wormhole, George Howell,Quasar Coffee Roasters, City Grounds, Metropolis, Tim Wendelboe, Red Blossom Tea, Caffe Streets, Ellipses, Gaslight, Passion House Coffee Roasters, The Brothers K, ipsento, Counter Culture, Sol Cafe and anyone we may have failed to mention. Also, the great chefs that we have had the pleasure of working with Mindy Segal, Jason Hammel, Jason Vincent, Jonothan Sawyer and their teams.

Today we are happy to be serving 3 of our favorite roasters. Intelligentsia, whom we have believed for so long to be the finest roasters and sourcers of coffee in the world. Quasar Coffee Roasters, who we believe to be the most exciting new roaster in Chicago and Halfwit Coffee Roasters, who we believe to hold the highest standards of integrity in Chicago. We hope to serve you one last time."

Friday, January 30, 2015

Inside Lawrence House

sign listing some of the amenities from the days when Lawrence House was a first-class residential hotel

Last summer, one of Uptown Update's frequent contributors took a tour of Lawrence House before the current renovations and construction began. This is his report:

"It was eerie.  A large building nearly empty.  Not unlike entering the Uptown Theater these days.  A few voices echo through hallways that were once filled with people.  The glorious bones of a decaying place. Walls bulging with water trapped behind plaster.  The overpowering smells of dampness and mustiness.  Workers with plastic tied around their feet so bedbugs would stay out of their shoes.  Incredible reminders that this was once a ritzy residential hotel. Overwhelmed by the wretched conditions.

I absent-mindedly leaned against the wall of the elevator, and three people jumped and told me to not do that because of the bugs.  They told me to go right to the basement when I got home and put all my clothes in the dryer and to run it a full cycle at the highest heat setting so I didn't bring bedbugs into my apartment.

Realizing that elderly, sick, and impoverished people paid up to $700 a month to live in those conditions is nauseating."

Here is Lawrence House just days before restoration began.

the most haunting photo I took. An empty wheelchair sits on its side
in a burned out apartment.  [UU Note: Lawrence House experienced many fires
while the Menetti family owned it. It was discovered to have no working fire alarms
and no life safety plan
in place in 2010, as well as multiple serious building violations]

the interior of the long-closed convenience store/snack shop off the lobby

the scuffed marble mosaic floors off the lobby

the brass lobby letterbox

the entrance into one of the tenant rooms. Residents were mostly not allowed
to bring furniture to their new places because landlords didn't want bedbugs

fifth floor hallway

water damage in one of the tenant apartments

top floor hallway

lighting fixure on the wall of the owner's suite on the top floor

the once-time owner's suite on the top floor
close-up of the building's top floor decorations

view from the top floor

view from the top floor

view from the top floor
fifth floor hallway wall

ceiling of the fifth floor hallway

one of the apartments on the fifth floor

water damage in one of the hallways

the kitchen sink in one of the apartments

the long-abandoned basement swimming pool with its custom wood cover

intricate tile throughout the pool room

don't break the pool rules

hanging water-logged plaster from the ceiling

To see more of the Lawrence House and the recent ongoing renovations, check out architent Moss Design's photos.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Art Show Opening Reception Saturday Evening

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“the good, the true, the beautiful” is a group show exploring how moving images are translated into the physical world. How does a 4-D object become 3-Dimensional? By working with tropes and common ideas in videos (both as an art form and as a common social commodity), the show places audience members into a live marathon of reruns, pilots, matinĂ©es, and screenings.

Episodic in nature, the the installments the show may repeat, happen concurrently, occur just once, or occur durationally. Ultimately, these works aim to get at things that are good, true, beautiful,  and may succeed or fail along the way. After all, the chapters shown in the show are only ideas, or incantations to meaning.

Uptown Arts Center is located in Preston Bradley Center on the 4th Floor, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.

Help Restock School Supplies For 46th Ward Schools

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Friends of the 46th Ward Schools has officially kicked off our 100th Day of School Re-Supply Drive. This drive aims to restock a few of the supplies that start to dwindle midway through the school year. Supplies can be purchased on-line at Additional information, including supply lists and more ways to help, can be obtained on our website (

Rique's Sets The Date

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Way back in May, we told you it would be happening, and Chef Enrique Cortes just announced that the long-anticipated reopening of Rique's Cocina Mexicana, back at its original location (5004 N Sheridan), will take place on Friday, February 6th, at 5pm.

You can make reservations now at 773-728-6200 or by emailing  Check out the menu here.  Chef Rique says, "Thank you all for your support and patience. Stay warm!!- and hope to see you all, soon!!!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

About Last Weekend...

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Today the police released the results of the DUI Strike Force being in the 19th District (the area between Lawrence and Fullerton east of the river).  They were in various locations around the district, so we're not sure if any of these results are from Uptown, but these are the citations they issued between 8pm Saturday and 3am Sunday:

Driving Under the Influence   4
Unsafe Vehicle Violations 32
Insurance Violations 10
Speeding Violations 10
Driver's License Violations   5
Traffic Violations (Other) 28
Total Citations 89
Other Arrests   1 - Warrant
Vehicles Towed   6

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Construction Begins On Lawrence House

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Close-up of some of the detail of 1020 W. Lawrence (former Lawrence House)
Moss, the architects behind the renovation of FLATS No. 1020, has an inside look at what is going into the rehab of this historic building, which is an important piece of the puzzle to the Uptown Entertainment District. The article has some great photos of the building's exterior and interior detail as well as a look at the amazing pool that has sat unused for decades. Check it out here

Learn About Burglaries, From Burglars

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Family Fun Night At The Shift, This Friday

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Helping Incarcerated Women By Donating Travel-Size Toiletries

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer is collecting travel-size toiletries such as shampoo, soap, and lotion for women in prison. Someone from her office will be picking up these items at the 46th, 47th and 48th Ward Offices on Friday, January 30th.

There are other drop-off spots if you have items to donate.

Click to enlarge

If you have donations, but can't make it in time for this drive, Sarah's Circle, at 4838 North Sheridan, is always in need of similar items for its residents.  See here for more details.

Last Day To Register To Vote

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If you have a strong opinion about who'll be your next mayor, or who'll be your next alderman, you'll want your vote to count. Today's the last day to register for the city election.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rique's Looking for "Rock Stars"

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If you've got restaurant experience, either front of house or back of house, and you're a "rock star," Rique's is looking for you!

In a notice on its Facebook page, Rique's Cocina Mexicana says it's holding an open call for personnel for its eagerly anticipated soon-to-open restaurant on Tuesday and Wednesday between 9am and 2pm.

Bring your resume with you, or email it to

Rique's is located at 5004 North Sheridan, at Argyle.  Its website is

Lunar New Year Parade on Saturday, February 21st

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2015 is the beginning of the Year of the Goat, and also of the Green Wooden Sheep, on the lunar calendar.  One of the highlights of living in Uptown is the Argyle business community's parade celebrating the Lunar New Year.  This year it will take place on Saturday, February 21st.

No details are available about the route yet, but in past years it's kicked off from the Hip Sing Association's location at 1121 West Argyle.  There are dancing dragons, a couple floats, strings of firecrackers, and usually some neighborhood festivities scheduled around the parade as well.

We'll keep you posted as we learn more, but mark Saturday, February 21, on your calendar.  

House Hunters Renovation Looking For Soon-To-Be-Homeowners In Chicago

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HGTV junkies know the name Pie Town Productions, which pops up at the end of every episode of House Hunters. Now there's a spinoff, House Hunters Renovation, and they're specifically looking for people in the Chicago area to appear on it.
"House Hunters Renovation, the hour-long spinoff of House Hunters, is casting! HOUSE HUNTERS RENOVATION is an hour-long series showing the exciting and emotional experience of finding and purchasing a new home, followed by the renovation of your house! The first half of an episode is dedicated to your house hunting journey, while the second half will follow the renovation process of your new home."
Click here for more information about how to apply to be on the show.

Adult Dodgeball Tourney Next Saturday At Chase Park

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You can find more details about registering for the event at the Chase Park Advisory Council website.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

La Ciudad Celebrates Five Years With A Party

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Hard to believe it's been more than five years since we first ate at La Ciudad and fell in love with it.  Now they'll be celebrating with a party on Friday, January 30th.  La Ciudad is located at 4515 North Sheridan.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bipolar Man, 48, Missing From Uptown Home For A Week

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Please be on the lookout for Dionysus Ames, age 48, who is missing from the Thresholds assisted living facility on the 1000 block of Lawrence.

Mr. Ames is bipolar, but is not restricted from leaving the facility.  He was seen going outside on Sunday, January 18th, at 9am, when he left his home, and that's the last time anyone saw him.

Mr. Ames is 6 feet tall, and weighs approximately 150 pounds.  He is African-American with a medium complexion, and has black hair and brown eyes.

If you see him, please call 9-1-1 or call the CPD's Area North Special Victims Unit at 312-744-8261.

UU Note:  We noticed this from the suburban Herald-News on 1/21/2015.  "Dionysus W. Ames, 48, of the 1000 block of West Lawrence Avenue in Chicago, was arrested by Bolingbrook police Sunday on charges of forgery and unauthorized possession of blank prescription forms."  We called the SVU number listed, and the officer we spoke to said he would research it.

Update:  A reader sent us a link to the Will County Circuit Court website, and Mr. Ames was and may still be in the custody of the Will County Sheriff.  At least he was as of January 21st.  His bond was set at $30,000, and he needs to come up with 10% of that to be released.  We hope that the Chicago PD Special Victims Unit, Thresholds, and Will County have gotten together and that Mr. Ames is no longer considered missing.

Get A Haircut, Help Someone Who's Homeless

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More information is here.  Uptown's Hair Cuttery is located at 4434 North Broadway, and can be reached at 773-293-4633.  Its hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-9pm; Saturday, 9am-8pm; and Sunday, 9am-5pm.

Plot Twist: Lionel Has Disappeared (Update: In Good Hands)

Update:  Lionel was taken by friendly forces, known to his owner, who are planning to see if he can be repaired. She was notified by text this morning.

His stylist has created a Facebook page of some of Lionel's many costumes over the years:  Lionel.


The saga of Lionel the Stylishly Dressed Lion just keeps going.  And now there's a disturbing twist.

To recap, earlier this week Lionel was, in the words of his stylist, "mugged." She was planning to assess the damage this weekend to see if he could be repaired. Many readers expressed their affection for Lionel and his stylish and frequent costume changes on UU's Facebook page and in the comments. He's been stylin' at the corner of Montrose and Dayton since 1998.

Late Friday night his owner wrote us that "I came home tonight to find him completely missing. I am flummoxed to say the least (and that’s not a word I say often.) Just the logistics involved leave me baffled."

Where's Lionel?  Did someone take him with the intention of fixing him?  Was it foul play?

We don't know.

We have told his owner that many offers have come in from Lionel's fans to donate money to pay for his repair, or to purchase Lionel 2.0.  If she chooses to go that route, we'll be happy to help publicize the fundraising.

So, if you're a good person who took Lionel and plans to repair him, please let his owner know he's in good hands.

If you're a bad person who stole him before he could even be assessed for damages, well, you just stink.

Friday, January 23, 2015

BPN Superbowl Party and Fundraiser

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The Buena Park Neighbors Association announced its Superbowl Party on Sunday, February 1st, 5pm, at the Holiday Club, 4000 N Sheridan.

The purchase of  a $25 wristband includes: bottomless Pabst Blue Ribbon, Goose Island Green Line and wings. Wristband sales begin at 5pm and are valid until 8:30pm.

All proceeds benefit Buena Park Neighbors.

Buena Park Neighbors is a 46th Ward neighborhood association of more than 200 residents, businesses and not-for-profit organizations and a nationally registered Buena Park Historic District. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone in Buena Park.

League of Women Voters To Sponsor 46th Ward Candidate Debate


From an email:
"Dear 46th Ward Residents:

The League of Women Voters of Chicago is  sponsoring a candidate forum for the 46th Ward aldermen candidates.  The Forum will be held on Sunday, February 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm.  The location is The People's Church at 941 W. Lawrence.

Please notify your members of this event.

Thank you,

The League of Women Voters of Chicago"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DUI Strike Force in 19th District This Weekend

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If you're out and on the road this weekend, be aware that the police DUI Strike Force will be in the 19th District between 7pm Saturday and 3am Sunday.  As the statement says,
"The purpose of this program is to saturate a pre-designated area with roving police officers that continually monitor vehicular traffic for signs of impaired driving. Patrols also place emphasis on speed, alcohol-related and safety belt violations. Police vehicles equipped for speed detection are deployed to apprehend speeding violators.

In addition, the Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Mobile Unit may also be deployed to allow officers to expedite the process of charging a person with Driving under the Influence (DUI) prior to transporting an alleged into the nearest lockup for bonding."
Last week in the Jefferson District, they gave out 111 citations in an eight-hour period, for violations ranging from unsafe vehicles to lack of insurance.

The 19th District is between Lawrence and Fullerton, east of the river.

Lionel The Lion Got Mugged


Noooo!  Lionel the stone lion, who changes costumes several times each season and is much beloved by the Uptown community, was found Tuesday evening knocked off his pedestal and broken. His owners and dressers are reaching out to see if anyone saw his attackers.

Lionel a few days ago,
in happier times
Lionel has been showing off his fancy duds and brightening days at the corner of Montrose and Dayton since 1998, quite a run (not to mention a labor of love by his owners). Uptown Update has featured him many times; some of those posts can be seen here.

Can Lionel recover?  We don't know.  We've reached out to his owners to find out.  We would sure hate to lose his presence because he's something that always brings a smile and something that makes Uptown feel a little bit homier and more fun.

Please help if you have any information.  You can either post here in the comments or send us an email at and we'll pass it along to his people.

Update:  About Lionel's future.  Many people have offered their assistance, financial and otherwise.  His owner says, " I won't have a chance to truly assess the damage and my options until this weekend but please convey for me how thankful I am for the kind words. I am very grateful that an outlet for my goofy-ness brings a smile to others. The fact that complete strangers take the time to comment is very much appreciated."

Valentine's Day Specials At Spoil Me Salon & Spa

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Spoil Me Salon and Spa is located at 4668 North Broadway.  Visit their Facebook page here.