Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Portions of Wilson, Leland Closed to Vehicular Traffic For CTA Construction Work

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As the CTA construction crews begin Phase 3 of the Wilson Station overhaul, there are some street closures in effect. This phase primarily involves tearing down and rebuilding Track 3 (northbound Red Line) and building a new shared passenger platform.
  • Leland will be closed to vehicular traffic at Broadway now through Saturday, October 8th, as workers perform "north abutment activities." Pedestrians will still have access to the intersection.
  • Wilson will be closed to vehicular traffic between Broadway and Clifton now through Wednesday, October 5th while demo is performed. Pedestrians will still have access to the area.

    The #78 bus will be rerouted. CTA says, "Eastbound buses will operate via Clark, Lawrence, and Broadway, then resume their normal route on Wilson. Westbound buses will operate via Broadway, Lawrence, and Clark to Wilson, then continue their normal route on Clark."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Books on the Chopping Block: A Banned Books Week Read-Out

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Where Performance Meets Freedom! Celebrate the 30th year of Banned Books Week by joining free thinkers at the Bezazian Branch Library for this readers theater performance by City Lit Theater.

Hear live excerpts from the ten most frequently challenged books in America during 2015, as compiled by the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom.

It's free (duh), and takes place at the Bezazian Branch Library, Magnolia and Ainslie, on Wednesday, September 28, 6pm-7pm.

Stewart School "Tent City" Dismantled, Property Fenced Off

The Stewart School lawn and campus in October 2015
According to readers and DNAinfo, the homeless encampment that appeared this spring on the front lawn of the former Stewart School (4525 North Kenmore) is in the process of being dismantled today. DFSS staff, police, and city workers were on site as the people who had been staying there were told to take down their tents and leave with their belongings.

DNAinfo says, "city workers were sent Monday morning to fence off the property with the aid of police."

From a reader, who says, "This was the view @ 8:00 AM this morning, I counted 14 tents in total. Normally there were usually about 7 - 9 tents, and I thought 14 was an "unusual" number." (click all photos to enlarge)
"A Univision crew is filming, their truck is at right edge of photo...this is as of noon on Monday, 9/27"
As of 12:10pm, "contrast this with the first picture above, you can see the tents are now cleared."

According to DNAinfo, "A spokesman for the Department of Family and Support Services said residents were warned months in advance and again on Friday. Anything left behind at the school will be thrown in the trash, the spokesman said."

According to the Bryant Agreement, which specifies the rights of the homeless to their possessions kept on public land, only "portable items" may be maintained. The Agreement, which was made between Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the City, and signed by both, specifies that Lower Wacker Drive and the Wilson Viaduct are the only public lands on which the homeless may congregate. It also spells out the kinds of items that are allowed and prohibited, the cleaning schedule for those areas, and what kind of notice must be given prior to cleaning.

After being closed in 2013, the former Stewart School was sold in January to Morningside USA for redevelopment.

The lawn on which the tents were erected was formerly Kenmore Avenue until it was filled in to create a campus park in 2008.

Eagles Building Starbucks To Close October 5th

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Meanwhile, a block south of Uptown:

Another indication that the gut rehab of the Eagles Building at Broadway and West Sheridan, as well as most of the 3800 block of Broadway, is really happening. Reader Jason Thompson sent a photo of the sign he saw posted in the window of the corner Starbucks, saying that October 5th will be the last day at that location.

Rumor has it that this Starbucks will be opening elsewhere in the neighborhood. It's possible. When the Starbucks across from Wrigley Field on Addison closed due to demolition, it reopened a couple months later, a half block away in the old Hi Tops storefront on Sheffield.

In the meantime, caffeine seekers may have to make do at the Dunkin' Donuts, located a half block north on Broadway.

New Temporary Entrances To Wilson Red Line Station Go Into Use Today

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A reminder for passengers who use the Wilson station to access the Red Line:

Monday begins Phase 3 of the project, which should last about six months. The immediate changes you will see:
  • The main entrance to the station (Gerber Building) at 4620 Broadway is closed.
  • The auxiliary entrance on the south side of Wilson has closed.
  • The east platform is closed and is being dismantled.
  • The new west platform will be the only platform in use.
  • Riders can access the platform via
  • a temporary main entrance on the south side of the street (staffed, with fare vending machines), or
  • the temporary auxiliary entrance on the north side of the street (unstaffed; farecard required for entry).
CTA says this phase of the construction will accomplish the following:
"Existing Wilson Ave. and Gerber entrances closed; demolition and reconstruction of Track #3 (NB Red); and construction of new northbound shared platform."

"This newer platform offers more shelter from elements and is longer and wider than the old platform. The old platform will be closed permanently so a second new platform can be built. [...]

This phase of work requires continued three-track operations in which southbound Red and Purple Line Express trains share a single track between the Wilson station and the junction north of the Belmont station."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Attempted Hold-Up Of American Metro Bank On Friday

Yesterday afternoon a reader notified us that there was a heavy police presence inside American Metro Bank, at Broadway and Ainslie. We didn't know what had happened, but the FBI has filled in the blanks.

There was an attempted hold-up of the bank, located at 4878 North Broadway, around 12:30pm. No one was hurt, and no weapon was shown. The wannabe robber got away, and no money was taken.

He is described by the FBI as a "black male, light complexion, medium build, mid 40's to 50, 5'9 to 6'1. Goatee."

If you have any information, or recognize the man, please contact the FBI at 312-421-6700. There is a reward offered.

Carol's Pub Closes (At Least For Now) - One Of Uptown's Last Appalachian-Era Hangouts

It's all very mysterious. The famous country music dive bar, Carol's Pub, has closed its doors at Clark and Leland, and its future is unclear. Even the person who runs its Facebook page seems to be in the dark about what's going on.

It was open Labor Day weekend, but after that things get murky. On September 9, it posted on its Facebook page:
Due to circumstances beyond our control, Carols's Pub will be closed this weekend. Sorry for the inconvenience. We will reopen next week. Stay tuned.....
On September 16, it posted:
For all of you who have been asking.....Carol's Pub is closed again this weekend . Hopefully we'll be back up and running next week. Thanks to all for your continued support! Please share with your friends.
And yesterday it only got worse:
Carol's Pub will remain closed until further notice. Thanks again for your continued support. Please share this post with your friends.
In response to questions, the person in charge of the Facebook page (possibly a member of the house band, Diamondback) says, "Carol is really the only one who knows what's going on." That would be Carol Harris, who took over the place in 1993, after her husband Ted Harris passed away. He took ownership of Carol's, then known as Pam's Playhouse, in 1973.

It's not a hopeful situation, especially since the phone number to the bar is now disconnected and its website appears to be down as well.

If anyone has any information about whether or not Carol's will reopen, please share it in the comments.

Update: According to Eater Chicago, the state has revoked Carol's liquor license.

Sneak Peek: Upcoming Outdoor Space At Lawrence House

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Colorful loungers and new sod fill the outdoor space on the north side of Lawrence House
If you peer over the new fence along Kenmore just north of Lawrence you'll be in for a surprise. The upcoming outdoor space at Lawrence House is nearing completion. At least 8 cozy, colorful loungers are setup on freshly laid sod, complete with hanging umbrellas. In the background, a fire pit is barely visible amongst chairs and tables that will become a sort of outdoor beer garden once the lounge/bar inside the lobby of Lawrence House is open.
Looks like this will be a nice place to relax with a good book or cocktail, or even a coffee from Heritage Outpost. We are hopeful we might get a chance to try it out before the snow flies!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Argyle Goes Green, Paid Parking Resumes Saturday

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Workers were busy today installing lots of trees along the new Argyle streetscape, including side streets. A great improvement!

If you park on Argyle, Ald. Osterman says in his weekly newsletter that "Parking meter boxes have been installed. Paid parking and enforcement begins Saturday morning." Finishing touches include signs and the "Argyle Identifier" at the crosswalk at Broadway, still to come.

"Reza's House" On Winona Demolished


We're sorry to see that the century-old mansion at 1468-1472 West Winona has been demolished. Usually known as the "Reza's house" (since it was previously owned by the family of Reza Toulabi, the restaurateur), it sold last May.

Neighbors and Preservation Chicago were working with the 47th Ward office to try to save this 6-bedroom, 4800sf home, but according to this photo that reader SW sent in today, their efforts were in vain. It was orange-rated by the city, which meant that it "possessed some architectural feature or historical association that made it potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community."

The real estate listing mentions that it was in need of a complete rehab, but the photos in the real estate listing are spectacular. Check them out here.

According to the WFCW Block Club's Facebook page, "Jeff Parise who has the contract on the building shared that his plan is to demolish the buildings which he says are in poor condition and build a new 3.5 story 9-unit condo building with 9 parking spaces."

Positive Loitering Tonight At 6PM - New Location Wilson/Broadway

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From Uptown Chicago Commission:

"Positive Loitering will take place this evening between 6PM and 7PM. Our new location is the corner of Wilson and Broadway (northeast corner) near City Sports.

Stop by for a few minutes or stay for the full hour. Bring a friend, bring a new neighbor, stop by on a dog walk, just come out! We have dog treats for your furry friends.

As always, the 19th District Police are aware of our presence and encourage participation."

Clarendon Park Centennial Party On October 1st

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There will be much to enjoy:
  • Chicago Park District historian and preservationist Julia Bachrach will speak at 12:30pm about the history of Clarendon Park, "Healthy Recreation for the People."
  • At 1:30pm, a community photo will be taken to commemorate 100 years of Uptowners enjoying the pleasures Clarendon Park offers.
  • There will be live music beginning at 2pm.
  • Refreshments and activities for the kids will be readily available.
  • Don't miss a chance to see the miniature village created by the Clarendon Garfield Model Railroad Club, with 1400 feet of track and a route that takes trains 25 minutes to circle.
  • For more history on Clarendon Park, there's a fun article in DNAinfo that explores its first hundred years.
  • Here's to the next 100 years!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Long-Vacant Lots On Sheridan To Be Developed

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Quest Realty: Proposal for 4420-44 N. Sheridan
The site today
The same site in 1936 (CDOT photo)
The last time buildings stood in the long-vacant lots at Sheridan & Agatite was the early 1970s. Nixon was president. Bob Rehak had just started photographing Uptown as it entered a rough period of decline.

That all could change if Quest Realty is granted a zoning change for the parcels at 4420-4444 N. Sheridan. They propose building a 4-story, 33-unit building with retail on the ground floor that would fill the entire lot.

From Ald. Cappleman's website:

"The developer, Quest Realty Group (http://www.questchicago.com/development.html), is proposing a new development that encompasses three lots, two of which are vacant. Currently, one parcel of the three is zoned B3-3 and two are zoned RT-4. The developer is requesting a change in the zoning for two of the parcels so that all parcels are consistent with a B3-3 zoning designation."

Clarendon Park Neighbors will be reviewing the plans and their suggestions/vote will be passed along to Alderman Cappleman. The total cost of the project is under the threshold required to go before the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee. 

We are sure that neighbors around this lot will be ecstatic to see this lot developed. Especially those directly to the south and across the street!

Election Day Is Coming; Are You Registered?

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This campaign season has gone on forever, it seems, but you'll be able to start voting one week from today. Early voting begins on September 29th in the Loop at the Board of Elections, 69 West Washington. Any registered voter in the city can vote at that location. People can register to vote there as well. Neighborhood early voting locations will open on October 24th.

EZRA Multi-Service Center at 909 West Wilson will host a National Voter Registration Day event on Tuesday, September 29th from 12:30pm- 3pm. "Voterpalooza" will feature food, a photo booth, and a speaker from the League of Women Voters. They will be registering people to vote, and registered voters can take a pledge to vote in the November election.

If you're not sure if you're registered, you can check here to verify your registration and your polling place.

Ald. Osterman To Hold Transit TIF Meeting on Monday

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From Ald. Osterman via email:

"Dear Neighbor:

Please join me on Monday, September 26, 6:00 pm at the Broadway Armory for a community meeting regarding the proposed Transit TIF.

Current view of Bryn Mawr Station
The proposed Transit TIF (Tax Increment Financing) would generate up to $622M over the course of 35 years, providing the local funding match needed to take advantage of a $1.1B Federal transit grant. This funding will support Phase One of the CTA's Red and Purple Modernization (RPM) project, which includes new stations at Bryn Mawr, Berwyn, Argyle, and Lawrence, as well as embankments. The RPM Phase One TIF is an economic development tool to fund public transit improvements, and the RPM Phase One Transit TIF would support the RPM project only. This proposed TIF would not impact Chicago Public Schools funding and would not impact property tax assessments.

Rendering of future Bryn Mawr Station
The RPM project is an important and necessary development in our community. Each weekday over 22,000 residents use these and the other stations in our ward to access the Red Line. The embankment and viaducts that make up this section of the Red Line are 100 years old, significantly deteriorated, and difficult to maintain. Additionally, none of these stations are currently ADA accessible and they will need to be fully reconstructed to accommodate this.

Representatives from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Department of Planning and Development will be on hand at Monday's meeting to provide details about the proposed TIF and to answer questions. I hope to see you there.

Northbound Red Line Trains To Bypass Wilson, Lawrence & Argyle This Weekend

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Starting Friday night at 9pm, and until 5am on Monday, northbound Red Line trains will not stop at the Wilson, Lawrence, and Argyle stops. This is necessary for the CTA to do track maintenance.

The southbound trains will run as usual.

CTA says:

"Howard-bound trains will not stop at Wilson, Lawrence, and Argyle stations.
  • For service to these stations, take a Howard-bound train to Berwyn and transfer to a 95th-bound train.
  • For service from these stations, take a 95th-bound train to Sheridan and transfer to a Howard-bound train."

Public Meeting On Lake Shore Drive Motorcycle Noise, Thursday, September 29

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From Ald. Cappleman's email newsletter:

"Over the years, I have received many complaints about noise from motorcyclists who race up and down N. Lake Shore Drive. Every alderman along Lake Michigan hears the same types of complaints, and it's no wonder.... the noise is disturbing, especially when it's late at night.

I'm hosting a meeting with the 19th District Police and interested residents to discuss this longstanding issue, along with ideas and challenges involved with addressing this.

When: Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6:30pm
Where: 19th Police District Station at 850 W. Addison

Your feedback is needed to assist us with improving the quality of life for all Chicagoans. I hope many of you can make it to this very important meeting."

Haiti's First Female Olympic Swimmer To Appear At HAMOC On September 30th

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Missing Person, Nicholas Spino, Age 15

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Please keep an eye out for 15-year-old Nicholas Spino, who was last seen on Wednesday morning running west on Lawrence from Clarendon. He was in a car on the 4700 block of Clarendon when something caused him to leave the car and take off running. He has not been seen since. His home is in the Edgebrook area.

He is 5'8" and weighs approximately 210 lbs, and has dark blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing red basketball shorts and grey Adidas high-tops.

If you have any information about his whereabouts, please call 911 or call the Chicago Police Area North SVU at 312-744-8266.

Got Paper? Several Shredding Events Coming Up

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If you missed the shredding event sponsored by the 46th Ward and Rep. Greg Harris in July, or if you have more paper to be shredded, never fear. There are several more free shredding events taking place around Uptown in the next couple weeks:
  • Sunday, September 25th, 9am-noon, 40th Ward Streets & San Yard (5333 N Western, next to Drake & Sons Funeral Home). Sponsored by 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O'Connor. No electronics accepted. Shredding done on-site.
  • Saturday, October 1, 9am-noon, LaSalle Language Academy’s South parking lot (1734 N. Orleans, enter on Orleans). Sponsored by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz. Paper-based recyclables only, shredding done on-site.
  • Saturday, October 1, 9am-noon, parking lot of 44th Ward Office, 3223 N Sheffield. Sponsored by 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney. Shredding done on-site.

Get In My Belly! Taste of Uptown Restaurants Announced

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Details have been released for the first Taste of Uptown! Uptown United says:

"Join us for the first annual Taste of Uptown - an event that celebrates Uptown's amazing cultural and culinary diversity. Participants will sample Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Mexican, and more, all in one route! Explore long-standing Uptown favorites like Baker & Nosh and Demera Ethiopian, along with brand-new establishments, such as My Chocolate Soul and kāl'ish.

Participants will receive a passport at check-in at Uptown Arcade (4830 N. Broadway) and stroll from restaurant to restaurant along the Broadway and Wilson corridors enjoying samples of amazing food at various locations.

TICKETS - $25 in advance, $35 at the door. $5 from each ticket sale will be donated to Inspiration Corporation, an Uptown organization helping those who are homeless increase their self-sufficiency.

Participating Businesses:
  • Baker & Nosh
  • Caravan restaurant and nightclub
  • Crew Bar + Grill
  • demera ethiopian restaurant
  • Everybody's Coffee
  • Fiesta Mexicana
  • Heritage Outpost
  • kāl'ish Short Order Vegan
  • La Ciudad Mexican Cafe & Grill
  • Lao Sze Chuan Restaurant Uptown
  • My Chocolate Soul
  • Palla's Grill
  • Pokiology
  • Silver Seafood Chicago
  • Thai Uptown
  • Uptown Brownie"
And here's more:

Former Inspiration Kitchens Location Goes Up For Lease

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4715 N. Sheridan, now available for lease
We certainly miss Inspiration Kitchens, which closed down at the end of July due to state budget cuts. The location at 4715 N. Sheridan is now being marketed by Andrea Miller at Miller Chicago Real Estate. The restaurant is likely close to "turn-key" and ready for a restaurateur. Contact Andrea at 312-513-8333 if you or anyone you know might be interested in leasing.

Verizon Makes It Official At Broadway & Clifton As Second Location Opens

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Uptown's first Verizon store at Broadway & Clifton
The official signage on Uptown's first Verizon store went up in the past few days at Broadway & Clifton. Hard to believe this building and corner was once filled with litter, scissor gates and vacant storefronts. Verizon now joins Michelin star rated 42 Grams and Spoil Me Salon in this historic building that had seen better days before its beautiful rehab around 7 years ago.
Meanwhile, at the recently rehabbed building at Lawrence and Clark, a second Verizon location has opened. If you are a Verizon subscriber, you now have options.
Verizon on Lawrence just west of Clark

FLATSstudio Goes "Off-Kilter"

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Come see FLATSstudio's new art show in the rehabbed Bachelor Hotel, at Wilson and Clifton. RSVP required.

Founder of Fiesta Mexicana Passes Away

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a mourning ribbon in honor of Lucy Matthew
at Fiesta Mexicana on Broadway
It's such an Uptown story: the Peruvian daughter of Chinese immigrants comes to Chicago and finds success opening a Mexican restaurant.

Many of us love Fiesta Mexicana, but had no idea it opened back in 1979, when Uptown was a very different place. Lucy Matthew, then age 28, took a chance and opened at 4806 North Broadway. Later, she opened another location in Lincoln Park, in 1985.

Ms. Matthew passed away on September 3rd. Her full obituary is in the Sun-Times. Raise a glass to her memory next time you're at one of her restaurants.

Big Changes Coming Monday For Wilson Red Line Riders

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click to enlarge
In the clearest sign yet that the remaining set of aging original tracks are coming down soon as part of the Wilson Red Line reconstruction, there will be some significant boarding and exiting changes for riders.

Beginning Monday, September 26:
  • The station's main entrance on Broadway will close.
  • The auxiliary entrance on the south side of Wilson will close.
  • The east platform (closest to Broadway) will close. It is currently used by northbound passengers.
  • All trains heading both northbound and southbound will be accessed via the new west passenger platform.
CTA says, "Customers may access this platform from the two existing temporary entrances on Wilson Ave --
  • the main entrance on the south side of the street (staffed, with fare vending machines), or
  • the auxiliary entrance on the north side of the street (unstaffed, farecard required for entry)."
The Wilson station in 1917. The building on the right, long since demolished,
was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (courtesy of Chicago-L.org)
According to Chicago-L.org, the east platform that is in use today was built in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Riders who use it on Sunday Friday evening* will be the last ones ever to get on and off trains from that particular platform.

* The east platform will close at 9pm Friday evening as northbound stations are bypassed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lack of Funding Leads To Year-End Closure of Men's Overnight Shelter at 941 Lawrence

click to enlarge

Citing the lack of a state budget, the inability of the city's DFSS program to increase its funding, increased costs of programming, and rising insurance and salary costs for its employees, North Side Housing & Supportive Services announced today that it will close its emergency overnight men's shelter at the Preston Bradley Center at the end of the year.

It will maintain all of its other services, including managing nearly 200 permanent-housing apartments for its clientele and a drop-in center in Ravenswood.

For nearly five years, North Side Housing has provided 72 beds at 941 West Lawrence for men needing immediate shelter. It took over the space after the REST shelter closed at the same location. At the end of June 2016, it had previously announced it would close, but the passage of a state stop-gap budget the same week gained it an additional six months of operating expenses.

In its letter, referenced above, it says that NSH&SS will stop taking in new clients as of October 1st and will "work diligently to ensure all residents are placed in alternative shelters throughout Chicago before the December closure."

In addition to the bad news about the shelter closing, there may be a ripple effect for the Preston Bradley Center. The letter says, "The Department of Family & Support Services will not be awarding this contract to another agency." That means the Preston Bradley Center will be losing an important tenant. We don't know the financial condition of the PBC, but we know that losing the funding that came with reliable rent payments is sure to leave a gap.

We hope that this works out for everyone, but have to admit that it looks bleak at the moment.

Grants Available For Small Business Owners In Uptown & Edgewater

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Bar Roma To Open In Former Tapas Las Ramblas Location

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Tapas Las Ramblas, located at Carmen and Clark, quietly closed its doors in late winter, 2013. Ever since then, the space has been sitting empty, waiting for a new tenant.

According to the Tribune, the restaurant space was bought outright by recently retired mortgage broker Julia Zhu, who plans to open BAR ROMA in late October, "a casual Italian restaurant that will feature Roman-inspired dishes and an eclectic selection of 'global' meatballs."

What exactly are 'global meatballs'? The Tribune explains: "an eclectic assortment of meatballs; think veal-sweetbread meatballs, chicken meatballs topped with fried eggs, Shanghai-style meatballs and, of course, Swedish meatballs in a nod to the Andersonville neighborhood."

We're glad to see a very nice restaurant space filled again, and we wish Ms. Zhu and her team the best of luck in bringing something new to Uptown.

Update: The restaurants website, including a menu, is here.

KFC and Nhu Lan Both Re-Open At Weiss Plaza

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Nearly ten months after a devastating kitchen fire, both KFC and Nhu Lan bakery and sandwich shop have re-opened to customers in Weiss Plaza, located at the northwest corner of Sheridan and Lawrence.

Both eateries have changed their storefront sizes, with Nhu Lan gaining room for a few more tables. KFC has an easier-to-manage layout, smaller than it was before, but still offers a spacious dining room with all the tables in view of the front counter.

Nhu Lan held its Grand Re-Opening on Friday, September 16th and is still filled with fragrant bouquets of flowers wishing it good luck. Its hours are 8am-7pm Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays). You can check out its menu here; be sure to try the banh mi! It does dine-in, carryout, and delivery, and its phone number is 773-944-9288.

KFC had hoped to open in August, but red tape held it up. It opened its doors shortly after noon today and within minutes was full of customers. It's been completely remodeled inside, as you can see by the photos. It will be open 10am-10pm seven days a week to begin, and may adjust accordingly depending on demand.

Welcome back!