Thursday, April 24, 2014

Come To Weiss Plaza's Grand Re-Opening, New and Improved!

Free Staged Readings About Homelessness In Chicago, "Shelter/Chicago"

Come see SHELTER/CHICAGO, a play created by homeless Chicagoans, homeless shelter staff, theater artists, and journalists, investigating homelessness in Chicago and how the media covers the story.

Two FREE staged readings next week:

  • Monday, April 28th at 5pm at Cornerstone Community Outreach, 4628 N Clifton 
  • Tuesday, April 29th at 5:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington

On Tuesday, April 29, 5:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Cassidy Theater (78 E. Washington) in Chicago, SHELTER/CHICAGO will be part of a lively event called “Written Off?”   Following the performance, a discussion moderated by Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and ABC 7-Chicago Political Analyst will invite the audience to engage in a talk-back.

Both readings are FREE to the public, though reservations are recommended for 4/29, and can be made by emailing to, or visiting the IHC website.

 For more info: and see us on Facebook.

Missing Man May Be In Uptown/Lakeview Area

A South Side man, 24-year-old Tony Dukes, has been reported missing and was last seen at the Sheridan Red Line station on Monday, April 21st.

He enjoys riding the Red Line and often gets out and visits businesses and restaurants around the stations along the route.

He is 5'7", 340 lbs., and wears his hair in a short Afro.  He was last seen wearing a white long sleeve shirt, gray jeans, and gray gym shoes.

He may seem confused or disoriented if approached.  If you see him, please call 911 or the police at 312-747-8380.

Dining Out For Life Thursday

We urge you to give yourself a treat -- and do some good -- today:  Eat at a local restaurant and fight AIDS at the same time.

The Dining Out website says:  "On Thursday, April 24th, 2014, join us to celebrate food, friends and a great cause at our 21st annual Dining Out For Life! Last year, Chicago raised over $115,000 to continue its mission of providing housing with life services to men, women & children living with HIV/AIDS. This year we hope to raise even more! You can help make a difference by joining us along with 60 other cities throughout North America and Nigeria and dine out on Thursday, April 24th!"

The only participating Uptown restaurant is Crew, 4804 North Broadway, which is donating a portion of its receipts from lunch and dinner to the cause.  Please stop by if you can and help a very worthy cause.
There are restaurants all over the city participating, including many in Edgewater and Lakeview, but give the hometown heroes some love, okay??  We thank all the participating restaurants for their generosity.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sonic Sets The Date

You might want to start a preemptive diet now, because limeades and tater tots are arriving in Uptown on....

May 6th!

Sonic Uptown ran a notice on its Facebook page today saying,
"Because you're our Loyal Fans...we want you to be the first to know...

SONIC of Uptown will be opening up to the public at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6th!!!

We have some fun things in store for our Grand stay tuned for details!!!

We're SUPER EXCITED...are you?!?"

Uptown/Edgewater Mariano's Opens, And We've Got The Pictures To Prove It

The wait is over.  After months of rumors and conjecture, the former Dominick's at 5201 North Sheridan opened its doors to shoppers as Mariano's on Tuesday.  The mayor wasn't there, as he was on Monday -- and we didn't see Bob Mariano, but there were shoppers, lots of shoppers, eager to see what the new store was all about.

Uptown Update got a personal tour with a Mariano's representative (a former Uptown resident), who pointed out some of the features of the new store.  At 55,000 square feet, it's not as large as the monster 80,000sf store at Lawrence and Ravenswood, which we've been avoiding in order to judge the Uptown/Edgewater store on its own merits.  It may not be the biggest, but this Mariano's pretty much knocked our socks off.

From the outside, it looks very much like Dominick's did.  But big changes lie within.  400 new employees and services that we haven't seen in any grocery store before.  Customers were lined up at kiosks to validate their value cards, which work on the "punch system" -- for example, buy ten of a certain item, get the next one free.

When you enter the store from the Foster/Sheridan corner, you'll find yourself in the specialty food station area, perfect for people who want to grab a bite to go or eat inside at one of several cafe seating areas (with in-store wi-fi).  Much of the food prep takes place on the spot and right in front of customers (click all photos for larger versions):

Vero coffee and baked goods/breakfast items.

Squeez'd smoothie bar, with changing "Juice of the Day" selections.  We sampled
the kale smoothie, which (frankly) we expected to be nasty, but it was delicious!
Calorie and nutritional values are on display for each drink.

The gelato bar, with samples available for the asking.  We had coconut,
and yes, that is Ferrero Rocher flavor you see.  (Heaven.)

One of our favorite features, the build-your-own-meal station.  For $6, you can
buy a McDonald's meal across the street, or you can go to Mariano's and
get an entree and two side dishes of your choice.  A couple entrees are higher
priced ($10), but this is a healthier, and in some cases cheaper, alternative to fast food.

Buy a burger, seafood, or anything from the meat department, and the grill station
will prepare it right in front of you for no additional charge.  According to
our guide, Mariano's is known for its pub burgers and sausage.

Create your own salad at the huge salad bar
(there are also an olive bar and a soup bar).

Sushi chefs create rolls right in front of you, and on request.

Two different styles of pizza, meals to go, and sandwiches made to order.

A huge selection of cheeses from around the world.  The counter
wraps around and goes all the way to the wall.

Watch the cupcakes get decorated in the bakery, or buy one to go for just $2.25.

Cookies!  We particularly liked the shoe-shaped iced cookies.

Bread of all kinds, and you can buy it by the slice if you'd like.

At the front of the food specialty area, there are mini-checkout stands,
designed to help help people getting meals or snacks out the door quickly,
so they don't have to spend their lunch hour waiting in line
So those are the ready-to-go food stations.  Now on to the rest of the store:

Remember the meeting regarding the liquor moratorium, and the
unanimous vote to lift it for this area?  This is what it got customers:
a huge selection of craft beers, and a "build your own six-pack" option.
Mix and match 6 bottles for $9.  (No bottles are sold individually.)

An absolutely huge wine section, as well as personal picks from
Mariano's wine experts.  There's also a large spirits section.
An in-store nutritionist, Peggy Balboa, will hold seminars about health, particularly as
it relates to eating.  Check the stores Events page for these and other special events.
There were free cholesterol and glucose screenings Tuesday, with the glucose screenings
being held on a daily basis.  Peggy will also do nutritional counseling.  There is a
$4 prescription club for common generic drugs, similar to Walmart's plan.  

Two walls of organic produce, as well as filling a freestanding case.
A taffy apple and popcorn stand.  Get your fresh Chicago Mix right here!
You can also get taffy apples of all descriptions, after watching them
get dipped and coated on the spot.

Fresh herbs, eleven different kinds.

Got a hankering for exotic produce, like sugar cane, dragon fruit,
aloe vera leaves, or several varieties of papayas?  Get 'em here.
The floral department has beautiful arrangements of succulents,
an option to build your own floral bouquet stem by stem, and ....

.... if you've ever wanted roses with five-foot-tall stems, now you can get them.

The piano player will serenade customers on busy days, directly from the card and gift section.

There are foods from 20 different countries in the international aisle.
Where better than Uptown with our diverse population?
The store is open from 6am-10pm with some of the specialty stations closing a bit earlier.  The pharmacy is open 8am-10pm weekdays, and 9am-5pm weekends.  The Store Director is Megan Gleeson, and the phone number is 773-506-0558.  Hope you enjoy checking it out as much as we did.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Ba Le Desserts & Drinks" Coming Soon

The old location of Ba Le Sandwich at 5018 N. Broadway, soon to be "Ba Le Desserts & Drinks" (via Google)
EveryBlock has a link to a building permit for 5018 N. Broadway, the original location of Ba Le Sandwich before it expanded one door south to its new location. The building permit states that we can expect Ba Le to open up a new dessert venture simply called "Ba Le Desserts & Drinks". The interior will be completely gutted and reconfigured. Good news for Argyle & Broadway for sure!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sonic Watch Continues

Sonic waited all through this miserably cold winter to complete work on the grounds of its first Chicago store, at Kenmore and Wilson. Now that the ground has finally thawed, they're wasting no time.  What was mud and gravel just a few days ago is now poured cement.  Every day there's something new.

The double drive-thru lanes are ready

So are the carhop-serviced parking spots

Work on the two curb cuts on Wilson is underway
After everything is complete, there will be city inspections and probably some adjustments.  No one is even hinting at an opening date yet.  But at the rate construction is happening, you know Sonic is eager to get things going and start serving customers.

Dumpsters Denote Demo?

An alert reader noticed that it appears demo work has begun on the long-empty Piser Weinstein Funeral Home site, just a bit north of the intersection of Broadway and Foster.  Large dumpsters are now stationed in the parking lot.

Readers may recall that it was bought last August for the purpose of turning it into a "20,000-square-foot multi-tenant retail complex," most probably a strip mall with parking in the front.

There are several strip malls already on that section of Broadway, and whether or not that's the highest and best use of this property is a hotly debated topic.  The funeral home has been closed for at least a decade and has sat empty and abandoned.  Now it has the added indignity of sporting red X's, denoting an empty building that could pose a danger to first responders.  The X's tell them not to enter if a fire should break out.  It's hardly a good look for an intersection that should be a lively retail destination.

Ald. Osterman went a-courting Trader Joe's when the property was bought, but TJ's ultimately decided it had no interest in entering the Uptown/Edgewater market.  Edgeville Buzz has a recent story about the lot and mentions rumors that Chipotle may be a possible tenant.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Divvy Week Begins Today

Just in time for semi-decent weather, the city has declared today through Sunday to be "DIVVY Week."

There will be all sorts of promotions, including:
  • A website --
  • Groupons, with your choice of (1) $12.99 for three Groupons, each valid for one 24-hour pass ($21 value)l or (2) $65 for a one-year "Gear" membership ($125 value)
  • Daily passes, regularly $7, will be available for just $5. Riders can use a credit or debit card to activate a 24-hour pass at any Divvy kiosk.
  • Chicagoans who become annual members during Divvy Week will receive a Chipotle gift card good for a free burrito, burrito bowl, order of tacos, or a salad.  
  • Divvy members will receive 50 percent off frozen yogurt from any Forever Yogurt location in Chicago by simply flashing their Divvy key at checkout.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vinyl Lovers, Get Over To Shake Rattle & Read

It's that time again, when record stores live up to their name ....

When those who love the "snap, crackle, pop" of vinyl recordings can get their fix ....

When revolution refers to 45 and 33⅓ ....


Shake Rattle & Read, right next door to the fabled Uptown Theater, is participating.  Today only!  Get out there and have fun, you crazy kids.

Update:  SR&R's proprietor, Ric Addy, posted on UU's Facebook page---

"Hi UU - Thank you so much for helping spread the word yesterday! THANK YOU!! To everyone who came out and supported us on Record Store Day!

What a wonderful turn out and what FUN we had! It was a total blast seeing everyone smiling and having fun buying 'stacks of wax' !

And even after being in this same location for the last 48 years -it is so cool to meet so many of you that said it was your first time in my shop! See You All Again Soon!"

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Services

For those interested in attending, here are services some local churches are offering:
  • Uptown Baptist Church -- 12:30 - 3pm -- Seven Last Words of Christ (1011 W Wilson)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes -- 3pm Stations of the Cross; 5:30pm Lord’s Passion, Veneration of the Cross and Communion (4640 N Ashland)
  • St Mary of the Lake -- 3pm Good Friday Mass (4200 N Sheridan)
  • St Thomas of Canterbury -- 7pm Stations of the Cross; 7:30pm Service of the Lord's Passion (4827 N Kenmore)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Renovations For Tracks And Stations From Lawrence To Bryn Mawr?

So here's the good news:  "The CTA will move ahead as early as 2017 with the total reconstruction of four stations and the replacement of deteriorating track and elevated structure on the Red Line north branch, at an estimated cost of $1.13 billion, transit officials announced Wednesday. The stations, part of an overall plan to renew the north Red Line and Purple Line, are at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. All four stations will be equipped with elevators."

Here's the bad news:  "Funding has not yet been secured for the four stations and related track work to eliminate slow zones."

Our experience of 25 years of empty promises about the Wilson Red Line station renovation means we're not about to get very excited about rapid transit projects that sound great, but have no money attached to those lovely plans.  We finally believe that there will be a new Wilson Station, with construction starting this fall.  As for the other stations, we'd love to be surprised by the CTA in 2017.

For the entire article, read the Tribune's Jon Hilkevitch's take on it.

New Construction Coming To Dover Street?

Possible rendering of 4753 Dover
The side lot next to St. John's Assyrian Church on the 4700 block of Dover is under construction as of this week. We're hearing that the owners of the lot requested a zoning change last year, which was not approved by the block club. The latest we hear is that the plans were redrawn to conform to the property's R-3 zoning. No idea what will be going in. We'll share if and when we know more.

Update: After a bit more digging, we came across this rendering of the proposed 2 dwelling residence at 4753 Dover. Hat-tip to UU reader Kieran for coming across the building permit info. We aren't sure how accurate this rendering is, as it was posted last June, though it gives us a good idea of what to expect.

LSD Closed In Both Directions Due To Mysterious Package

We're hearing a ton of helicopters and we're hearing from readers that Lake Shore Drive has been closed in both directions between Wilson and Foster.

According to the Tribune, a suspicious package was found at the Drive near Lawrence. Probably (hopefully) much ado about nothing, but better to be safe than not.  Anyone got any further info?

Update:  Sun-Times has the story with a cool photo.

Update:  Tribune's Facebook page says the "suspicious package" resembles a blue sleeping bag in a case.  Now how on earth did THAT get near the Drive and Lawrence?

Update:  As of 2:28pm, a Facebook reader says, "Roads are clear. Traffic normal again."

Update:  The updated Tribune story says, "The item is believed to have belonged to one of the homeless people who frequently sleep under the viaducts under the Lake Shore Drive in the Uptown neighborhood, according to a police source."

Vacant Lot At Lawrence & Clark Being Cleared For Future Development

View looking west along Clark
View looking north along Lawrence
NW corner of Lawrence and Clark as seen on April 15
News broke recently on Ald. Pawar's Facebook page about the long-overdue development of the lot on the NW corner of Lawrence and Clark. Pawar's office shared that the developer is Candea Developments, who have done projects around Uptown. Candea is wasting no time in clearing the lot of trash and rubble as you can see by the dumpster on the lot (above). Check out Candea's "recent projects" and "in progress" to get an idea of their development style. We are ecstatic to see more progress in this neck of Uptown. Between the Backyard Andersonville townhomes and this, things are certainly looking up along north Clark! When a rendering and site plan surface, we will be sure to share it with you. Pawar's office says the proposed building will conform to current zoning regulations on the lot. You can see what once occupied the lot below.

Update: Ald. Pawar's website has been updated with the official plans from Candea.
A reminder of the height of the building that once stood on this corner

Wilson/Broadway Shooting Victim Home From Hospital

Brion Payne, who was shot at Wilson and Broadway on April 1st, has been released from the hospital. He gave an interview to CBS Chicago about his ordeal and recovery. It's still unclear just what provoked Joey Jones of Logan Square, the alleged gunman, to shoot Mr. Payne in the back of the head while they waited for Jones' father at the currency exchange. It's amazing that Mr. Payne survived the experience of having a bullet pass through his head. The video and the CBS link are here.

I'm sure we'll be hearing much, much more about this incident as time goes on.