Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Info About Sonic's & Pie Hole Pizza's Uptown Debuts

Uptown's Sonic is winding its way through the city's epic red tape, on the way to getting all the necessary permits to open at Kenmore and Wilson.

The first hurdle was passed on March 15th in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals, when a conditional use permit was approved for a double drive-through (with a condition that the Department of Housing and Economic Development must give its approval to the building materials).  Our original article stated that Sonic must also get permission for two curb cuts on Wilson from CDOT.

When all the permits are in place, it will take approximately 75 days to construct the restaurant.  The soonest it will be able to open is August, and that's assuming everything goes according to plan with the City.

Another restaurant with a much-anticipated presence in Uptown, Pie Hole Pizza Joint posted on its Facebook page that its opening at Clark & Argyle is now set for "May-ish," rather than the hoped-for April 1st.


  1. Has anyone approached Sonic about making a more eco-friendly updated version of their restaurant than a drive-thru? Yet another drive-thru fast-food restaurant, this one only 500 feet from the $203 million public investment in Wilson Avenue CTA station, in a ward trying to be a model of sustainability just doesn't make sense. Here we're spending all this money on bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly improvements, and we are settling for a drive-thru that close to the prized Uptown historic district and lakefront?

  2. Tekst, unless you are also proposing to close the McDonalds drive through next door and the parking lot in front of the KFC at Lawrence and Sheridan, it is not relistic. Indeed, look at Target and the Wilson TIF and how many parking spaces were built for both it and Truman College. Guess those should close too... So, no, it is not practical in a real life setting... although a thoughtful idea.

  3. Thanks for your feedback, Uptown SuperHero! We don't put drive-thrus downtown next to our parks and pedestrian areas, so it's definitely possible to do something more creative with that amazing location. Sonic's core values include: "Doing different, special and better things to surprise and delight everyone touched by the SONIC brand."

    McDonald's does parking-free restaurants in pedestrian zones all over the world, so who knows? They might even join in if asked.

    I agree we should direct drivers to the existing parking garages you mention, but then we need to encourage visitors to walk through the neighborhood to shop in stores and eat in restaurants, not drive. That's what would make the entertainment district lively and more sustainable, not the in & out idling traffic we have today. We have so much traffic driving through Uptown as it is, but 40% of Uptowners don't drive—that's a serious "green" achievement we should celebrate, not put at even greater risk.

  4. Tekst,

    Uptown is not the loop. Many people who live in Uptown have cars, and may people travel to Uptown by car. There is no way Sonic would not have a drive-thru.
    While McDonalds in the loop don't have drive thrus, even the one in River North (obviously a more densely populated area of Chicago than Uptown, with lots of foot traffic) has a drive thru.
    That being said, this Sonic is supposedly going to be different and at least a bit more pedestrian friendly than their typical restaurant. See the description in the post here:

    I think that's really all we can reasonably ask for.

  5. Uptown needs a true, highly developed, publicly-vetted sustainable urban plan. It's one of the densest areas of the city. uptowner, I appreciate what you're saying but River North and Uptown couldn't be more different. See, for ex., Uptown vs. River North

    CO2 emissions & traffic congestion are serious & expensive urban concerns. The Annual Urban Mobility Report ( again showed that Chicago has horrendous congestion & extremely unreliable commute times. All those hours in traffic = lost productivity + huge CO2 emissions.

    It's not only reasonable for residents to ask about any plan to add car-oriented development to one of the densest areas of the city, it's imperative. Uptown is stellar on public transit & bike/ped-friendliness. These are key selling points. Drive-in restaurants and event traffic are NOT key Uptown selling points. Adding double driveways & 10-12 drive-up slots to Wilson Ave so close to one of the largest public transit investments in modern Chicago history is so out of keeping with best planning practice today that it's flat-out confusing.

    Not so long ago the plan was to prioritize pedestrians over cars on Wilson Ave. The Lakefront Plan of 1972 that accompanied the landmark Lakefront Protection Ordinance stated: "Ultimately, the Wilson Avenue-Lake Shore Drive underpass should be converted to pedestrian use only and the traffic interchange should be removed." Uptown's getting the new CTA station we've waited for now for several decades, so what's the amazing plan for Wilson Ave to ensure the success of that investment?

  6. I hope the amazing Wilson Ave plan is to keep it exactly as it is.

  7. A great read is Uptown Chicago History's post of Henry Justin Smith's "Down the Shore to Uptown" from 1931, Uptown SuperHero! Shows how some things change and some stay very much the same: "One day in a recent year fifty thousand persons were counted passing the corner of Wilson and Broadway. From Wilson Avenue to Argyle, and beyond, Sheridan Road is frequented by youths with no obvious business, couples yawningly in search of new amusements, girls in garish costume, women of blasé aspect, leading poodles equally blasé." For anyone who's not see them, great pics of The Bulldog & Whistle at Wilson & Clarendon and more:

  8. Yipes! Drive throughs in Uptown? More driveways across our crosswalks? More cars, more parking? Ugh, let's be more creative and community minded and promote walkable communities.