On May 20, twenty-four South Side breweries will be gathering for the first-ever South Side Craft Beer Fest, hosted at Baderbräu Brewing Company in the South Loop. To whet our appetites, we held a gathering of our own a month early. These five breweries are certainly not all our side of town has to offer—catch us at the inaugural fest paying our respects to Beverly’s Horse Thief Hollow, Back of the Yards’s Whiner Brewing, Pilsen’s Lo Rez, and more.
Two long, drip-irrigated plant beds run parallel to the southernmost wall of KAM Isaiah Israel, a Reform synagogue that straddles the border between Hyde Park and Kenwood. Some sections of the two beds bear different varieties of kale and collard greens. Others are filled with what appear to be weeds but are actually a cover crop, storing up carbon and nitrogen in the soil for produce that will be planted in weeks to come.
Ignacio Bautista is the owner of Gio’s, a casual Italian café and deli in Bridgeport known for their Sicilian dishes. Gio’s opened in 2001 after Ignacio and his now-retired business partner, Giovanni Liuzzo, alongside chef Victor Quezada, decided to take their combined four decades of Italian restaurant experience and open one of their own. Since opening, the restaurant has grown from four to sixteen tables and become a favorite for neighborhood locals and suburbanites alike.
The kitchen of St. Ailbe’s Catholic Church, located in Calumet Heights, was filled on the evening of April 5, with people and smells. It smelled good, like something frying.
When Jimmy Li first moved to Bridgeport in 1984, he was one of the few Asian immigrants to live in the neighborhood. Over seventy-six percent of residents at the time were white, twenty percent identified as Hispanic or Latino, and less than one percent were African-American. The Asian population was all but unaccounted for by authorities until the 1990 census, which reported that they constituted 16 percent of the population.
Mellini Monique was listening to a sermon when the minister said, “Hey, whatever you have, whatever is in your bag, God has given you to reach people.” At that point, Monique had to ask herself: what was in her bag? What did she have to offer? Popcorn.
It was just by chance,” said Ayisha Strotter, describing the decision she made with her mother, Margo, that transformed the two into restaurateurs. Ain’t She Sweet Café opened in Bronzeville in 2006. The mother-daughter team created a community out of the restaurant with its vibrant, down-home feel, and they met a demand for quality food with service in the neighborhood. Now, they’ve used their success to open a second location in Beverly; the new restaurant opened its doors on March 6.
Stacks of shelves, repurposed. In the Hyde Park storefront at the intersection of 57th Street and Harper Avenue that formerly housed Southside Hub of Production, a cultural center, and before that O’Gara & Wilson—Chicago’s oldest bookstore before it moved to Indiana in 2013—now stands 57th Street Wines, the neighborhood’s newest small business: a specialty wine and liquor store. At the shop’s grand opening last Friday, distributors set up tasting tables on the store’s boldly checkered floor tiles (restored from the space’s bookstore days), while customers met and mingled, wine samples in hand. The trio behind the store, owner Steven Lucy and co-workers Bex Behlen and Derrick Westbrook, were present in their semi-formal best, directing customers to shelves not unlike the ones that held volumes of books less than four years ago. This time, their contents concerned neither genre nor author, but red and white .
Nicole Bond, a writer and performance poet, was interviewed by Chloe Hadavas for a story on food access in South Shore. The article explored the food desert that remains in South Shore after plans for a Mariano’s in the ill-fated Lakeside development were scrapped. She later joined Hadavas on WBEZ’s The Barber Shop Show to discuss the article, but came away from the interview with reservations. Bond, who has since joined the Weekly as Stage & Screen Editor, expands on those reservations, and the continued fight for food access in South Shore, in this editorial.
Though Whole Foods opened in Englewood in September, dozens of interviews with local residents reveal that perceptions of the high-end grocery store remain a barrier to accessing fresh produce.