As feared since smoke first rose from the fires of Mount Doom, Alden Capital has reached an agreement to take over the Chicago Tribune, and bleed it dry until they’ve extracted every bit of profit they can from it. A non-Alden paper, the Washington Post, sums the situation up:

Those who know anything about local journalism in America are in general agreement: Being bought by Alden is the worst possible fate for the newspapers and the communities involved…

When Alden comes in, it’s slash-and-burn time. Newsroom jobs — reporters, editors, photographers — are cut to the bone. Decisions are made not for long-term sustainability, not for service to the community, not for humane treatment of skilled and dedicated staff, but for next quarter’s profit-and-loss statement.

But we knew that. This sale to vultures is possible because of one man in particular, as Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt tweeted:

Reading this timeline of the Tribune’s horrible ownership situation and wondered: Who has done more damage to Chicago civil society than Michael Ferro? Honest question. The guy did major tronc to two major American newspapers, then sold to Alden


Steve Dolinsky’s last Friday report is on Taqueria Chingon, revealing the makeup of its vegetarian pastor (celery root and portobello mushrooms) and a few other secrets (the churros are made from pate de choux). That’s followed by some messages of farewell about his 17 years of covering food in Chicago, though in fact he had one more report—Saturday night’s, on chicken parmesan sandwiches.


One of the first things I did when i moved into my neighborhood was walk into the neighborhood bakery and eat, as it turned out, the best possible thing to have there—a perfect thing, in fact: the chocolate Bismarck at Dinkel’s. Been there hundreds of times since, ordered cakes there, including my all-time favorite kid birthday cake.  When I first went there I thought it was commonplace for every neighborhood to have a local bakery—maybe it still was in 1988; some I knew then are gone now, like Swedish Bakery and Avondale’s Pasieka Bakery, which burned in 2011. But Dinkel’s has survived.

Survived, but now there’s talk of selling the (Streamline Moderne) building and relocating to somewhere else, or of shrinking to a smaller space within the present building, though owner Norm Dinkel also thinks the business model needs to change, per the Sun-Times:

In the early days of the bakery, people would walk — or as Dinkel described it, “use the two foot express,” to go to shops multiple times a day. Now, those practices aren’t as common.

“Shopping habits have changed, driving, walking habits have changed,” Dinkel said. “It’s a fast-paced world and so the new model has to be reviewed.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve walked there for every one of my hundreds of visits. Once this snow is gone and we can roam the world, you should too—parking is not that hard in the area, and though the neighborhood lacks the amenities like used book or record stores that it had a decade ago, there are still other places to visit, like beer shop Bitter Pops.


Nick Kindelsperger profiles a family who, being Norteño, specialize in flour tortillas in this corn tortilla town:

The Navarro family is aware of the flour tortilla dearth in the city. Erika Navarro, one of two sisters in the family, explains her family is from Nuevo Laredo, a city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. “We grew up eating flour tortillas,” says Navarro. “Even if we had nothing else in the fridge, we always had flour tortillas, beans and salsa. Believe it or not, we always felt special. These flour tortillas never get old.”


There’s another issue of that U of C-based art publication about food—the one I said was next to impossible to track down an actual copy of (there was a link in the article for a PDF). I’m not going to repeat that mistake this time, but if there’s a link to download it this time I didn’t find it. Anyway, Mike Sula offers a preview in the form of a tale of bacalao hanging over the bar at a tapas spot in New York, and how that may have inspired the same at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!


Here’s a fun retail experience to have in this housebound time: Kit: A Bar Supply Store is a new shop in Portage Park that sells high quality stuff for your home bar. (Chicago Reader)


Update on the North Center ghost kitchen site driving neighbors nuts at Block Club:

Cloud Kitchens is trying to cut down on parking issues by renting out 15 spaces at a parking lot at 4111 N. Rockwell St. It will use that as a staging area for drivers picking up food and for employee parking starting March 8…

The company already stopped letting people pick up orders for Chick-fil-A to cut down on customers double parking. Now, people can only get those orders through a third-party delivery driver, Benson said.

Again, if these were actual restaurants there’d be a whole process for managing the traffic. Virtual restaurnats that draw the same traffic are here to stay, but need to be managed like any other restaurants.


This is cool: Erick Williams of Virtue and Detroit chef Patrick Coleman are noting Black History Month with fried chicken box lunches in boxes with text about figure in black history. Time Out has more info and pictures.


Trevor Teich joined Car Con Carne to talk about the upcoming opening of his peripatetic restaurant Claudia in what he hopes will be a permanent home in Bucktown.

Kevin Boehm was on a podcast called The Main Ingredient to talk about his and the Boka Group’s path and how COVID knocked that for a loop—and where they go from there.


Dive into the deep history of pizza, in Chicago and America, with this Culinary Historians program by Peter Regas, who has some remarkable documentation on the earliest days of the foodstuff in America, and on Chicago’s original pizzeria, Granato’s. Watch for a Faulds oven!


I used to cook something special for Valentine’s Day—but now, my cooking, we eat that all the time. So I tried to think of somewhere I had not ordered from since lockdown but knew I liked—and thought of Monteverde. Speaking of chicken parm, I ordered the “whole chicken parm that beat Bobby Flay,” pounded chicken breasts stuffed with a sausage made from chicken thighs—delicious but kind of heavy the next day, and as big as it is, you’re going to be eating it another day—plus a salad, rapini and meatball ravioli. I’d been in a mood for hearty, earthy Italian food, and this went over just fine.

I’ve also been eating a lot of middle eastern food, but I’d hit a point where it was kind of all the same. So I decided to check Galit’s site and they have a vegetarian dinner combo—a bunch of their appetizers, like hummus, ezme and falafel, plus some of the sides like carrots and beets. It was different from the stuff I kept ordering, and made for two virtuous days of vegetarian dinner. Maybe someday I’ll try new restaurants again, but I was happy with revisiting some familar spots last week.