This is a practical, wartime edition of Buzz List, focused on actionable items and media that educates on the situation. As lousy as the situation is, it is truly a tribute to our restaurant scene how many chefs and owners have jumped on innovating solutions and advocating for the restaurant industry to government. Now it’s up to us, diners and home cooks, to do our part.


First: more than anything, order from restaurants you love to help keep them going through this time and enjoy them again on the other side.

Dining at a Distance collects basic up-to-date ordering info for restaurants in Chicago, and is the best resource for that, so it’s the first site to bookmark right now. You can also add restaurants that you know about that aren’t on there yet. Kudos to friend of Fooditor Jenn Galdes, Sean Lynch and others who put this together in a day, basically, for Chicago restaurants, and then saw it quickly spread to other cities. You can support their volunteer efforts here.

Tock To Go offers direct ordering for 22 (at this writing) Chicago restaurants (and others around the country—no, you’re probably out of Single Thread’s delivery area). It’s worked at least for Alinea, which sold a lot of hearty St. Clair Supper Club-style food (Beef Wellington and mashed potatoes), if not exactly Alinea food. From their list, I’m looking forward to pizza from Table, Donkey & Stick, though it may be a while, as I already have the stuff to make grandma pizza at home for my family.

Many restaurants have GoFundMes, gift cards, or other ways for you to offer direct support for staff outside of ordering food—think of it as an extra large tip for people you’ve been served by over the years. I can tell you ones I’ve supported— including Schwa, Bar Biscay/mfk., Oriole, Birrieria Zaragoza, Edzo’s, and Kimski. But don’t just support my list—support the places that mean something to you. Follow your favorites on Facebook and Twitter, you’re most likely to see word of fundraisers there. There’s been some discussion about whether gift cards really help (no question they’re kicking the problem forward from an accounting perspective) but this is not the time for knocking other peoples’ solutions—there are many kinds of restaurants and many ways to help. Some of us like standing in line for cheeseburgers with our kids, and wish we could do it now.

Call Illinois government! A campaign called #toosmalltofail urges support for independent restaurants; Rick Bayless (among many other chefs; click on the hashtag at Instagram to see lots of them) tells you more here.

Tom Colicchio and other chefs nationally are advocating a restaurant bailout here.

The Illinois Restaurant Association also asks that you support Marco Rubio’s “Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act” by signing this petition.

Buy T-shirts and other goods from which 100% of proceeds go to Chicago hospitality workers, here.

If you’re in the restaurant industry, the biggest effort to date to feed workers has been set up at Big Star Wicker Park, starting Tuesday, organized by One Off Hospitality and The Lee Initiative. They plan to serve 250 dinners per night. Workers will need to show a pay stub or some other way of verifying recent employment; donations to help run the program are accepted here.


Some arbitrary mentions of restaurants I like that I’ve seen on social media—feel free to send me your info at [email protected]:

I like how Manny’s (Fooditor story here) is keeping its people employed in part by making meals for first responders here. Consider supporting them in that here.

Passerotto (Fooditor story here) has already evolved its model from takeout of their existing menu to doing full meals for reheating, as a better way to offer its cuisine. Read here; also Amy Cavanaugh talks about Passerotto and others offering meal kits here.

Munno is doing carry out! (Read this Fooditor piece to realize how surprising that is.) They’re giving a free orange with every takeout order. Why one orange? Read this, it’s sweet.

Galit (Fooditor story here) has a GoFundMe and you can get a T-shirt in return.

Damn, I planned to order Flat & Point after seeing a couple of people Instagramming dinner from there (and Nick Kindelsperger writing about it), but now I see they’ve already shut down takeout and have a GoFundMe instead.

One of my North Center neighborhood spots, Tuscan Hen Market, is doing comfy family meals— get on their email list at

Popular LGBTQ-friendly underground dining club Dinner at the Grotto and caterer Black Cat Kitchen cooked comfort food for 200 at Finom Coffee (look at the pic to see how improbable that is) and will do it again next week. I think this is where to go when they reopen orders.

Sarah Stegner (Prairie Grass Cafe) is offering free cooking advice, and she has tips for organizing your cooking in the linked piece by Anthony Todd as well.

Jimmy Bannos Sr. tells you how to make this big pot of pasta.

Chicago mag talks about restaurants helping get extra food to industry workers and other folks in need here.

So true. (h/t Won Kim)


I will be curious how the restaurant industry reacts, but it seems to me that the $100 million small business loan program proposed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot is a wrong answer, a version of the problem with gift cards writ large. All it does is say that at a time when you have no revenue coming in, you can borrow money to ensure that your landlords, your liquor distributors, and your city taxes get paid. So they get theirs backed by government, and you get deeper in the hole. This is a great bailout for big landlords who own where the restaurants sit (and have been the massive beneficiaries of the creativity of restaurants in making certain neighborhoods hot), but it is likely to be the death of our creative and varied restaurant scene.

If we’re really in a post-Rahm era and Mayor Lightfoot plans to be the mayor for the whole city, not just the big donors and downtown firms, she needs to come up with solutions that recognize that an industry sector frozen in place by her orders needs relief that freezes its obligations, too. This is the moment to do more than placate the big developers. If, that is, we want a city whose character, and opportunity for all who live here, is more than national chains in generic retail blocks—a Laughlin, Nevada on Lake Michigan.


Of course, suppliers are also suffering, from lack of restaurant customers to sell to. Greg O’Neill (Pastoral) talks about the situation for farmers here—I hope the answer he’s talking about, making it easy for farmers to drop off for buyers somewhere, comes along soon.

I can’t think of anyone more thoughtful about food to follow on Facebook at this point than farmer Greg Gunthorp (subject of this piece). Here he lays out the situation:

I believe we have a moral obligation to produce food if physically possible. I got the employees together Friday and told them I’ve spent my life advocating for local and regional food systems. We aren’t crawling in a hole. We are going to feed people. We are doing everything physically possible to stay healthy. I think on the back side of this event we will all have different conversations about medical supplies, medicine, basic domestic infrastructure, and FOOD production. Now is not the time for those discussions. We will have discussions on whether we are going to bail out huge corporations and the obligations we attach to those bailouts. Now is the time for those conversations. We are all going to change after this. Our communities, our country, and our world will change. Lets make it for the better!

I also liked this observation: “The dogs at the farm know something is up. The cats don’t have a clue.”

Like most coffee roasters, I expect, friend and sponsor of Fooditor Sparrow Coffee has seen its orders drop to nearly zero. So ace employee Jimmy MacFarland is running around town delivering it—I just got 3 lbs. for $50 from him, dropped off at my house. Support your favorite coffee roaster, tea merchant, bread baker, whatever!


First: go subscribe to Michael Nagrant’s new newsletter Love In the Time of Coronavirus, in which he profiles someone doing takeout in each edition. If you want to support it financially, the proceeds will go to Chicago Hospitality United and other groups helping hospitality workers. In any case, it’s well worth a read a couple of times a week.

WBEZ has a guide to safety protocols during shopping and eating. Most of them are, “Well, you could get it that way, but I wouldn’t worry about that.”

Eater Chicago launches a series talking to chefs and owners about how they are reacting to the situation. Erick Williams (Virtue) in the second edition: “I believe that our community is going to gel and we’re going to be better on the other side of this — more efficient, more communicative, more of a united voice. We haven’t had anything like this that’s brought the entire city together around our cause.”

If you had to guess which bar is trying to flout the law, endangering us all, which one would it be? Exactly, Richard’s Bar. Close that place down. (Eater)

Need soup recipes? There’s plenty on Martha Bayne’s Soup and Bread website (go to the search box toward the bottom and just put in any ingredient).


Steve Dolinsky doing his ABC 7 piece from his kitchen reminded me of the part in the Michael Keaton Batman where the TV people can’t use makeup (because the Joker has poisoned it). The still-well-groomed Dolinsky talks to some restaurateurs about the situation, including Johnny Clark of Wherwithall/Parachute: “Clark is visibly exhausted. He and his wife own two restaurants in the neighborhood — Wherewithall, known for its daily rotating tasting menu, as well as Parachute up the block, with its more Korean-leaning menu. Last week they had 52 employees. Today, just six.” Wherewithall, by the way, is doing a family meal that I’ve heard good things about (follow them on IG to see it), while Parachute is doing something similar, including variations on their Bing bread (again, go to IG).

Overserved talked to Mindy Segal, before the crisis.

I was on Amuzed talking about the impending crisis last weekend, though we were all, I think, shell-shocked. Anyway, Phillip Foss had some thoughtful thoughts, and Michael Muser manages some gallows humor.


Isla Pilipina—subject of this Fooditor piece two years ago—had already planned to close at the end of March, but having shifted to takeout for the remainder of the month, it takes the title of first notable restaurant that we will never sit down and eat at again. Meanwhile Eater reports that Vanille Patisserie’s Hyde Park location has closed as well.


Just some personal observations about shopping from the last few days: no bad thoughts for the staff, who seemed to be doing a great job under duress, but what made the Lakeview Whole Foods my most frustrating experience last week was the confluence of aisles clogged with people doing online shopping for others, and WF’s social-media-heavy customer base whipped into hysteria and buying out all kinds of things, often nonsensically. (Buy less pasta and more chickens, you need a chicken to cook now more than you need to buy rigatoni for September.) Add in the tone-deaf actions of Amazon management (a fundraiser for Whole Foods staff? How about the world’s richest man goes first?) and I’m done with them for the time being.

I’ve found the most success heading northwest from where I live, toward “ethnic” markets. Tony’s on Elston was jampacked and yet people seemed to be shopping purposefully, not randomly; the only thing they were really out of, everyone seems to be, is corn tortillas (flour you can find). Luckily my kids were on that. (I will also note that the Oaxacan cheese situation in Chicago has suddenly vastly improved—look for brands where ropes of cheese are rolled into a ball. They finally taste like what you find in Oaxaca and make excellent quickie quesadillas—in flour tortillas.)

Harvestime on Lawrence wasn’t even that jampacked and I found nearly everything I needed (except corn tortillas and some cleaning supplies). And this was really before the warnings hit last week, when one still strolled grocery stores in a leisurely manner, but Fresh Farms in Niles was actually a pleasure—I had corned beef to make and picked up great Lithuanian rye bread for reubens and other fresh-baked breads, and found all kinds of curios from cultures around the world, which I’ve been playing with. If you can’t get Rancho Gordo beans, may I suggest looking in the Greek aisle at Fresh Farms? There’s a whole line of Greek dried beans that look really nice.

This Fooditor piece talked about where to shop in Chicago.


A piece from Monday, when you could still go to restaurants: John Kessler on Taqueria Amigo Chino. “Fancy some tampiqueña? Then please enjoy a groaning board ($26.95) piled with not one, not two, but three entire skirt steaks. They arrive heaped like sandbags alongside enough rice, refritos, and guacamole to feed Peoria.” Sounds like a dream.

Another reminder of the ways things used to be: Sandwich Tribunal explores the varieties (not 57) of Mild Sauce, just before everything got closed on us, and taste-tests four mild sauces against each other: “The sauce itself is variable–some combination of BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, perhaps some Worcestershire or additional sugar–and while some chains may distribute their own centrally manufactured versions of it, other shops will make it in-house at individual locations. The mild sauce you get one day at one place is unlikely to be the same as the mild sauce you get somewhere else the next day.”


I ordered from Jeong and especially liked that they brought back their Hanbun menu from when they were in the mall in Westmont. Sorry to Jennifer that the only pic I took caught her with her eyes closed. As Dave said, they were working all night, so maybe that’s fitting. Anyway, nice to taste those funky Korean flavors again. My next order is probably going to be Daisies. What’s yours?

Sparrow Black 2019