On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago, marking her first official trip to the city since she was sworn into office in January. Though she made the trip to address the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and President Joe Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package, Harris made time for cake at a Chicago favorite: Brown Sugar Bakery, chef and owner Stephanie Hart’s 17-year-old sweets shop in Chatham.
“I was not there but I’m flying high with the honor that she intentionally visited Brown Sugar Bakery,” Hart tells Eater in a text message. “She commented that she liked our board walk. It is outrageously RAD.”
Harris picked up a slice of German chocolate cake at the bakery at 328 E. 75th Street. It was a thrilling moment for staff and Hart, who wasn’t present to meet the vice president herself. Harris isn’t the only politician to indulge in Brown Sugar’s creations. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has previously praised its caramel cake, which has become one of the shop’s most well-known items.
Despite the many obstacles caused by the pandemic, Hart has remained ambitious and upbeat about her ability to keep her small business viable. She told Eater in March 2020 that she was hopeful and felt confident that Chicago’s community of restaurant owners could come together and support one another.
Perhaps Harris’ visit to 75th Street will encourage the city to expand its outdoor dining program to the area. 75th Street is full of restaurants like Lem’s Bar-B-Q, Soul Vegetarian, Harold’s Chicken Shack, and 5 Loaves Eatery. Despite that lineup, the city could not make the pandemic program work in 2020 to include the area.
And in other news…
— Chicago officials last week unanimously voted to grant preliminary landmark status to the the former home of La Lucé Italian Restaurant in West Loop. The restaurant closed in 2016 and sold 129-year-old building after 27 years in business. Urbanize Chicago has details.
— Daisies owner Joe Frillman appeared on CNN this week to explain the challenges restaurants face while awaiting their share of $28 billion in relief grants for struggling hospitality businesses passed in March by the Senate. Frillman tells CNN the funds enable Daisies to survive until October. Without the money, the Logan Square restaurant would only have funds to make it until May.
— Kinton Ramen, the Canadian chain for Japanese noodles and izakaya-style snacks, will reopen is Wicker Park restaurant on April 22 for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to a rep. While the restaurant’s remained boarded up since 2020, Kinton’s other Chicago location reopened in February in West Loop.
— Lake Effect Brewing Company is moving forward with plans to open a taproom inside a 115-year-old vacant firehouse in Jefferson Park, marking the end of a legal battle, according to the Tribune. The brewery, which will include an outdoor patio, could move in to the space by the end of 2021. Ald. (45th Ward) James Gardnier has been embroiled in controversy over the project.
— Boozy boat tours are back in Chicago just as locals are running outside to soak up some warm springtime weather. City Cruises, the rebranded cruising program from travel company Hornblower Group, is letting customers climb aboard its fleet of yachts to drink, eat, and survey the city skyline from the water, according to a rep. Staff will enforce COVID-19 protocols including masks and social distancing. More details and reservations are available online.