Also, a South Side restaurant introduces the Yerminator burger
After her name trended Saturday night on social media with rumors, Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded Sunday morning, tweeting that she has no plans to leave office. Lightfoot, whose four-year term expires in 2023, wrote “our city doesn’t have any time for homophobic, racist, and misogynistic rumors.”
There is a restaurant connection when it comes to who’s next in line if Lightfoot departs. The vice mayor, who is appointed by the city council, is next in the line of succession and would serve on an interim basis. And since 2020, Ald. (44th Ward) Tom Tunney has been Chicago’s vice mayor.
Tunney owns Ann Sather, the 75-year-old Lakeview restaurant best known for its cinnamon rolls. Tunney is also a former chair of the Illinois Restaurant Association, and has a reputation in working with restaurant owners. But most recently, the alderman came under fire after a blogger posted photos in December showing his restaurant was ignoring COVID-19 safety protocols by allowing indoor dining at a team when the state had halted the practice.
Many restaurant owners who properly followed those state mandates were angry that while they kept their dining rooms closed, Tunney, an elected official and policy maker — the one credited in shaping the city’s restrictions on food trucks — was generating revenue for his business. The alderman would apologize and ended up paying a $2,000 fine. Tunney has not commented on the Lightfoot rumors.
Lightfoot’s critics have increased their calls for her resignation after the city released footage of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. One of those critics, an activist who helped spread the resignation rumors, wrote via Twitter he was sorry for his part in churning the rumor mill. Ja’Mal Green, a former mayoral candidate, was also involved in a 2019 lawsuit accusing a downtown restaurant of anti-Black behavior.
During the pandemic, Lightfoot didn’t have a chance to take the stage at the James Beard Awards, something her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, did annually. The show was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, and normally takes place at the Lyric Opera House. While Lightfoot deals with rumors, the National Restaurant Association announced Emanuel as the first keynote speaker at its policy affairs virtual show scheduled for Tuesday, April 20.
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls Twitter rumors ‘homophobic, racist and misogynistic,’ indicates she is not resigning [Tribune]
And in other news…
— Fast food giant McDonald’s will require all 39,000 restaurants around the world to train employees on harassment, discrimination, violence, and safety by January 2022, according to Restaurant Business. The chain has seen numerous lawsuits in recent years, including several from Black franchisees who allege systemic racism inside the company. In February, four current and former employees shared stories of sexual harassment they allegedly experienced while working at McDonald’s on CBS Sunday Morning.
— Two top executives at Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism arm, are leaving the group just on the cusp of a summer that could make or break local industries in crisis. CEO David Whitaker’s contract will expire in July (board members announced this month that they won’t renew) and COO Marc Anderson will leave next month to become president and CEO of Texas-based tourism group Visit San Antonio. Crain’s has more.
— Fabulous Freddie’s in Bridgeport is cashing in on the fast start of a new Chicago White Sox player. The Italian-American joint has introduced the “Yerminator,” a Dominican chimichurri burger named after Yermín Mercedes, a 28-year-old rookie. He’s been a star for the South Siders, showing off unbridled enthusiasm while bashing the baseball. He started the season with hits in eight-consecutive at bats.
— Chicago Food Mag (@ChicagoFoodMag) April 15, 2021
— Kimberly-Clark, the parent company behind brands like Kleenex and Huggies diapers, plans by spring 2022 to relocate its North American business hub from Neenah, Wisconsin to Fulton Market — and bring with it 250 jobs, according to a news release. More downtown workers is always good news for restaurants, especially as tourism and commuter numbers have hit bottom during the pandemic. The Sun-Times has more details.
— Pastry chef Felicia Mayden of Chicago’s Ace Hotel will be one of 10 chefs to compete for $25,000 and bragging rights on the latest season of Food Network reality competition show Best Baker In America, according to a rep. This season will focus on the most creative versions of classic American regional desserts like Key Lime pie, and “Kentucky May Day piecaken.” The show is slated to premiere at 8 p.m. Monday, May 3.