NORTH LAWNDALE — Recent looting and fires delayed some West Side businesses from reopening after the coronavirus shutdown, but some are starting to open their doors.
The unrest in recent weeks after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis felt like history repeating itself for some business owners. Many of the Jewish-owned businesses in Lawndale and Garfield Park were burned down or were irreparably damaged during the riots following the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and the area never fully recovered.
Local chambers of commerce in Austin, Garfield Park and Lawndale are assessing damages and coordinating resources to help businesses stay open.
Though the shutdown is over, businesses on the West Side are exercising caution as they reopen. Some shops impacted by looting have brought on added security to protect their businesses. Customers must wear masks while patronizing businesses. Many business owners have shifted to appointment-only or limited hours to gradually invite customers back.
Here are some of the West Side businesses welcoming back customers:
Food-4-Less, 4821 W. North Ave.
Much of the West Side is considered to be a food desert, and Food-4-Less is one of the few supermarkets in Austin. The discount grocery store was damaged and looted in the riots fueled by the anger at persistent police violence on the West Side, and Food-4-Less had to close.
But the supermarket has been repaired and restocked and has reopened. The store is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, with a special hour reserved for seniors at 8 a.m. daily.
“We are very excited about the return of daily operations by FOOD-4-LESS to the Washington Square Mall, bringing critically needed food resources back to our north Austin community,” said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th).
Gone Again Travel & Tours, 5940 W. Chicago Ave.
The West Side’s first Black-owned brick-and-mortar travel agency has reopened by appointment only. Those looking to plan a trip can consult with owner Crystal Dyer to plan a vacation by going to the website to schedule an appointment.
Principle Barbershop, 3820 W. Ogden Ave.
Those eager to get a haircut after months shut in at home can get a buzz from one of the slickest barbers on the West Side at Principle Barbershop. Visit the website to make an appointment.
Farm on Ogden, 3555 W. Ogden Ave.
West Siders can get low-cost fresh fruits and veggies at the Farm on Ogden. The fresh produce market has reopened with limited hours: noon-6 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Shoppers using SNAP benefits can get twice as much produce as those using cash.
The Green Tomato Café, 3750 W. Ogden Ave.
One of the only cafes on the West Side of Chicago has reopened thanks to its spacious patio. The cafe’s smoothies, sandwiches, salads and pastries are also available for takeout.
Al’s Under the L, 2908 W. Lake St.
Al’s is a fast food favorite that shut down temporarily due to the pandemic. The restaurant is back, serving Chicago-style polishes, hot dogs, burgers and fries to go.
Creed on Lake, 2806 W. Lake St.
Creed on Lake is open for takeout and dine-in. Dine-in space is limited, so the staff recommends calling ahead to reserve one of the two outdoor tables. Diners are required to wear a mask.
The restaurant is a local favorite for its Mississippi Delta spin on soul food classics.
MP Mall, Madison Street and Pulaski Road
Many of the shops at the MP Mall were severely vandalized and looted. Some of the stores planning to reopen for Phase 3 have been delayed.
But foot traffic is returning to the strip mall as some of the shops are preparing to reopen, including Smart Choice Apparel and DJ Fashion.
Tops and Bottoms at the MP Mall is expected to reopen Monday, with a limit of up to five people in the store at a time.
The historic Out of the Past Record Store is also reopening, though with limited hours.
Paradise Collections has reopened with added security following the riots. The clothing shop was hit by looters, but the main part of the shop was not impacted.
“A lot of businesses are hurt around me, way more than I have,” said manager Roy Iqbal. “The businesses that got hit, they have not been able to reopen yet.”
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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