WEST LOOP — Often referred to the city’s culinary mecca, the West Loop is home to an impressive lineup of restaurants — but it also features a growing retail scene.
Over the last few months, coronavirus restrictions have put a damper on the often bustling neighborhood. Community groups including West Central Association and West Loop Community Organization worked to make way for outdoor dining as part of the city’s pilot during the summer months along Randolph and Fulton Market streets.
Most recently, West Central Association (WCA) partnered with Anheuser-Busch for the Dining Together, Apart — an initiative where igloos and greenhouse-style pods came to Fulton Market to help “keep businesses afloat,” WCA President Armando Chacon said at the time.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said restaurants are struggling in the face of the new statewide coronavirus restrictions and no federal help for months.
“It’s a very touch-and-go situation…I think everyone is trying to do what they can to survive,” Burnett said.
That’s certainly the case for Alex Theoharis.
After the first stay-at-home order, Theoharis, owner of Ground Up Coffee, removed the tables from his coffee shops and put in shelves to provide some specialty grocery items to nearby residents.
Now months after pivoting, Theoharis acknowledges community members have allowed his business to stay afloat, noting the coffee shop model was “unsustainable” during the pandemic.
“I believe now more than ever it’s important [to support local businesses],” he said.
As you start your holiday shopping, here are some West Loop businesses to consider. If you want your local shop to be featured, please fill out the Google form at the bottom of this page. We’ll gladly add it to our list.
Cat & Mouse Games, 1112 W. Madison St., Website
For those who have blown through their Netflix lists, perhaps a puzzle or some games might help your family and pod mates pass the time during the holidays.
Perhaps solving a murder? Try Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Thames Murders ($49.99). Or take an adventure? EL: The Chicago Transit Adventure Game ($39.99).
In-store shopping hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends Private shopping appointments can be scheduled by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. 312-465-2178.
Shipping for online orders is free for purchases over $100. Orders under $100 include a $6 flat shipping fee in Illinois.
Ground Up Coffee, 900 W. Van Buren Ave., Website
Instead of a Starbucks gift card, give the caffeine lover on your list a blend of Ground Up Coffee.
People can order items such as their whole beans in light, medium or dark roasts, or espresso blends ($17.50- $18) for pickup or delivery at their West Loop coffee bar on Van Buren. You can place an order via Ritual.
Ground Up is open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends. 312-374-1348.
Kumiko, 630 W. Lake St., Website
For those on your list who enjoy rare Japanese spirits or specialized cocktails, Kumiko, which was named one of the best bars in the world, has you covered.
Browse the expansive list to find special gifts, such as whiskeys and vodka from Nikka Whiskey Distilling ($50-$150), candles from Brooklyn Candle Studio ($30-$50), and ochoko, or small cups specifically for sipping sake ($5-$8).
Hours vary for pickup orders. Check the website for hours. 312-285-2912 or email@example.com.
Madison Street Books, 1127 W Madison St., Website
Opened amid the first wave of the pandemic, Madison Street Books offers eclectic books for avid readers.
Current best-sellers include Tana French’s The Searcher ($27) to Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country ($16.99).
Among new releases are The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coats ($18) and President Barack Obama’s latest memoir A Promised Land ($45).
Madison Street Books is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.
In-store shopping is limited to four shoppers at a time (25 percent capacity). Shoppers can order online for curbside pickup. 312-929-4140.
The Fig Tree, 1037 W. Madison St., Website
Have a family or friend with a new baby? Give them a gift of a cheeky Day Drinker onesie ($24.95) at The Fig Tree. They have a couple of options and a host of adorable gifts for the tiny humans in your life.
You’ll also find some cool socks, Joe Exotic/Tiger King ornaments and other “cool sh-t.”
The Fig Tree is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Curbside pickup and shipping is available. 312-226-6303.
Tribeca Boutique, 1035 W. Madison St., Website
From at home chic attire to a speckled front tie Midi dress ($64), Tribeca Boutique offers an assortment of women’s clothing, accessories, women clothes, accessories and inexpensive protective face masks.
Tribeca Boutique is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-p.m. Sundays. Curbside pickup is available two hours after placing an order during business hours. 312-492-9373.
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