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Parlor Pizza Owners Opening Tex-Mex Restaurant In West Loop In The Midst Of Labor And Discrimination Investigations

Texan Taco Bar opened this week on Randolph Street. It's operating through a separate company from Parlor Pizza, which is being investigated.

The owners of Parlor Pizza (left) are opening a new taco bar (right) while agencies still investigate.
Colin Boyle / Instagram
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WEST LOOP — The owners of Parlor Pizza, a Chicago chain raided last year and facing investigations, have opened a restaurant in the West Loop a few blocks from one of their pizza spots. 

Texan Taco Bar opened Tuesday at 942 W. Randolph St., according to its Instagram page. Parlor Pizza owners Michael Bisbee and Tim Hendricks are behind the restaurant, which was announced in 2017 but dealt with delays due to the pandemic, according to Eater.

As the restaurant opens, officials with the city’s business department are still “gathering evidence and negotiating with attorneys” with Parlor Pizza over allegations of sexual harassment, not paying employees for overtime and discrimination against customers, a city spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. 

The investigation launched after former Parlor employees spoke out about working conditions, saying non-white customers were seated in areas they called “rejection sections” or in less visible sections at the River North and Wicker Park locations. Workers from all three Parlor restaurants also said they were harassed, not paid for overtime and overworked.

RELATED: “Parlor Pizza Sat Customers Of Color In ‘Rejection Section,’ Overworked Staff Without Pay, Former Employees Allege”

Parlor has denied those claims.

“We firmly dispute these serious allegations and the blatantly false picture being painted of our restaurants, how we operate them and how we treat our valued employees and customers,” a spokesperson said at the time.

Texan Taco Bar is filed under a different company than the ones related to Parlor Pizza, the city spokesperson said. Active investigations into one company do not stop restaurateurs from operating other, separate companies, the spokesperson said.

In a statement, representatives for Parlor Pizza and Texan Taco Bar said the restaurant owners “pride ourselves on creating a welcoming environment for all of our guests because diversity, equity and inclusion are part of our core values. We have a zero tolerance non-discrimination policy.”

The new restaurant offers picturesque views of the skyline with an open rooftop, they said.

“We take pride in the quality of our service, ingredients and consistency, whether that be one of our famous fresh-squeezed margaritas, our signature specialty tacos or the TexMex favorites scratch-made in our kitchens every day,” according to the representatives.

Texan Taco Bar is open 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-midnight Sunday.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Investigators inside Parlor’s Wicker Park location.

All three Parlor locations were shut down in a raid for two days in October. Police officers said they were investigating on behalf of the state’s revenue department, whose representatives declined to comment at the time. 

In addition to harassment and mistreatment of customers, former Parlor employees also described working without pay, or being told to roll silverware in napkins for hours after clocking out of their shifts. Parlor Pizza has twice settled lawsuits with former employees for refusing to pay overtime wages, according to court documents. 

Parlor Pizza opened its West Loop location at 108 N. Green St. in 2014 and expanded to Wicker Park, 1824 W. Division St., and River North, 405 N. Dearborn St. All three locations remain open as the investigations continue. 

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