LINCOLN PARK — A Lincoln Park restaurant has closed after the city yanked its license amid a battle between the owner, neighbors and officials over if it was a nightclub or an eatery.
Owner Rashad Bailey opened Dinner and a Movie last year at 2500 N. Ashland Ave., looking to create a restaurant to “celebrate Black birthday parties and Black love,” he said. But neighbors complained about noise and fights there, and there was gunfire outside the restaurant in June 2021.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection revoked Dinner and a Movie’s business license Friday, a spokesperson said. The closure was first reported by CWB Chicago.
The decision came after a months-long legal battle. The business department found Dinner and a Movie operated as a tavern, not the restaurant it’s supposed to be, and “failed to take reasonable steps to correct nuisance conditions,” the spokesperson said.
But Bailey said his business has been “targeted” by police and people who do not want a lively Black restaurant in a majority white neighborhood.
Dinner and a Movie had only been open for a day when police started showing up, Bailey said. Officers harassed the business by dropping by unannounced in large numbers, “walking the restaurant all the way to the kitchen” and sending in undercover investigators, Bailey said.
A viral video from July 2021 showed police responding to a complaint about Dinner and a Movie only to find the restaurant empty.
The city’s business department started investigating the business shortly after it opened for selling liquor beyond its license, Bailey said. At the time, city officials revoked Dinner and a Movie’s privileges to serve lunch and operate past midnight, Bailey said.
Yelp reviews for Dinner and a Movie say the restaurant served a minimal menu, had security pat-downs at the entrance and charged a cover fee. But Bailey said he had a “reservation minimum” of $10-$20 for buying an appetizer, and he offered a full menu. There were security pat-downs, he said.
Baily also alleged neighbors made phony 911 calls because of the restaurant’s large Black customer base.
Bailey said he’s “done fighting” over the restaurant and he’ll leave Chicago.
“This is racism,” Bailey said. “They’re putting crime and the problems of the city on me. … They see Black music, Black people, and they think that’s the problem.”
Police shut down Dinner and a Movie for a week after a June 27, 2021, fight inside the business spilled to the streets and a man fired 17 shots. There have been fights since that have led to arrests, Bailey said.
But Bailey bulked up security to eight armed guards on Saturdays, five on Fridays and three on the weeknights, he said. The business is not to blame for “the gun problem in Black Chicago,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he is understanding of neighbors who’ve called about fights and people loitering outside on weekends. But police have responded slowly when Dinner and a Movie flagged concerns, and officers have more actively patrolled around white-owned businesses in the area, Bailey said.
“There’s so many Black people who come here who are happy, hardworking, and then you get the few motherf—ers who are crazy,” Bailey said. “But I’m trying to solve the problem, and you’re just telling me to get out.”
A police spokesperson said the department “works closely with the business community to enhance safety in business corridors across the city. We strive to treat all individuals and businesses fairly, but will enforce the law when crime is occurring.”
The business department spokesperson said the agency could not directly answer questions about their investigation “due to pending litigation.”
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) did not return calls.
The police need to step up and deter crime near businesses, especially those that are prone to becoming hot spots, Bailey said.
“Police are either too aggressive or they show up late because they have a logistics problem. And when police don’t show up, you have to plan for the worst. That’s a fact in Chicago. We need emergency services to do their job,” Bailey said. “Instead, the police say, ‘We can’t solve the problem,’ so they put the problem on the businesses.”
Segregation in Chicago continues when Black entrepreneurs can’t keep businesses and create wealth in white areas, Bailey said.
Bailey expects a similar restaurant to soon take over Dinner and a Movie’s space, he said.
“Some white person is going to take my business, probably not change the setup and make money for the next 40 years,” Bailey said. “They get fines, warnings, and we get the death penalty.”
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