News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Chant

Shop and celebrate local – Hyde Park businesses turn up the romance for Valentine’s Day

Hyde Parkers who want to stay close to home for Valentine’s Day shopping and celebrating will have lots of options on 53rd Street to make it a holiday to remember for their sweethearts.

CARDS/GIFTS/CANDY

Kilwinshas a wide assortment of candy and chocolates perfect for gift-giving. Valentine’s Day specials include chocolate-dipped long stem strawberries – six for $30 and 12 for $55 in milk, dark, or white chocolate. 5226 S. Harper Avenue.

NoteworthyNotesin addition to a selection of Valentine’s Day cards, NoteworthyNotes also has great gift options for everyone on your list, including cookies, socks, books, pillows, candles, and more. The store also offers same-day printing on select personalized items – even if you’ve waited till the last minute, you can look extra thoughtful with a monogrammed cocktail shaker, travel mug, journal, stationery, and more. Personalization is also available with more notice on pens, flashlights, phone cases, and clipboards. 5231 S. Harper Court.

Modern Cooperative look to Modern Cooperative for a selection of unique jewelry and cards for your honey. 1500 E. 53rd Street.

The Silver Room – with a great collection of jewelry, records, t-shirts, backpacks, hats, and sunglasses, you’re sure to find something special for your Valentine. Or consider a gift certificate for The Silver Room’s in-store massage therapist. 1506 E. 53rd Street.

Jojayden – if your beau or male sweetheart has an eye for fashion, you’ll want to check out Jojayden’s custom-made suits and shoes, and accessories including watches, cufflinks, bracelets, belts, socks, and more. 1457 E. 53rd Street.

Sir & Madame – shop for “classic with a twist” clothing, shoes, and accessories from the store’s namesake clothing label. 5225 S. Harper Court.

Freehling Pot and Pan Co. – keep the little ones busy and come home with delicious cupcakes at Freehling Pot and Pan’s free Valentine's Cupcake Decorating Workshop on Saturday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The workshop is for children aged 5 and up accompanied by an adult, with all materials provided. 1365 E. 53rd Street.

DINING

A10 – is offering a Valentine’s Day a la carte menu or Couples Bar Special ($35 for half bottle of Champagne and choice of two snacks). The menu includes a choice of Clam Chowder or Fritto Misto and special dinners for two – “Lady and the Tramp” Squid Ink Bucatini for $30, Whole Roasted Branzino for $45, or 22-ounce Bone-In Ribeye with Lobster and Sweet Potato Hash and Truffle Béarnaise for $65. Specials are available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. Call 773-288-1010 for reservations. 1462 E. 53rd Street.

Chantstop by for a before or after dinner drink on Valentine’s Day. The restaurant is offering drink specials including a PAMA Belvedere Martini for $6.00, a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir for $6.00, and a glass Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne for $8.00, along with a complimentary long-stem tuxedo strawberry dessert. Specials are available from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on February 14. 1509 E. 53rd Street.

Ja’ Grillget the night started with Ja’ Grill’s complimentary rum tasting from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday night, featuring Captain Morgan rums. Guest Host Jeremy Geiger will be sampling Cannon Blast and Loconut rum. Be sure to try the $7 Classic Daiquiri made with Captain Morgan Cannon Blast. All customers with reservations that night will receive a bottle of select bottle of wine or sparkling wine (per couple). 1510 E. Harper Court.

Porkchop – offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $33 per person, including the choice of any appetizer, soup or salad, and 14 different entrées; along with a deep-fried brownie dessert. Entrée options include Southern Fried Chicken, Slow Smoked BBQ Chicken, Blackened Catfish Filet, burgers, ribs, and more. The menu is available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. 1516 E. Harper Court.

The Promontoryenjoy a romantic dinner and a show at The Promontory on Tuesday, February 14. The second floor concert hall will host the “Valentine’s Day Love and Laughter” concert featuring R&B vocalist Michel’le, along with Just Nesh, Da Wild Cat, BLT, and Gemini Porter, while the first-floor restaurant will offer two prix fixe dining specials. Executive chef Andrew Graves will offer two tasting menus with tailored options:

  • 5:30 p.m. Seating - For lovebirds looking to attend the Michel’e concert at 7 p.m., Graves has created a three-course menu with dessert to go for $45. Offerings include Hearth Grilled Asparagus, Boneless Lamb Loin for two, and Pomegranate-Macadamia Cupcakes guests can take upstairs with them to enjoy during the concert. A package ticket including dinner and the concert is also available for $85 per person.
  • 7:30 p.m. Seating - This expanded five-course tasting menu includes two additional courses, including Capital Oysters on the half shell and salmon and mussels with celery root, mustard, confit potato, and tarragon butter. The dinner costs $65 per person with an optional wine pairing available for an additional $25.  

The Promontory will not offer the regular menu or accept walk-ins on February 14; reservations can be made here. 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue.

Yusho – offering a special “Lover's Meal” for $25 per person, featuring an Octopus Takoyaki Steam Bun, BBQ Brisket Ramen, Miso Chocolate Brownie, and a glass of Cava. A Shrimp Skewer ($5) or Lobster Tail ($10) are available as additional options. The special menu is available from Friday through Tuesday, February 10-14. Visit Yusho for your Valentine's Day meal and receive a complimentary Matcha-dusted chocolate to share with your special someone. 1301 E. 53rd Street.

ACTIVITIES

If you and your sweetie like to work out together, Core Power Yoga is hosting special Couples Yoga classes for Valentine's Day. Come by Friday, February 10 for a 6 p.m. class; Saturday, February 11 for a 10:30 a.m. class; or Wednesday, February 15 at 6 a.m. for an "Old Soul Flow" class. If you're both R&B fans stop in for special classes on Sunday, February 12 at 9:30 a.m. or Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. Drop in rate is $25 per person or $22 for UChicago students, faculty, and staff. 1539 E. 53rd Street, Suite 2N.

Hyde Park businesses give Valentine’s Day couples a reason to celebrate

With Valentine’s Day next Sunday, February 14 – it’s the perfect time to start planning your gifts and celebrations. There will be no lack of romance in Hyde Park with several restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues offering special menus, gifts, and events for couples (and singles!) looking for a memorable holiday and night on the town.

Dining

For couples wanting to celebrate throughout the entire weekend, A10 Hyde Park at 1462 E. 53rd Street, The Promontory at 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, Chant at 1509 E. 53rd Street, and Porkchop at 1516 E. Harper Court are all offering special menus and events from Friday, February 12, through Sunday, February 14.

A10 is offering a three-course tasting menu with optional wine pairing, a couple’s bar special, and beverage and brunch specials. The tasting menu is $65 per person with an optional $30 wine pairing and the bar special is $50 per couple with a half bottle of Champagne and choice of snacks. Call 773-288-1010 for reservations.

The Promontory has planned a three-course tasting menu for $45 per person with grilled oysters, strip steak, and chocolate dacquoise dessert. Their special “Cocktail for 2” features fresh strawberries, cream de cacao, vodka, fresh lemon, and sparkling wine for $14. Call 312-801-2100 for reservations.

Chant is featuring a 28-ounce double-cut, heart-shaped rib-eye steak with grilled asparagus, mashed potatoes and Béarnaise sauce, with one complimentary lava cake for $35 per person. After dinner from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., stay and enjoy music by the Chester McSwain Jazz Band on Friday, February 12; and DJ Night House Music on Saturday, February 13.  Call 773-324-1999 for reservations.

Porkchop has created a special Valentine’s Day menu with your choice of appetizer, soup or salad, entrée, and deep-fried brownie dessert for $33 per person. For any singles dining alone, Porkchop is offering 50% off all regularly priced menu items, not including the Valentine’s Day menu. Call 773-493-9333 for reservations.

Ja’ Grill, at 1510 E. Harper Court, is celebrating all day long on Sunday, with a 50% discount on bottles of wine before 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., couples will receive a free bottle of Champagne or wine with entrée orders. For those dining solo after 5 p.m., Ja’ Grill will treat you to a free glass of Champagne, wine, or beer. Click here for more information.

Gifts

Kilwins, at 5226 S. Harper Avenue, is the perfect destination for all your Valentine’s Day sweets. Stop by for chocolate-dipped strawberries, gift baskets, boxed chocolates, chocolate hearts and truffles, and fudge. Shoppers who spend more than $50 will receive a coupon for a complimentary half-pound of fudge on their next visit with purchase, valid from February 15-29.

NoteworthyNotes, at 5231 S. Harper Court, is offering one free greeting card with any three cards purchased in February, as well as a raffle for a gallon container of delicious cookies valued at $40 – the winner will be selected on February 13. Stop in now to order their many items ready for personalization for a truly unique gift, or for procrastinators, the store will be open on Valentine’s Day from 12-5 p.m.

Entertainment

The new Hyde Park improv comedy club, The Revival, at 1160 E. 55th Street, is presenting “Love Is...” – a night of stand up comedy, games and music. “Couples will laugh and singles will mingle! Join your host, Doc Love, and four of Chicago's best comics for a night to remember!” The performance takes place on Sunday, February 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets $10 or $5 with student ID, and can be ordered by phone at 866-811-4111 or online here. If you’re celebrating on Friday or Saturday, The Revival has shows those nights as well – click here for the full calendar of events.

The Silver Room, at 1506 E. 53rd Street, is hosting SoulSessions, a live music open jam, with "no cover and no covers" on Sunday, February 14, from 7-10 p.m.

Don’t miss the Party Noire Valentine’s Day party at The Promontory on Friday, February 14, from 12-6 p.m. with a $10 cover charge. Tickets for the party are available here.

Faces of 53rd Street: Aldo Rojas and Steven Rife

By Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

If you walk into Chant restaurant at any time of day, you will most likely witness scenes of hugging and kissing and customers being served without looking at the menu. That’s because Chant is more than a restaurant. For regular customers, it’s an extension of their home. “We have a strong relationship with our customers. They are like family,” explains general manager Aldo Rojas.

It’s this personal connection, as well as the carefully prepared Asian fusion cuisine, that has helped Chant become a popular and longstanding destination on 53rd Street. “We’re here to do business and create long-lasting relationships,” says executive chef Steven Rife, who is known to many Chant patrons as simply Chef Steven.

Chant, at 1509 E. 53rd Street, offers intriguing blends of influences, serving up dishes like braised short rib poutine and duck tacos for a global fusion of flavors. But aside from the artful creations, the restaurant is noted for fresh, mostly organic ingredients.

“So many restaurants think that it’s expensive to do wholesome, fresh ingredients but it’s not,” says Rife. “The most important thing in a restaurant is the customer’s enjoyment, and the food is a big part of that.”

The other part is ambiance and customer service, which Chant also supplies with a bright, Asian-themed decor and an ingratiating staff.  The restaurant attracts new customers from all over the city but regulars make up the core of its clientele. “We love Hyde Park and we love our customers,” says Rojas. “We have people who, if they don’t come every day, they come every other day.”

Rojas arrived at Chant in 2011 and Rife in 2013. Both men are 37 years old and started their restaurant careers at 15, and both recognized the importance of catering to customers’ needs. Rojas started at La Pasadita, a popular Wicker Park restaurant and went on to work at Phil Stefani’s Signature restaurants and Harborside International Golf Center, managing banquets and catering. Rife worked as executive sous chef at the Museum of Contemporary Art under Wolfgang Puck, and later as Executive Chef at Red Canary and Ristorante Al Teatro.

While Rojas lives in Portage Park and Rife lives in the South Loop, both are regular fixtures in Hyde Park. Rojas enjoys going to the Promontory and checking out new restaurants at Harper Court with his girlfriend. During the summer, Rife loves to relax at the close of his day in the nature preserve at the end of 53rd Street, and he also frequents the music fests in Nichols Park.

Both Rojas and Rife believe that their focus on connecting with residents and offering a welcoming spot for entertainment, years before there were other options, have helped spur Hyde Park’s revitalization.

“We really started the nightlife scene on 53rd,” Rojas said, referencing the live bands that the restaurant has hosted every weekend since 2011. “We don’t have a cover and customers don’t have to drive all the way downtown. We wanted to keep our customers in Hyde Park and not risk drinking and driving.” 

Featuring live jazz, blues and Latin jazz bands as well as a house music DJ every other Saturday (check the music schedule at www.chantchicago.com), Chant draws a packed house on weekends. “Sometimes our waitlist is up to an hour on Fridays and we’ll have 500 people in here on busy nights,” Rojas says.

As pioneers of the renewed energy on 53rd, Rojas and Rife are excited to see the expansion of the entire community. “When I started, we were the main local place,” recalls Rife. “When other places started popping up, people worried about what would happen to Chant.  Well, what happened was we increased our business as more people are coming to Hyde Park. We’re enjoying the growth and we’re thankful for our customers that are growing and expanding with us.”

Ten Hyde Park restaurants to participate in June 9 Dinner Crawl

The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Dinner Crawl takes place on Tuesday, June 9.

The annual event features 10 local restaurants including A10 Hyde Park, Chant, Clarke’s Diner, Ja’ Grill, Kilwins, Mellow Yellow Restaurant, Native Foods, Porkchop, Rajun Cajun, and ZBerry Frozen Yogurt & Treats.

The crawl begins at 5:30 pm. starting from The Silver Room, and continues until 9 p.m.

Tickets are $35 each, or $25 when purchased online by June 8 at www.hydeparkchamberchicago.org/crawl.

53rd Street restaurants offer Mother’s Day specials

Mother’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday, May 10, and several 53rd Street area restaurants are planning special events to help you celebrate your mom – and all the important mothers in your life – in style all day and evening long.

A10, at 1462 E. 53rd Street, will be hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch, for $35 per person and $15 for kids aged 10 and under. Mom will enjoy an assortment of sweets for the table as well as a choice of five different entrees. For reservations, call 773-288-1010.

Chant, at 1509 E. 53rd Street, is offering a Mother’s Day Brunch special with queen cut prime rib for $25, or king cut prime rib for $30. Both entrees are served with Parmesan smashed potatoes and sweet corn succotash, and a complimentary dessert of fresh berry Zabaione. For reservations, call 773-324-1999.

Porkchop, at 1516 E. Harper Court, is offering a “Complimentary Brunch for Mom” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Diners will receive one complimentary brunch entrée for one mom per table. For reservations, call 773-493-9333.

The Promontory, at 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue, is starting the day with special additions to its regular brunch menu, including smoked salmon roe deviled eggs, blue crab soufflé, and Basque cake. Singer Tecora Rogers will be performing jazz standards in a 3 p.m. show at the Promontory’s upstairs music venue. The dinner menu features a grilled Maine lobster special, and the evening concert will be Zemrah’s Songs of Love. Drink specials include “Cookies & Cream” with house-made brown butter rum, “Roots & Malt” with house-made root beer, and “Queen for a Day,” which includes a half bottle of Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and 2 for 1 standing room tickets for the 7 p.m. concert. For more information, visit http://promontorychicago.com/mothers-day/.

53rd Street Shops Are Ready for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is on Saturday, February 14, and restaurants and retail stores on 53rd Street are offering a variety of specials and gift options to help couples celebrate in Hyde Park. Here is a list of some of the offerings.

A10, 1466 E. 53rd Street – Three-course special dinner menu for $65/person. For reservations call 773-288-1010.

Anastasia, 1500 E. 53rd Street – Many new designs in stock, with emphasis on unique dresses.

Chant, 1509 E. 53rd Street – Three-course, shared “Lovers Portion” dinner menu for $65/couple with live music from 8-11 p.m. by the Contraband Latin Jazz Band. For reservations call 773-324-1999.

Ja’ Grill, 1510 E. Harper Court – Free bottle of wine or Champagne per couple with the purchase of two dinner entrées. For reservations call 773-752-5375.

Kilwins, 5226 S. Harper Avenue – Chocolate covered strawberries at $28/pound, boxed Valentine’s candy at $23.95 and up, Valentine’s gift baskets at $39.95 and up, and one free ½ pound of fudge when you purchase one pound.

Meadowlark, 1457 E. 53rd Street – Pound jewelry with natural crystals and stones, French silk scarves, handmade scented soaps, and hand-sewn clothing by Edamilla Dry Goods.

Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques, 5229 S. Harper Court – Roses, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and fresh lilacs; many flown in for the day. Pre-made arrangements will also be available, ranging from $50-$80. All deliveries must be called in no later than Thursday, Feb. 12 to 773-241-7777.

Porkchop, 1516 E. Harper Court – Three-course dinner menu for $33 as well as cocktail specials. For reservations call 773-493-9333.

The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Avenue West – Four-course tasting menu with 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. seatings for $65/person; vegetarian version available. Sommelier-selected wine pairings can be added to each course for $35/person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations can be made at 312-801-2100 and must be held with a credit card. After dinner, soul legends Norman Connors, Michael Henderson, and Jean Carne will perform upstairs, with show times at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.

June 24 Hyde Park Dinner Crawl to feature 53rd Street cuisine

Eight restaurants on 53rd Street will offer culinary delights as part of the Hyde Park Dinner Crawl organized by the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

Stops along the Crawl include A10, Chant, Clarke's, Kilwins, Mellow Yellow, Native Foods, Pizza Capri, and Rajun Cajun.

The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24. Tickets are $30 per person in advance or $35 on the day of the Crawl. To purchase tickets online, visit hydeparkchamberchicago.org/crawl.

Shop ‘Small Business Saturday’ on 53rd Street

Several 53rd Street businesses will host special events today in recognition of Small Business Saturday.

While Black Friday is the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Small Business Saturday reminds shoppers that there are great deals to be found at small businesses around the country. American Express started the Saturday observance in 2010, and the South East Chicago Commission is seizing the occasion to promote mid-South Side businesses.

Events in Hyde Park include:

Tea and Cookies at Akira

1539 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Come celebrate Akira’s 1-year anniversary in Hyde Park!  In the spirit of celebration, Akira will offer buy one, get one half off an entire purchase when customers present an ad or promotional flyer for Small Business Saturday in Hyde Park.  Sexy dresses, denim, jewelry, & handbags from over 200 designer brands and smaller fashion houses line the walls at AKIRA, ensuring that even the most discerning customer won't leave the store empty-handed. Patrons will also receive complimentary tea and cookies at the time of purchase. Shop Akira on Small Business Saturday and enjoy the celebration.

Sip and Shop at Sir and Madame – All Day

1504 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

This will be a social event with sangria and music to enhance the shopping experience. Sir and Madame will feature their winter collection and special discounts to patrons. Sip and Shop will appeal to individuals that appreciate shopping at boutiques and in upscale environments. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and the take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business.

Wine and Live DJ at Independence – All Day

1506 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

 To celebrate Small Business Day and enhance the shopping experience Independence will have a live DJ and serve complimentary wine while customers shop. Patrons will also receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages individuals to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. 

Hyatt Place Small Business Day Happy Hour Jazz Event 5pm – 9pm

5225 South Harper Court Avenue, Chicago IL. 

The Hyatt Place will host a Small Business Day happy hour event with local jazz artist Darwin G. Jackson & Company. Special guest speaker Dwayne Hirsh, Small Business Advocacy Council Board Member and Founder of Business Spotlight Networking will speak about the benefits of shopping local and supporting small businesses. Individuals will also learn about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local initiative and take the 365 Pledge to spend $365 in 2014 at a small business. The Hyatt Place will offer drink specials during happy hour to enrich the evening as we celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Late Night Dancing Chant Restaurant 10pm – 2am

1509 East 53rd Street, Chicago IL. 

Dance the night away at Chant in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Come enjoy “Late Night Dancing” hosted by Rhonda Flower & CoCo.  Party-goers will experience unground reggae, classic hip hop, soul and house music as they dance the night away. During this exciting event individuals will receive information about the Unwrap Chicago: Eat, Drink, & Buy Local 365 Pledge that encourages people to spend at least $365 in 2014 at a small business. Chant will offer Small Business Saturday drink specials. 

Visit the SECC website for information about Unwrap Chicago and Small Business Saturday events elsewhere on the mid-South Side.

Revitalized 53rd Street energizes community

The University of Chicago says redevelopment efforts “are making 53rd Street a more lively retail district” and that residents and businesses are benefitting from Hyde Park’s growth as a destination for dining, shopping and fun. Laura Milani Alessio writes:

The redevelopment of Harper Theater and nearby storefronts is part of the University of Chicago’s effort to partner with local businesses, residents, and elected officials to spur economic development along 53rd Street, a vital commercial corridor for Hyde Park. Chicago businesses increasingly see 53rd Street as a prime opportunity for growth, creating a sense of momentum that is drawing new ventures and customers to the area. The developments are creating new entertainment, dining, and retail options for the entire community—along with an estimated 1,320 new jobs—while building on the neighborhood’s appeal for UChicago students and faculty.

Read the full story and view new photos of 53rd Street here.

Friends Bryant Mclemore-Smith (left) and Makali Robinson (holding his daughter Nila) chat with Robinson's mother-in-law Patricia Jordan at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue in Hyde Park. (Photo by Rob Kozloff)

Now Playing at Harper Theater: 53rd Street

The Harper Theater recently added a new trailer to its lineup of preview clips: a promo inviting moviegoers to explore 53rd Street.

The 77-second video highlights retail, dining, and entertainment options—including newcomers such as Akira, Clarke’s and Kilwins, as well as longtime 53rd Street businesses such as Mellow Yellow, Chant, and Freehling Pots and Pans. The clip also previews CorePower Yoga, Hyatt Place hotel, and new restaurants by award-winning chef Matthias Merges, which are expected to open later this year.