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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 16

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jima / March 25, 2004 11:04 AM

Most endangered list: Demon Dogs (supposedly going away finally in June, although they've said that many times before).

Most lamented closings: Lounge Ax (the poster child of lamented closings), Rainbo roller rink, the Annoyance Theater, Urbis Orbis, Aspidistra Books (turn the best used bookstore in Chicago into a sushi place? Sure!), the Crows Nest on State & Jackson, Barbara's Bookstore on Wells, the Why Not bookstore/cafe on Belmont (also apparently becoming a sushi place: coincidence?), the Elek-Tek store on Ashland, the Village Cafe on Roscoe (changed owners, re-opened as La Mora, and lost a whole bunch of good food on the old menu), and any building that gets knocked down to have condos built on the lot.

jima / March 25, 2004 11:23 AM

Oh, one more lamented closing: The Stars our Destination, a great sci-fi/fantasy bookstore on Belmont which was forced to move out of its space up to another location in (I believe) Evanston due to dwindling sales, and eventually moved to a mail-order service. And now, as of last December, the owner has finally given up the business and has transferred all of her business to a sci-fi bookstore in Minneapolis. Sad to see the store die off like that. At least the old store space was taken by a worthy local business: Saturday Audio Exchange.

Seth Zurer / March 25, 2004 11:23 AM

Ciral's House of Tiki on 53rd St in Hyde Park. So sad that it's gone...

Peter / March 25, 2004 11:42 AM

In general, the closings of several smaller hardware stores like your neighborhood Ace/True Value.

Have you ever tried to get advice or assistance from someone at Home Depot or any of the other megachains? Its awful. None of the people that work their have a clue about the products or the project you are working on. And if you have to return a product because you had to bring it home to see if it would work (see lack of advice/knowledge), forget it. You get a hassle.

Tannenbaum True Value on Belmont must survive. They take care of people.

Andrew / March 25, 2004 11:45 AM

I miss Café Voltaire and Scenes, both coffeeshops On Clark just north and south, respectively, of Belmont. Great places to relax and spend hours drinking coffee -- very important to my teen years.

BC Tap in Andersonville closed last year, supposedly to make way for an improved fake Irish bar, but the owners were denied their new liquor license.

Most endangered: Hard to pick one place, but I know that the atmosphere, the great cultural mix in neighborhoods like Rogers Park and Logan Square are endangered by the influx of young condo-owners, of which I'm one. But I moved to RP to become part of that mix, not to replace it with new homogeneity.

Jonathan / March 25, 2004 11:57 AM

Losing the original Tuman's Tavern to the Old Navy version that's there now is enough to make a fella cry into a $1 beer.

Mike / March 25, 2004 12:10 PM

I was saddened to learn when I moved back to Evanston that the Main Cafe had closed and the oriental rug store next door had expanded into the old space - as if there aren't enough oriental rug stores on Chicago Ave.

I was pretty broken up as a kid when Now Playing, my favorite comic store closed. They moved and renamed the place, which has since closed, but it was never the same.

dce / March 25, 2004 12:45 PM

I often lament the passing of Lincoln Park Books, one of the few institutions that made living in that neighborhood tolerable. With insurmountable competition from Borders and Barnes & Noble, it simply wasn't able to survive pay the high rents of the Clark St. strip. It's since been replaced by a tanning salon.

And let us not forget the fabled Atomic Cafe in Rogers Park. A once vibrant local hangout, it was supplanted by the Starbucks juggernaut.

Xan / March 25, 2004 12:51 PM

My favorite crack house at the corner of Wolcott & Thomas is gone. I lived down the street and loved that building for its beautiful garages and creaky balcony. It was a corner building, with an old storefront of sorts all closed up and mysterioso.

Any time of day, there'd be someone down on the street, yelling for the old guy that lived upstairs. He was crabby, paunchy and yellow- always in a t-shirt and dirty pants.

The realtor in charge of the building's buyout did a pre-sale walk-through and said every floor of the building was packed, body to body with people sleeping (or something) and that the stench in there was terrifying.

Man, I miss that place. It's condos now - of course. Just like the rest of the block.

A lex, x, x / March 25, 2004 1:03 PM

I definitely miss Scenes Dramatist Bookstore/Cafe (Heh! Andrew, we were both probably there at the same time at some point) and Green Street Cafe. Those places were so magical to me and played an integral part in my life during my teen angst "I HATE EVERYONE" phase. And of course, who could forget the original, one and only, Medusa's?

The places that I fear for most are the Logan Theater (home of the $3.00 movie) and Kopi Cafe --one of the few old school coffee houses left.

paul / March 25, 2004 1:15 PM

This just in: I heard a rumor that Charmers, the oldest and most northernmost Gay bar in Chicago may be in trouble. Its fairly new owner just died before he was able to renew the liquor license. There was no will and the family is rumored to not be interested in keeping it. This art deco gem now goes on the list with Big Chicks as having an uncertain future.

One of the lower-profile closings I miss is the Wells St. Deli, a greasy spoon on Wells and Huron, which closed soon after a Subway opened across the street.

daruma / March 25, 2004 1:49 PM

Marigold Bowl on Grace, soon to make way for, you guessed it, condos. Those were my home-field advantage lanes! Sorely missed: Bentos Japanese restaurant on Clark (now a Texas Star Fajita Bar). Also, Club 950 on Wrightwood.

Naz / March 25, 2004 1:56 PM

What? The Marigold is closing? Crap! Now where am I going to be able to play a good game of bowling a block away in a great alley? This is a shame.

Isn't the Texas Star Fajita Bar now a Twisted Spoke?

robin.. / March 25, 2004 1:57 PM

i too lament the loss of the rainbow rink, supplanted by "rainbow village luxury condos." one of my best memories of the city was gay night at the rainbow; i can now only grow more cynical as i wonder about the marketing decision to go ahead and call a development for the very upwardly mobile--once replete with spandex-wearin', gloria gaynor lip-syncin', rollerskatin' men--"rainbow."

i am worried about andersonville in general, especially with the recent sale of the landmark of a-ville to a dental chain...

Jake / March 25, 2004 2:00 PM

I just went to the Rock and Roll McDonalds for lunch today. It was the first time I've been there in, seriously, 15 years. Back in high school, I visited Chicago with my mom and my best friend. We ate there because it was right across the street from the packed and expensive Hard Rock Cafe, and I couldn't believe all the cool Beatles stuff the McDonalds had. This time I realized it's a bunch of reproduced tchotchke. No big loss. I would like to have that Elvis guitar they have in there though (one of only 250 in the series).

Also endangered: Rose's on Lincoln. That place (and that wonderful old lady) can't last much longer. That'll be sad.

Lilly's, down the street, on the other hand, should be boarded up and burned down. My wife once got a bloody mary there with placenta in it. No shit. That place sucks.

Rob / March 25, 2004 2:26 PM

FYI, the BC Tap in Andersonville is actually in the process of becoming a new and improved Taste of Heaven, the coffee-cum-pastry shop currently on Foster/Paulina. And what a reliefy. There was a rumor that Blockbuster had tried to buy up the whole building (BC Tap + Angel's mexican restaurant), which would have put our favorite indy video store across the street WAY out of business.

There seems to be a pretty large outcry here in Aville against the Landmark's supposed conversion into a dental plaza . . . and from experience, when Aville residents get into a froth about something, they can be surprisingly adamant.

Kris / March 25, 2004 2:45 PM

I was saddened by the closing in 2002 of the Jane Addams Hull House on Broadway at Belmont. The theater there had been home to Steppenwolf, Famous Door, Lookingglass, Bailiwick, and About Face, among others. Steppenwolf's famous production of Balm in Gilead, the one that put them and off-Loop theatre on the map, happened there. The Hull House was also a community center, with a swimming pool, pottery studio and all sorts of classes.

The building was sold to a developer, to be torn down and make way for a gym. Never mind that there's already a gym directly across the street. A year and a half after closing, though, it still sits, empty and undisturbed and sad.

Andrew / March 25, 2004 2:48 PM

I had heard about that, Rob. You're right, Andersonville will go to bat for their favorite haunts, but that didn't save the BC Tap and it might not save the Landmark -- although we can certainly hope. For it to be saved, those indie stores will have to put up more in rent, that's for sure.

amyc / March 25, 2004 3:07 PM

Marigold is closing? God damn it! That is just not right.

Kenan / March 25, 2004 3:38 PM

I'm going to get a reputation as being the resident curmudgeon around here, but Demon Dogs stinks. The hot dogs are frightening, shirivelled, dried. With plenty of juicy, tasty hot dogs around, how did this awful little geriatric phallus of pork get such a grand reputation? Sure, they only cost $2, but there's a difference between cost and value. They're not worth ten cents. I was disappointed when they announced they were staying longer than they had originally announced. Now I have to risk offending the local pride of many more people when they say, "Let's get a Demon Dog!" and I say, "No thanks. They make me think very icky things about my grandfather."

jima / March 25, 2004 4:07 PM

Oh, I totally agree with you, Kenan. Demon Dogs has crappy food, but it is one block away from DePaul. And I hesitate to point out the obvious, but college students are not exactly known for their fine dining tastes.

And let's not forget that DD allows people waiting for the westbound Fullerton bus to stand in their foyer during colder months. So they get extra points for that.

Ian / March 25, 2004 4:27 PM

I don't think the dogs are that bad...they've got a good snap.

jennifer / March 25, 2004 4:30 PM

any 100+ year old building (all of them) that's been torn down to build those hideous, characterless filing cabinet people call condos. lounge ax and tuman's most definitely as well.

shechemist / March 25, 2004 4:41 PM

in the past 3 years that I have been back? the village tap in roscoe village and the prodigal son.

places when I was a wee goth wanna be? Medusa's.

Andrew / March 25, 2004 5:11 PM

Jennifer: I call those abominations "condoliths." Spread the word.

lisa ann / March 25, 2004 8:14 PM

Andrew & Jennifer what about 'yuppie boxes' for the condos? As for lost things (and speaking of andersonville) what about george's - the thrift shop extravaganza on clark that is now some ridiculously large tavernesque place. And rose’s… oh it would break me if that place ever closed.

Kenan / March 25, 2004 8:45 PM

"Yuppie boxes" work for most of them, but it does fail once you've reached a certain height and level of intrusiveness. I think "condolith" is the perfect word to describe this insanity.

Andrew / March 25, 2004 10:48 PM

It certainly applies to those, but I use it to refer to the too-tall cinderblock monstrosities Jennifer was referring to. Yuppie box is too genneric -- yuppies live in many different styles of box, not just those things (although condoliths are filled exclusively with yuppies.)

jmo / March 25, 2004 11:39 PM

I am totally showing my age here (anyone else?) but I miss:

-Cafe Equinox on Belden and Lincoln as well as the great OLD John Barleycorn's (hold the Yuppies, bring back the dart tournaments) across the street

-The 13th Floor Lounge

-Cafe Luna where, in 1991, you could get your own little cafe presse of java at your table while you studied

-Joe Segal's Lounge, but in the Blackstone Hotel

-The Belden Deli, at 3 a.m., after the bars closed for matzoh ball soup

A lex, x, x / March 26, 2004 7:54 AM

Yes! Cafe Equinox -- I totally forgot about that place.

Benjy / March 26, 2004 8:27 AM

I miss Bub City, the cajun crab shack that was part of Lettuce Entertainment. It was where Circus now is, over on Weed St.

pat / March 26, 2004 8:40 AM

Yeah, i miss Scenes on clark too. Had my first cappuccino there; you don't forget that sort of thing. I bristle everytime I walk past Caesars and their sign that says "Killer Margaritas" because I've noticed a direct correlation between the quality of food, to the amount of self-acclaim mexican restaurants give their margaritas.

I don't know if it's in danger, but I'd hate to see Lincoln Sq. Lanes or the Lincoln Sq. Ace gone. Where else can you go bowling above a hardware store. The drinks are cheap. The jukebox is fun. The interior is pure 1959.

Al / March 26, 2004 11:41 AM

I only went a couple of times but the Checkerboard Lounge on 43rd was pretty neat. I hear they're thinking of opening in the old "ghettoplex" space in Hyde Park though.

Carly / March 26, 2004 1:11 PM

I'm definitely going to miss Marigold goes back three generations for my family.

The South Side Nisei bowling league started right after WWII.

I'm sad Rainbo is gone, just becaue the sheer shadiness of the place made me want to go just once.

A co-worker of mine is one of many petitioning against the Landmark possible dental office turmoil. I live in Andersonville and hope the neighborhood wins on this one. It's true that the residents around me don't stand for much. Hence the obnoxious amount of speed bumps and traffic circles.

brian / March 26, 2004 1:20 PM

My heart will always mourn the loss of Green St. Cafe.

The city is changing a lot though, and frankly, I'm ok with that. It's easy to say that all the good stuff is going away, that Starbucks is taking over everything. Bah. There's still a lot of great cafes out there. Sure, Equinox was better than a Quiznos, but I'd rather have the Quiznos and go somewhere else for coffee than have Chicago become Pittsburgh, ie, moribund and dead.

The reason cities are so wonderful and great is because they change. Places come and go. If only the same places ever existed, no matter how funky or cool, we might as well live in a farm town with the one cafe. Blah.

Craig / March 26, 2004 1:39 PM

"The reason cities are so wonderful and great is because they change"

Amen. People become "urban-luddites" when they reminisce and romanticize the places from 'back in the day'. Almost no one wants to see the city turn into a generic Gap/Starbucks/HomeDepot/BesyBuy urban landscape, but it can and will happen if two things don't happen:

1) Small/local business owners must be creative when faced with new corporate competition. Sure they might not be able to compete on prices, but they'll have to find another niche that sets them apart (service, selection, customization...) or they will go under.

2) Consumers must choose to support local businesses when faced with a choice. I'm sure we're all guilty of lamenting the loss of a place we'd only frequented a few times. If you truly love a local bookstore and want to see it live, force yourself not to use Borders just because it's cheaper. Same goes for that hardware store, sammich shop, restaurant, and coffee shop.

Carly / March 26, 2004 1:39 PM

I agree to an extent.

But knocking down Chicago institutions to build condos isn't the kind of change I'm looking for.

Not in Chicago. Not anywhere.

Jake / March 26, 2004 1:47 PM

All these anti-yuppie comments are funny. I understand there's a diff between organic food-buying, bicycle-riding web designers and Jetta-driving, Starbucks-drinking, Banana Republic-shopping ad industry types, but to that crackhead down the street, we're all just dumb white bitches.

Ben / March 26, 2004 2:29 PM

Maybe the next Fuel topic will enlighten us on the alternatives to the ongoing rash of condo construction. I have to agree, they lack character and most are ugly as hell, but where are people supposed to live? Is anyone going to move into that huge, rat-infested tool and die stamp building, or should it just be torn down to make way for some affordable housing? And that house down the street that's due to collapse at any moment; is someone going to shell out the 200k for that and then throw in another 50k to make it liveable? Let's not lose our landmark buildings or historic architecture. But the idea that we can all be living in that beautiful bungalow we've had our eye on just isn't feasible. If there were no condos in the city, all the yuppies would be living in the suburbs and people like us would be stuck here with no affordable homes and too many vacant buildings OR all the yuppies would buy up the homes in the city and people like us would be living in Gary.

Andrew / March 26, 2004 2:57 PM

Ben, I live in an apartment building that was built in 1916. It was gut-rehabbed -- basically, everything but the floors and outside walls were ripped out of each unit and redone -- three years ago, and I bought my one-bedroom unit for around $150K. We'll make a pretty good profit when we move. There are similar buildings rehabbed into condos all over my neighborhood (south Rogers Park) and the rest of the city.

I'm not opposed to new construction. I'm opposed to new constructions that are thrown up with little or no regard for the aesthetics of the neighborhood. Rehabbing older buildings is, in my opinion, preferable to tearing down vintage buildings and replacing them with cookie-cutter structures that tower over neighboring buildings and almost purposefully don't match their surroundings. There are some developers of condoliths that have begun to design their constructions to blend in with the rest of the street, but most still don't, and those will be treated with as much love and respect as the four-plus-ones that dot the city. And vintage condos are all over the place in terms of price range.

Haydn / March 26, 2004 3:03 PM

And the new condo-building era (roughly 1995 to date) is creating housing that is thousands of times more outwardly appealing than anything built in the city since the late 30s early 40s. Compared the four-plus-ones of the 60s or the fortress-like, gated complexes of the 70s and 80s, the new postmodern three-flats are a huge step forward.
And on a side note, most of the things I miss in Rogers Park, specifically on Morse Avenue, gave way to blight and vacant lots, not gentrification. I would much rather walk down Sheridan or Morse today and be inundated by boutique clothing shops than see the vacant lots on Sheridan (thanks Loyola!) or the mishmash of dollar and liquor stores on Morse. Not 15 years ago the Morse strip had: a diner, a hardware store, an ice cream shop, a supermarket, a record store, a health foods store and a decent basement clothing store. All gone with the closing of the Record Exchange late last year. The day any useful businesses open up on Morse is a good one in my book.

shechemist / March 26, 2004 3:06 PM

I am intrested in alternative to yuppie containment units (condos) myself. In the next year I am going to be looking at houses and condos are the most affordable housing options.

I like the idea of living in a rehabbed 3/6 flat, but even those are stupidly spendy.

brian / March 26, 2004 4:50 PM

Condos are yuppie containment units? Pluh-eeze. Next fuel question should be "are you a yuppie?" Everyone seems to have plenty of reasons why they aren't.

Hey Naz look - a fuel without sex!

miss ellen / March 26, 2004 4:53 PM

as i just purchased a condo, it's not impossible to find things that aren't red-brick ugly tear downs. you have to look for it & be prepared to give things up.

i found a tiny condo in a gut-rehabbed building, similar to andrew's situation. it was a small hotel built in the '20s. the units are S-M-A-L-L, so i'm giving up space, but the $$$ & location are unbeatable.

also, i don't have a deck, and i don't have a parking space; i don't have the luxury items that come with the tear-downs. see, i think that's it.

if you want LUXURY (hahaha), and pay no regard to history of neighborhoods, you can EASILY find it. shit, ride the blue line & it's all you see being built up along the tracks once you head out of the subway. if you want something different, you have to be prepared to make concessions; but, it isn't *that* hard.

honestly, i think i really lucked out. yes, i won't be having large dinner parties anymore, but that's ok. i just spent 3 years in a ridiculously large apartment & we entertained our asses off. now, it's time to switch gears.

shechemist / March 26, 2004 5:23 PM

isn't yuppie containment units a funny turn of phrase no more offensive than condolith?

aren't people really fucking touchy over issues of housing and income?

don't I envy miss ellen even tho I require housing that is dog friendly, and parking friendly cuz I marrying a right wing tinfoil hat wearing car owner? and I have family from the 'burbs and I want them to feel comfortable parking their minivans when they visit me?

wasn't I earnest in my request for housing options?

don't I think all answers to the next fuel be phrased as a question?

shouldn't I feel deep shame for being on my 3rd drink when I should be getting ready for guest from seattle the land of really fucking shitty housing options?

why do I as someone from the west coast think the whole conversation about cinder block condos is kinda silly as the condos I see being put up are annoying, but generally blend in with the 'hood, when seattle has no requirement are really fucking ugly buildings as a result?

A lex, x, x / March 26, 2004 5:38 PM

Hey Naz look - a fuel without sex!

Hey Brian, one time at Medusa's -- when it was still open -- I walked in on a couple having sex in the third floor on an ottoman. All I remember is she was wearing black and white stripped tights her black and white stripped legs were totally straight up in the air.

There! A fuel question with sex....

cjb / March 26, 2004 5:47 PM

Let's get back on topic --

I loved the Augenblick on Damen just south of Irving Park.

Ben / March 26, 2004 6:13 PM

Yes, back on topic. I've only been in Chicago for 5 years but I miss: Lounge Ax, George's on Clark, and Cousin's on Clark (I think they relocated). And though I don't believe it's endangered, I really miss the lakefront after moving from Uptown to Avondale. Chicago may have lots of ugly new construction, but at least we have that lakeshore as a public park area. The same cannot be said of many coastal towns in western Michigan where the lakefront is cluttered with motels, private homes, jet ski rental shacks, fudge shops, etc. Imagine cruising down Lakeshore Drive and hitting all that traffic from the Windy City Shoreline Best Western and Sammy Sosa's Beachfront FunPlex complete with batting cages, go-carts, waterslides and miniature golf. Thanks for the lake AMW.

Cinnamon / March 27, 2004 3:52 PM

There was a little sushi shop on Clark St. just under the el tracks called Nakagawa that closed back in 1998 or 99. It was the first sushi shop I went to on a regular basis and the first place I remember being warmly remembered by the server and the sushi chef. But I think I may have finally found a replacement at Hama Matsu.

brian / March 28, 2004 8:04 PM

Perhaps it isn't the places I miss as much as not being 19 and have everything be exciting and new.

shylo / March 28, 2004 8:07 PM

You know, many condos are ugly, but if that's what people will buy, whatever. If potential homeowners demand/seek out vintage/authentic-looking construction, then that's what will become widespread.

And trixies/yuppies/other with cash need homes too. Most of the people on this list are technically yuppies.

Russ / March 29, 2004 10:25 AM

"Small/local business owners must be creative when faced with new corporate competition."

Most of that corporate competition gets tax breaks small owners have no clout to get. And TIFs in neighborhoods that don't need them.

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