Lakeview Ann Sather restaurant cited, Wicker Park party shut down for violating Chicago COVID restrictions

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Wicker Park party busted, Lakeview restaurat cited, but some pivot to help during COVID-19
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While Chicago officials were busting a Wicker Park party at an underground club and citing the Lakeview Ann Sather for violating indoor dining rules, Third Coast Hospitality is working to help fight the pandemic until its restaurants can reopen.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More Chicago businesses have been cited or shut down over COVID-19 violations, including another Wicker Park club hosting a party with more than 100 unmasked attendees and Ald. Tom Tunney's Lakeview Ann Sather restaurant.

The Wicker Loft in the 1200-block of Milwaukee Avenue received multiple citations for COVID-19 and business license violations and indoor smoking after the city broke up a party there Saturday.

City investigators said 142 maskless partiers packed into the club, flagrantly violating statewide mandates banning indoor gatherings.

The venue charged hundreds of dollars for bottle service at the event.

RELATED: Huge parties violating Chicago COVID-19 restrictions continue, as city tries to crack down

"You can do without a party for a couple months while w work to save people's lives," Gov. JB Pritzker admonished Tuesday.

The second floor of the residential building was also closed for fire code violations, including an obstructed rear egress and no smoke detectors, according to the city.

In late November, the city shut down a 300-person party at The Vault, another Wicker Park business in the 1600 block of West Division Street.

RELATED: City shuts down 300-person party in Wicker Park, other businesses for 'egregiously' violating COVID-19 restrictions

Tunney's three Ann Sather's locations were investigated by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection after the alderman admitted Monday that he "made a mistake" by allowing some of his regular customers to dine inside his businesses.

Tunney's admission came after the "Second City Cop" blog disclosed that he had been serving guests and posted pictures of food on indoor tables. On one table, there was a copy of the Dec. 3 newspaper near a slice of bacon.

RELATED: Ald. Tunney caught allowing indoor dining at Ann Sather restaurant in Lakeview; admits to 'error in judgment'

Tunney faces a maximum fine of $10,500 for the two citations, but the final amount won't be determined until his administrative hearing.

In a statement, Tunney said: "We cooperated fully with BACP's investigation yesterday and received the citations this morning. Because our case will not be heard until February, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time. Again, we regret our error in judgement."

Third Coast Hospitality pivots to pandemic help instead of violating mandates

The restaurant industry, in Chicago as well as everywhere in the U.S., is struggling mightily as it bears the brunt of some of the most stringent COVID-19 restrictions of any industry.

"We're all struggling. I would not throw a stone at anyone who's trying to survive and paying their bills," said Sam Sanchez of Third Coast Hospitality.

But instead of breaking rules, Sanchez changed up the game and turned his now-empty, massive River North restaurants into centers to cater to the industries of the moment.

"We started making face masks, started that back in June," he said.

The makeshift mask factory at Old Crow in River North is located in a room that once hosted live music, and Sanchez said doing so allowed him to bring some of the staff back to work. The cases of face masks are then sold to businesses and Amazon.

And after a long wait for his own positive COVID-19 test, Sanchez converted his Moe's Cantina locations in River North and Wrigleyville into a rapid result COVID testing sites.

"We knew there was a need for these special occasions," he said. "You need piece of mind, and you can't wait seven days or three days for an appointment."

Since March, the city has investigated 6,994 instances of COVID-19 violations and cited 344 businesses.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.