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“My whole life I’ve been completely wrapped up in writing,” says jewelry designer and writer Tara Walker. “At a certain point though, I think I just longed to make something with my hands, something physical that could just be done when it was done – unlike a piece of writing which never really feels finished to me.”

Walker’s jewelry line, Lucky Whale proved just the outlet Walker craved.

“For a while,” she says, “I had a hard time seeing the connection between [writing and making jewelry] until I realized that one process frees me up for the other. I think the reason I make jewelry, in some ways, is to refresh my sanity for my writing.”

This week Lucky Whale bobs up at The Andersonville Galleria, where Walker is proud to begin showcasing her designs.

Our Town How did you come up with the name for your store?

Tara Walker Completely by accident. I have a really good friend in Denver who draws the most wonderful things without even thinking about it. One day we were at a restaurant in Denver and he started doodling on the children’s menu. One of his doodles was the whale with a shamrock in his hat. At the time I was looking for a name and a logo for my jewelry business and suddenly there it was, in front of me. There have been times when I’ve thought, weird, I have a smiling whale for a logo. But overall I think it actually fits with the playful aesthetic that I bring to my designs. 



OT What sort of things inspire your designs?

TW Right now the majority of my inspiration comes from hunting for interesting things to reuse. I don’t want to make things that are just pretty. Pretty is fine, but I want to make something surprising, something that stretches my imagination in the process. One of my favorite things to do is repurpose images from unexpected places. For instance, I found a bunch of brochures from the ‘50s at the Brown Elephant – (my favorite was about the “father of steel”) and they had these wonderful illustrations in them. The most fun thing for me is seeing something like that and imagining what it can become. 


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OT You’re a writer and your visual art often contains literary elements. Coincidence? Conscious choice?

TW A little of both. There seems to be an obsession with putting birds and butterflies on jewelry. (“Put a bird on it!”) That’s fine of course, I like birds and butterflies – but I am always looking to push myself away from the traditional aesthetic. I like books and poetry so I think it was inevitable that they end up in my jewelry. One of my favorite literature-inspired pieces features the Dorothy Parker poem Resume. The whole thing fits into a 1x2 inch pendant so it works really well. It’s a pretty gold pendant so it looks like there’s going to be a prayer or something inside it, but you look closer and suddenly it’s Dorothy Parker’s quippy “Razors pain you, rivers are damp, acids stain you, and drugs cause cramp…”

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My journalistic credo is borrowed from the theater world: don’t steal focus. As an interviewer, I’m a supporting player, my subject, the star. To this end, I strip questions to the bone, cut most personal asides, and shy away from quoting those capricious compliments the average interviewee pays.

Enter artist Tony Fitzpatrick; generous, insightful and endearingly loquacious—not your average interviewee.

I worry that including my end of our discussion appears self-indulgent. However, in the interest of accurately rendering Tony, I’ve put my usual reticence aside. As personable as he is talented, Tony has plenty to say about his politics, his travels, his inspirations, but he’s also genuinely curious about others. To interview Tony is to step into an ongoing conversation, one he carries on through his visual art, poetry and acting; one he has with neighbors and hobos and strangers who quickly become friends. Here's my contribution.

Our Town What inspired your new play, Stations Lost?
Tony Fitzpatrick I went to Istanbul to meet Muslims. I realized I didn’t know any. I had some a**hole at a dinner party tell me that the world wouldn’t be a peaceful place until we dealt with the Islamic problem. I said, “what do you mean by that,” and he said, “well, till we get rid of all the Muslims.” I said, “jihadists are like two percent, you understand that, right?” He goes, “name me one place in the world where Islamic people live in peace.” I said, “Istanbul, since 1927.” So, then he slides his glasses down his nose and he goes “have you beeeeen to Istanbul?” I said “no, but I’ll tell you what, the next time we speak I will have been.” And I went. And I’ll tell you, I found more brotherhood and kindness and generosity among a culture of Muslims than I did driving across America. So much for who we fear.

OT This is your second show with Ann Filmer. To what do you attribute the success of your collaborations?
TF Her laser sharp ability to adapt. We carved away a lot of great pieces and went down to the most muscular ones. Just as with [first collaboration]This Train, she very gently told me where the lines were, let me know what was germane, helped prune what didn’t belong and shape it into a really dynamic piece. Were it up to me she would have taken a co-writing credit for Stations Lost, but she said, “every word is yours.” I showed her my diaries and told her, I think there’s a show in here about fear and faith and the folly of wanting faith. I worked in radio for ten years. When I hear O’Reilly and Limbaugh, these are the guys who chased me out of radio. They’re the reason I didn’t want to work there anymore; it became this culture of hate. They wrap it up in fear and they kite tail it with faith, like if you’re a Christian you believe this or that; well, thank God I’m an atheist. So, the show is about the aural wallpaper that surrounds us as Americans and how they attempted to teach me faith as a kid. Now look, this all sounds really heavy, but it’s really funny. You’ve seen my shows; I’m a funny motherf**ker. So what’s going on with you?

OT Me? I have a book coming out next spring.
TF It’s about time, goddamnit.

OT I don’t know what to expect-
TF Expect to spend no small amount of time promoting it and let me know what I can do to help.

OT That’s really generous, but you don’t have to do that.
TF I’d like to. You want to do a book signing at the gallery? My gallery is a cool place; people come there.

OT Tell me a little about your gallery.
TF Firecat? It was my studio for seventeen years and I closed it as a studio and turned it into a gallery where we show artists who I think deserve to be better known. You know, Stan [Klein] and me made a list of artists, and everyone on the list it was like, why aren’t these men and women a bigger part of the conversation? I said to Stan, “what could we afford to lose between us,” and he said, “comfortably, maybe $3000 a month.” We figured that was enough to budget the gallery. We take no percentage of the artists’ sales. We print a poster, do a mailing and invite all our collectors. Our friends from 3Floyds supply the beer, and then we usually throw a little after-party at my house.

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All female theater group, Babes with Blades has one goal, to expand opportunities for women in stage combat. With their latest show, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, director Brian LaDuca and fight designer Libby Beyreis bring their expertise and intensity to bear on a classic.

Our Town Why set the production in late 19th century Italy?
Brian LaDuca This was a volatile time in Italy, with industry becoming a dramatically strong presence [as Italy moved] towards super power status. In addition, the clergy was on watch because their power was becoming less. Finally, since industry was showing itself to be more influential than in prior years, artillery was becoming more advanced, thus pushing the sword to more of an ornamental piece. Both the handgun and the sword were negotiating the future. This shift is something we are focusing on because it [relates] to the Babes mission of hand to hand combat.

OT What unique attributes does BWB bring to this much-produced show?
BL Obviously the all female casting provides a unique creative structure. I looked at it [as] a way to humanize the characters; each character is a human with characteristics that any living person can embody. In addition, BWB brings a stage combat education that is invaluable. As a director, knowing that at any time a physical confrontation can leap off the stage with a skilled fight is priceless.

OT Speaking of stage combat, Libby, what's the most challenging aspect for the designer?
Libby Beyreis The design of the set can restrict the space available for fighting. The costumes can restrict actors' movements. The script tells us what kinds of things the characters would and wouldn't do, and the actors themselves might be limited by their level of experience. The challenge, then, is to build an exciting fight within [that] context.

OT And the actors?
LB [Actors have] got to rehearse a fight dozens if not hundreds of times to get it into muscle memory, and always have to be mindful not only of choreography, but of surroundings and [their] partner. You’re also fighting at top speed, often with heavy, dangerous weapons. It is mentally and physically exhausting.

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I love Dolly. Not “Hello Dolly” star Carol Channing who I’m terrified lurks in my basement. Dolly Parton, responsible for songs as diverse as “I Will Always Love You,” and my personal favorite, the haunting “Jolene.” Dolly Parton who starred in the 1979 movie, “Nine to Five,” which I watched no less than fifty times when I was in junior high. Sure, I could have been out developing my interpersonal skills, but then what would I have done in my late twenties when everyone else was getting married? Besides, what at the time felt like social failure, in retrospect looks like a self-initiated education in comedy and feminism. “Nine to Five” is a tight, smart gem of a movie, still tart and relevant even in 2011. While its enduring significance is largely due to the caliber of its three female leads, the script itself is trenchant and witty, aiming to educate and entertain.

When I heard “Nine to Five The Musical” would hit Chicago for a limited two-week engagement, I was jazzed…and dubious. While plays like the aforementioned “Hello Dolly” have been making the journey from stage to screen, the film to live musical flip is a recent phenomena. “The Producers” managed it. But for other movies/plays, particularly those submerged in nostalgia, the transition comes less fluidly. (“Dirty Dancing The Musical,” go to your corner!) Perhaps lazy writers bank on a viewer’s tendency to insert her own memories into a given work. Perhaps nervous producers fear a film’s plot won’t withstand the move to stage. Whatever the reason, nostalgia alone cannot carry a play.
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Inside the Bank of America Theatre, I was greeted by a brightly colored scrim decked in a late 70’s motif. Pictures of Cher, Charlie’s Angels, references to The Scarsdale Diet, all boldly beckoned. As the lights dimmed and Dolly Parton took the stage to introduce the show, I hoped for the best. Inexplicably introduced by Illinois Governor, Patrick Quin, Dolly sparkled in a calf-length spangled dress. Characteristically charming and sassy, she described her reaction to being asked to create the score for "Nine to Five." “I’ll try anything,” she said, adding, “if you like the show, tell your friends and if you don’t, keep your big mouth shut.

Thus my dilemma; I’d be roughly two hundred words under my count if I respected Dolly’s wishes.

What happens when you combine one talented comedian and singer and one rocking pianist and improviser? You get LA-based lesbian cabaret duo, That’s What She Said. Comprised of pianist Kathryn Lounsbery and singer Amy Turner, the two have been wowing LA audiences since 2007. Now it’s Chicago’s chance. Thank goodness they brought their rainbow jackets!

Our Town What brought you together?
Kathryn Lounsbery I was looking to do something different [when] I saw Amy perform [at Second City], improvising amazing and funny songs. I knew I had to work with her.
Amy Turner After the show, Kathryn gave me her card, and we started working on songs that were already written. Then we started writing our own.
KL And they happened to be about lesbians.
OT You two are a couple. Any challenges?
KL Of course!
AT You answered really fast.
KL See what I mean? Can you imagine living AND working with this attitude?

OPEN:
Epic Burger -- The popular, sustainable burger spot opens a second location on the south edge of Lincoln Park (in the Best Buy shopping center).
Gaztro-Wagon -- When not out roaming the streets in their new food truck (if it ever gets fully approved, that is), these naanwich-makers will be preparing food (available for takeout) at this Edgewater storefront.
Shallots Bistro -- We recently reported this gourmet kosher spot as closed, but it was actually moving to a new, permanent location in Skokie.
The Wormhole -- This '80s-themed coffeehouse has begun its time-travel adventure in Wicker Park.

CLOSING:
ESPN Zone -- The Disney-owned sports-bar chain is closing most locations around the country. June 16 is the last day for the Chicago branch.

CLOSED:
Kan Pou -- The Chonburi-influenced Thai spot in North Center has closed its doors.
Hortex 2 -- Stylish Polish cafe on Irving Park seems to have served its last pierogi (the phone is disconnected, and paper is up on the windows).


Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Pour Drinks & Eats -- Joe Parra, the general manager of this Lakeview spot, took the garden concept up a notch with moody lighting, cozy seating, flat screens and a thought-out menu of affordable fare.
FreshBerry -- Yet another frozen-yogurt chain has set up shop in Chicago, this time in Streeterville.
Donatella Mediterranean Bistro -- Donatella Majore, owner of the now-closed La Cucina di Donatella, is back for more, opening this Mediterranean-inspired spot in Evanston.
Jimmy Green's Bar & Grill -- This self-described "all-American sports bar" serves up everything from pizza to hummus in the South Loop.
City Provisions Deli -- Gourmet catering company City Provisions (headquartered just up the street) offers up gourmet sandwiches, sides and a small selection of groceries at this shop.
Ojo de Agua Taqueria -- Get tacos, burritos and quesadillas on handmade tortillas at this taqueria on the border of Bucktown and Logan Square.
Kim & Scott's Cafe Twist -- The folks behind frozen-food brand Kim and Scott's Gourmet Pretzels now have a storefront restaurant to call their own.

CLOSING:
Marche -- Got a steak frites craving? Better get there fast. The French West Loop spot plans to close its doors on June 13.

CLOSED:
Martini Park -- No more adults will be playing at this River North lounge.
Sugar Syndicate -- One third of Lincoln Square's "Sweet Collective" has come down from its sugar high.
Purple Haze – The Northwestern-themed bar didn't last long in what seems to be a cursed space in Lakeview. The new inhabitant: Beer.
Shallots Bistro -- Apparently, gourmet kosher fare wasn't for everyone.
Shrimp Walk -- The Highwood Thai spot remains open for private parties.
Viet Bistro -- The Rogers Park restaurant stayed classy 'til the end.
En*Thai*Ce -- Andersonville just lost a favorite pad see eiw purveyor.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

NBC New York reports, from “a very reliable source,” that it knows the locations of Chicago super chef Grant Achatz’s two new projects, Next and Aviary.

According to their blog, Next – the upscale restaurant with rotating historical-era-influenced menus and “tickets” instead of reservations – is moving into the shuttered Follia location in the West Loop.

In a little more shocking news, the accompanying bar/lounge, Aviary, would take over Fulton Lounge, located next door.

No confirmation of these rumors, and no time table has been announced (the mega-huge blockbuster trailer for Next only says 2010). But it likely won’t be anytime in the immediate future – you know, since Fulton Lounge is still open and all.

Updates forthcoming, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

OPEN:
Manee Thai -- The popular Thai spot rises from the ashes, returning to Avondale after a fire.
The Vault -- This "upperground lounge" above Vivo offers cocktails, personal pizzas and more in an old bank vault.
Blue Frog 22 -- Kick back and have some fun at this River North spinoff of the popular Blue Frog Bar & Grill that looks more like a basement rec room. Board games and karaoke rule this bar.
Sushi Para M -- The Sushi Para all-you-can-eat sushi empire moves into Bucktown with this new BYOB location on Milwaukee.
Deca Restaurant + Bar -- The Ritz-Carlton opened this new restaurant with brasserie-inspired cuisine.
Cloud 9 -- This Taiwanese "snow ice" spot in Lakeview serves what can be described as a mix between ice cream and shaved ice, with fresh fruit and fruit purees.

CLOSING:
Tizi Melloul -- You've only got another week to get Middle Eastern fare in a modern environment, as this River North staple closes May 15.

CLOSED:
Follia -- West Loop Italian spot had great food, but not enough crowds.
Bar Louie (Little Italy) -- Don't worry, there are plenty of other locations to visit in the area.
Paris Cafe -- The short-lived River North spot was replaced by the generically named Chicago Bar & Grill.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

OPEN:
Dodo -- The popular breakfast spot is back, taking over the Dino's Morgan Inn space on weekends.
The Piggery -- The former Cordis Brothers Supper Club turns into a BBQ sports bar in Lakeview.
Fountainhead -- Expect better-than-bar food options from the menu of this gastropub on the border of Lincoln Square and North Center, and a quality beer list headed by Phil Kuhl, of Sheffield's "Beer School" fame.
Pizzeria Serio -- Get NY-style thin-crust at this 150-seat Roscoe Village spot.
Be Le Cafe -- This sister spot to Ba Le Sandwiches & Deli (just a storefront north) offers the same Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) in a more modern space.
Floriole Cafe & Bakery -- The Green City Market fixture opens up a new, two-floor spot in Lincoln Park. Don't miss the macarons.
Crepes A Latte -- This North Center cafe offers...you guessed it, crepes and lattes.
Wrigleyville Wild Wings -- The former Fly Me To the Moon has morphed into this wings-and-beer bar in the heart of Cubs territory.
Taco Fuego -- Want a foot-long burrito? This Lakeview/Roscoe Village spot is where to get it.


CLOSED:
Joe's Cafe -- You'll have to go elsewhere for jibaritos in Berwyn.
Los Tamales -- Small Mexican shop in Cicero is no more.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent Chicago restaurant (and bar) openings and closings.

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Accanto - Logan Square gets another upscale Italian spot, in the space adjacent to Lucky Vito's.

Al Primo Canto - The Brazilian all-you-can-eat palace opens a second Chicago location in River North.

Ciao Napoli Pizzeria - Expect fine Italian dining in the former Abril spot in Logan Square.

Clarke's Diner (Wicker Park) - Another location of the popular diner opens on Damen.

Vintage 338 - This quaint Lincoln Park cafe offers a variety of southern European street food, including items from Green City Market. But the real star is the wine list, which focuses on Spanish, Italian and French offerings.

Sports Corner - The previously torn-down Sports Corner gets new life on Addison and Sheffield, just steps from Wrigley Field. The three-story homage to all things baseball (and Cubs) will clear out after the games are over for a huge dance party.

The Temple Bar - Sip a pint and wallow in the Irish-ness of this Lakeview spot (the former Fearon's), which got its name from an area in Dublin.

Dos Gringos Trailer Park - The party scene in Wrigleyville gets a Mexican flavor at this colorful new bar in the old Houndstooth Saloon spot. Expect the shots of tequila to flow before and after Cubs games, as the motto here is "Where Wrigleyville meets Cancun."

Got Spaghetti? - A husband-and-wife duo asks the age-old pasta question in Gladstone Park.

Aripos - This Oak Park restaurant specializing in arepas (homemade bread split open and filled with meats and veggies - is set to open this week.


CLOSED:
Green Dolphin Street/Orvieto - The venerable on-the-river club/restaurant abruptly closed its doors this week, just months after reconcepting. -- We were half-right on this one. The restaurant and jazz club is closed, but the club life lives on, including the popular Boom Boom Room Mondays.

Cafe Avanti - The Lakeview cafe closes to make way for a French wine bar.

El Gato Negro - The popular transexual hangout has closed due in part to a "neverending onslaught of abuse and economic hardship," according to its website.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

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Here are some recent Chicago restaurant openings and closings.

OPEN:
Blue Star Wine Bar - Enjoy wine, microbrews, cheese and a full menu of Mediterranean cuisine (kabobs, paninis, flatbreads) at this wine bar in the former Ark Cafe space in Noble Square.
Delhi 6 Cafe - Indian and fusion dishes rule the menu at this coffeehouse in North Center, which has an outdoor patio and hosts Bollywood movie nights.
Just Turkey - This South Side spot opens its second location, serving up BBQ classics made with turkey instead of pork and beef.
Benny's Prime Chop House - The oft-delayed River North upscale steakhouse is finally ready to wow you.
Dolce Casa - The former Ventrella's Caffe has been renovated to create this Lincoln Square spot.


CLOSED:
Va Pensiero - Evanstonites are already mourning the departure of this fine Italian establishment.
Fearon's Pub - The Lakeview Irish bar has closed to make way for...another Lakeview Irish bar. The Temple Bar opens on April 9.
Elliott's Dairy - The Harwood Heights spot has already inspired a Facebook page calling for its return.
Old Town Brasserie - The French restaurant has new owners as of Sunday, and they're making some changes.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.


Here are some recent Chicago restaurant openings.

OPEN:
Sable Kitchen & Bar -- This 158-seat "gastrolounge" is adjacent to the Hotel Palomar in River North.
Rendezvous Bistro -- Expect classic dishes like salade nicoise, steak frites and coq au vin at this French restaurant in Lincoln Square.
Frank's Deli - The folks behind Bertolli's Pizza have opened up an Italian deli/food shop next door in River Forest.

CLOSED:
Bhabi's Kitchen - Guess you'll have to try one of the many other Indian spots in the area around Devon Avenue.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.


Here are some recent Chicago restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Franks 'N' Dawgs - This upscale Lincoln Park meat joint takes the humblest of street foods to the height of culinary sophistication with haute creations like a spicy duck sausage.
Elly's - The popular suburban breakfast joint (with outposts in Mundelein and Arlington Heights) makes its first foray into the city with this Old Town restaurant.
Dee's Place - Settle in with a plate of BBQ chicken and other soul food favorites while listening to live jazz and blues music at this new Ukrainian Village BYOB.
McGonigal's Pub - Expect classic Irish and British fare in Barrington.
Greek Feast - This Northbrook restaurant from the people behind Georgie V's offers everything from gyros to lamb chops.

CLOSING:
Hashalom - The Israeli/Moroccan restaurant will on Devon will serve its last falafel on March 28.

CLOSED (until further notice):
Joe's Taylor Street Sub Shop - The owner of this Little Italy favorite, Joseph Cancilla, passed away on March 15.


Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

OPEN:
M Burger - This burger-and-shake joint shares a kitchen with Tru in Streeterville.
Aldino's - The people behind Mia Francesca and The Purple Pig bring this Italian cafe/market to Little Italy.
Club Blujazz - Finally, a jazz lounge in Wicker Park -- with nightly performances!

CLOSED:
Horan's Snug -- One of Forest Park's most comfortable pubs has turned into a place called Duck Fat Tavern & Grill.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

OPEN:
Tao Ran Ju Restaurant - Get yer goose intestines and duck gizzards at this Chinatown restaurant.
Harry Caray's Tavern (Navy Pier) - It's a meeting of the minds for two of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.
Francesca's on Chestnut - The Italian empire-building continues with this Gold Coast outpost at the Seneca Hotel.

OPENING:
Houndstooth Saloon - After a brief closing, the beloved Lakeview bar is back on Thursday in a new, bigger space a block south of its old location. Watch for Dos Gringos Trailer Park in the old space in the next week or so.

CLOSING:
A Mano - After a few years of serving up rustic Italian cuisine in the heart of downtown, John Caputo's restaurant will close its doors on Saturday, March 6.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Gilt Bar - The Aigre Doux space is busy once again with this gastropub from an all-star lineup.
Second City Subs - This quick-serve sandwich spot near DePaul already feels like it's been around for years.
Ameer Kabob - Call 'em up and order inexpensive Arabian favorites for less than Sultan's Market.
Klopa Grill & Cafe - Serbian BBQ cafe serves up "good food," according to its name.
No Man's Land Pizza & Grill - Wilmette pizzeria offers New York-style slices and grilled sandwiches.

OPENING SOON:
Francesca's on Chestnut - The Italian empire expands with this Gold Coast location (in the Seneca Hotel), open any day now.

CLOSING:
Your Kitchen - You've only got a few more days to get prepared comfort food from this Albany Park spot, which closes March 1.

CLOSED:
Angelo's Taverna (we think) - Papered-over windows, disconnected phone don't bode well, but we're not totally giving up hope for this Old Town Greek eatery.
Marco Polo - Sorry, Skokie, looks like you'll have to get your fried-rice fix elsewhere.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's lists of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Prairie Fire - This new West Loop restaurant comes from the owners of Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe.
Leo's Coney Island - The lines out the door should tell you something about how much a true Coney emporium has been needed in these parts.
The Money Shot - Try to overlook the, um, descriptive name of the place and focus on the sleek look of this Rogers Park restaurant/lounge.
Rice N Roll - Get your favorite Thai, Chinese and sushi dishes at this Albany Park restaurant. As part of its grand opening, the place is offering an entree with soup and an appetizer for $5.95.
Eggsperience Cafe - This 24-hour cafe offers a full range of egg dishes, whenever you want 'em, in River North.
Rockin' Taco - Try the "Friday Night Fight": 10 tacos drowning in hot sauce, which come free if you eat the whole plate with just one drink and one napkin ($16.66 if you don't).
Rehab - The old martini lounge connected to Circuit in Boystown re-opens with a fresh new look and cocktail-heavy menu.

OPENING SOON:
Gilt Bar - Brendan Sodikoff's simple, fun restaurant in the old Aigre Doux space in River North will open later this month.

CLOSED:
Fuego Mexican Grill (Arlington Heights) - If you want your fix of margaritas and tableside guacamole, you may have to go to its Logan Square location.


Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

Here are some recent restaurant/bar openings and closings.

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OPEN:
Lockdown Bar & Grill - Rockin' burgers in a prison-themed space - what more do you need?
Filter - The popular Wicker Park coffeehouse gets a new lease on life, just down the street.
Karyn's on Green - Karyn Calabrese's meatless empire gains another outpost.
Life on Mars - Vegan takeout, just what Logan Square needs.
Prairie Fire - The folks behind Northbrook's Prairie Grass Cafe expand into the West Loop.
The Southern - Comfort food from a Georgia native in the former Chaise Lounge space in Bucktown.
Revolution Brewing - The owner of Handlebar Bar and Grill just opened this Logan Square brewpub.
Longman & Eagle - It's a place to drink craft beer, nosh on gourmet food and, soon, sleep.
Small Bar (Lincoln Park) - Fullerton folks, hope you're ready for soccer and good beer.
The Exchange - You won't miss Lava Lounge when you get a taste of the cocktails at this re-imagined spot.


OPENING SOON:
Leo's Coney Island - Come Monday, true Detroit Coneys will finally be available in Chicago. (We investigated the current options and came away unimpressed).
Forty Carrots - Bloomingdale's shoppers, your light lunch spot arrives this month.


CLOSED:
Costa's - A fire has destroyed this Greektown favorite...for now.
Chaise Lounge - There was only room for one restaurant in this Bucktown space.
Asmara Cafe - Rogers Park Eritrean spot is now a place to get your taxes done.
Accent Cafe - Mt. Prospect residents will have to find another place for Eastern European fare.

Check back here every week for more openings and closings, and be sure to check out Centerstage Chicago's list of new restaurants and bars.

Ciao, Fianco

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How do you say "we hardly knew ye" in Italian?

According to its official Twitter feed, Fianco, the Southport Corridor restaurant that opened in 2009, has closed. Looks like the chef (and his staff) is looking for a job now, if you have any leads (m.d.troost@gmail.com).

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