South Loop comes back to life Monday after NATO’s close
BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter email@example.com May 21, 2012 7:14PM
Reporters, photographers and police watch the action from the rooftop of a Papa John's pizzeria during an anti-NATO rally at S. Michigan Ave. and Cermak Rd. Sunday, May 20, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: May 22, 2012 10:42AM
The South Loop neighborhood, next to McCormick Place Convention Center, site of world leaders’ discussions of Afghanistan and other weighty global issues, started coming back to life Monday after a weekend blocked off by concrete barricades, ringed by police, buzzed by helicopters and separated from traffic by snowplows, trucks and other barriers.
Even some of those businesses most enthusiastic about the summit ended up closing shop. Michigan Avenue from Roosevelt south was lined with boardups, everything from spas to a personal-training site to medical offices.
Papa John’s Pizza at 80 E. Cermak, was doubling its staff and putting pizza drivers on bicycles to serve people staying inside their homes over the weekend. But the pizzeria closed at noon Sunday — hours before its corner, Michigan and Cermak, became Ground Zero for clashes between police and protesters. The restaurant’s owners were not available Monday.
Cafe Society, 1801 S. Indiana, whose owner-chef Jorge Armando said “Chicago should open its doors” to the summit and was looking forward to the crowds, closed after it became clear Friday that locals were getting away for the weekend and that traffic was more extensively rerouted than he had thought.
“We were isolated by the planning” for street closures and reroutes, he said Monday.
Perhaps the next time Chicago puts on such a momentous event, the city will employ more of its local businesses to serve dignitaries, their entourages and other guests, he said.
Two other restaurants that had expected to stay open for the weekend instead closed: Thai restaurant Ma & I, 1234 S. Michigan Ave., and Triad Sushi Lounge, 1933 S. Indiana. But both reopened Monday.
A holdout in the 1200 block of South Michigan Avenue, fruit-basket franchise Edible Arrangements, took only two orders on Sunday, but owner Robin Soroka praised Chicago police for doing a fabulous job of maintaining order and keeping the neighborhood safe.