Predictions for Chicago Restaurants in 2012

Predictions for Chicago Restaurants in 2012

Last year, I tried to channel the Mayan deity Chacmool to ensure I had good predictions! I’m not willing to hedge my bets just yet with 2012 still looming because who knows if this version of the rapture is all wrong or very right? I think I’ll let it ride for now. But next year, I’m leaning towards Jupiter as my new muse – Roman, mean and a bit more sarcastic then his Greek doppelganger Zeus.

But let’s recap how I did with last year’s predictions…here’s the full 2011 list.

Some correct Guesses/Predictions from last year!

  • Farm to Table still haven’t improved their marketing strategy. For the record, I did go to a farm dinner.
  • I took the over on Michelin rated restaurants closing at 2 – Avenues, Kith & Kin, otom and Veerasway – definite crystal ball action on that one!
  • I swear I saw David Tamarkin in a non-hoodie, solid sweater at Hamburger Hop!
  • Boka Group did seemingly put boot to throat when the KDK Redlight closure was announced. Who’s in that space now? Right… Nostradamus ain’t got a quatrain on me.
  • FDA – named pizza as a vegetable confirming they would screw local children despite the Michelle Obama push for locally grown food. You’re thinking --- OH YA!
  • Paul Virant did move to Chicago! Winner, Chicken dinner – very local, from across the street chicken.
  • Guy Fieri hit a speed bump when Minute to Win it wasn’t renewed yet. It’s still not officially cancelled! Chacmool you crazy SOB make it happen!

Ok enough looking back let’s see what my drunken, black out nights have conjured for this year!

2012 Predictions – you hear the theme music to right?

  • Audarshia Townsend, the 312 Dining Diva - @IAmAudarshia - obvi, breaks her Retweet button by Jan 3rd only to move to her computer for twitter when she spills a Negroni on the keyboard making her CAPS LOCK STICK! FOLLOW AT YOUR OWN RISK!
  • Ellen Malloy, Restaurant Intelligence Agency, in a shocking move declares traditional PR isn’t dead! Burson Marstellar continues making millions.
  • Michelin rated restaurants continue to close due to stupid business decisions proving art doesn’t imitate business – over under is 3. I think it’ll be a push.
  • In a shocking move of détente, Brendan Sodikoff and the Boka Group hold a meeting at the Hall of Justice (a yet to be opened Jared VanCamp gastro pub) to carve up part of the city landscape with special consideration for the Achatz/Kokonas factor.
  • In related, Achatz/Kokonas news, still possessing the precious, their auto-biographical movie is announced and it involves a reunion for Brad Pitt and George Clooney to work again. When asked his thoughts, Grant is quoted, “I thought Brad had all the tools from looks to physical prowess to play me. Clooney will definitely pull off Nick’s hair and humor.”
  • Brandon Baltzley just left another chef job… Wait, did James Toland just tweet his kitchen team quit again. Its Eater’s fault or is it Julia Kramer’s at TOC? Ah forget about it, I’m confused from all the blustering…
  • Michael Nagrant, food critic Sun-Times, and Mike Sula, food critic Chicago Reader, both win the inaugural “Cicero and Cato Award” for their ethical standards of restaurant reviewing, REPUBLIC, REPUBLIC! If you know you’re history, you know I’m right and yes, I just went all Dennis Miller with these predictions.
  • Monica Eng writes about the CPS food programs, again, and someone at CPS finally tries to read it but with the whole language method can’t get past the first sentence. Sou-nd it o-ut! Our kids eat pizza for vegetables.
  • Chef Grant Achatz, Alinea and Next, agrees to play Lightning Round 20 Questions – all questions are yes/no answers.
  • Philip Foss finally stops making bad balls tweets only to start making wiener jokes for his new hot dog truck, FML!
  • I think Mastro’s just got bigger – because they wanted to.
  • Jared VanCamp announces he’s opening a butcher shop called the Locker where guests have to butcher their own meat off the whole animal. Rob Levitt is found at The Butcher & Larder seething he didn’t think of it first. FYI, Jared holds Fight Club every Tuesday in the basement.
  • Paul Kahan thinks about opening a restaurant and it is immediately declared amazing and has a cult following before its uttered from his lips. The most interesting man in Chicago!
  • Kevin Pang, Chicago Tribune, gets a black eye when he brings ketchup from home to Gene and Jude’s!
  • BLT proves cavernous restaurant projects aren’t dead, yet.
  • Steve Dolinsky, the Hungry Hound, tweets about a horrible dinner at Everest and offers a contest where everyone can shit all over the experience with the prize being a gift card to Paris Club.
  • Speaking of Paris Club – The Melman progeny decide to also open a true Southern inspired restaurant by partnering with the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Keeping with the theme of splash and sass over substance.
  • Pump Room realizes they have to rehire Billy Dec, guy who takes pictures in hats, for a day so they can turn off the restaurant theme song – “I’m Sexy and I know it.” Where is that DJ booth?
  • A steak house IN Chicago re-concepts, or closes!!! Something has to give, right? I call this the Chic-fil-A factor.
  • While reading this you don’t know it yet but another burger place opened next to a cupcake, macaroon shop that is hyper-locavore focused. It’s probably grass fed beef, as well.
  • A Michelin rated Chef tells them, “No thanks, you can keep the star.” The French don’t even notice.
  • A major chef the likes of Thomas Keller, Mario Batali or Daniel Boulud decide to come and open a place in Chicago. Chacmool make it happen!
  • The Sun Times makes a serious effort to take on the Food section at the Tribune making Chicagoans happy to have dueling newspapers. Everyone clicking is made to pay, it is the Chicago way.
  • Food Truck Legislation actually gets voted on and passed by the city council while at the same time in a weird twist BANNING all “pop-ups” unless you use the magic words Hocus Pocus or was it Feed Sesame?
  • Fried Chicken is the next Burger. It’s right there….flirting with the outskirts of menu-dom…come in to the light! Make the Colonel proud.
  • A “fine dining” chef opens a “casual” restaurant and smirks while admitting under their breath they won’t be charging any less despite the lack of “finery.” Keeping alive the $30+ chicken entrée paradox.

Last but certainly not least…

I raise money for Taste of the Nation buy doing the Chicago Triathlon. Anyone want to join me? More info to follow…

Phew, I am tired from the blood-letting…Chacmool is a greedy being! But, if I’m remotely as good this year as last, I’ll be curious to see the fall out! Have an awesome end of the year and I’m excited to see what 2012 brings to our fair city when it comes to dining excitement.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at Joe also contributes to Chicago.



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  • One easy one to predict, based on your Michelin bullet point.

    A good number of restaurants will close. Some other restaurants will take over the suddenly more economic spaces. Others may be taken over by bank branches.

    Will the horrible meal at Everest get worse because Alpana Singh isn't selecting the wine?

    As far as the muse, most Chicago restauranteurs use Zeus and his family.

  • In reply to jack:

    But you would think Michelin would save some stupidity! As to Everest I haven't been but I have no doubt the wine people are solid. Why Zeus? I was also thinking maybe DaVinci

  • In reply to Joe Campagna:

    Just think who owns or operates most of the restaurants (number wise) in the Chicago area not affiliated with a chain. Not just the gyros stands, but the New Orleans ones, the trefe Jewish ones, some of the pizza joints, the purported inventors of the Chicago style hot dog, ... 'Nuff said.

    I don't think they have taken over the various Asian cuisine ones though, so far.

    BTW, speaking of Spam, you have some below. And not the type Rick Bayliss categorized as carnitas in a vacuum pack cooked in an immersion bath and pressed.

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