Stuffed pizza stalwart Giordano's had its grand opening last night in the South Loop. Even though I swore I could never eat a morsel or drink a drop at the infamous location--1340 S. Michigan--that they decided to renovate into a very attractive restaurant, I changed my mind.
The pizza was great, and so were the complimentary meatballs--and garlic shrimp--on a stick; the beer was free. And I had a great time sitting at the bar, chatting--and taking in the lively crowd.
The reason I said I could never patronize the place is its history. Until a few years ago, it was the Cook County Domestic Violence courthouse (which is now located at 555 W. Harrison in a beautifully renovated building, as well). Within those walls, misery ruled the roost. Helplessness, bad choices, sociopathy, all manner of human frailty and rottenness permeated the air.
I assumed I wouldn't be able to sit and eat and enjoy myself in that building. (And by the way, the upstairs where the courtrooms were is being converted to loft apartments, so some people are actually going to live there.) I thought I'd think of nothing else but how the emotional dregs of human relationships paraded in and out of the doors for a very long time. I thought nothing would go through my mind but pain and terror and blood and bruises. Of children being scarred for life. Of people being imprisoned in a circle of cruelty and ignorance and strife. One after the other after the other after the other.
But last night I realized that Giordano's got the bad juju out. The people there looked happy. Families and kids and people of all ages came to see the special guests, retired Chicago Bear lineman James "Big Cat" Williams and Chicago Bear mascot Staley Da Bear.
It's a new world at 1340 S. Michigan. But in spite of being able to eat, drink and be merry there now, I'll never forget what used to go on.
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