The New Normal

Six weeks ago, “Zoom” was what I used to adjust the size of the font on my laptop. Now a Zoom of another sort is what I use to attend classes, visit with family, and conduct interviews. For restaurants, wineries and an endless number of small businesses, the new technology offers an opportunity to connect with their customer base and-if possible- to expand it.


 I scoffed when a friend wintering in Las Vegas told me he’d had to place a delivery order for groceries nearly two weeks in advance. Convinced that the situation in Chicago was far better, I started calling local groceries and delivery companies, only to discover that the situation in Chicago was much the same. Frustrated,  I suited up and went to Whole Foods.

Days later, I tried again. The wait times were shorter, but “quick” was a word that has-seemingly- been erased from the vocabulary. Then I received an email from the publicist for the City Fresh Metra Market on north Clinton Street, virtually the only venue still open in the French Market food hall just north of Ogilvie Station. It seems I could place an order before noon,  and then pick up the groceries after 12 p.m on the following day.

I called. Manager Rey Suarez said the pick-up option was new, adding that it was a response to conditions created by the Coronavirus. The market also delivers, but picking up the groceries myself was easier and more efficient. 

The City Fresh Metra Market is an offshoot  of the full service City Fresh Market on Devon Avenue. I used the online shopping list for the Devon Avenue store to put together my order. Items that weren’t available at the French Market location were sent downtown during the 24-hours between placing the order and picking it up.

Taking advantage of the larger store’s Eastern European slant I wound up ordering two items unique to that location: a puffy, circular  flatbread called “somen” and a sour cherry “preserve” imported from Romania.

Promptly at noon the following day, I drove to the entrance to the market at 131 N. Clinton ( one-way going south), pulled over, and called Rey to tell him I was outside. Minutes later, he came out carrying my order and put it in the trunk. As it turned out, the three Asian eggplants on my list were the only items that weren’t available. 

As customers and purveyors adjust to the “new normal,” the overall timeline for pick-up and delivery is getting shorter. These aren’t “new” services, but for a lot of consumers, it’s a personal first. What happens post-Coronavirus is anyone’s guess, but it’s for sure that ordering online and then opting for delivery or pick-up is an efficient way to shop.

City Fresh Market, 3201 W. Devon Avenue  773.681.8600

City Fresh Metra Market, 131 N. Clinton Street 312.575.0230


Shaw’s Crab House


On Wednesday, April 22 at 6pm, Chef Naoki Nakashima will be hosting a sushi rolling session at Shaw’s Crab House via Facebook. A sushi kit, priced at $30 (per person, plus tax), can be pre-ordered until April 21 at noon. Pick-up is at Shaw’s Crab House, located at 21 E Hubbard St. between 11 am and 5:30 pm on April 22. 

The sushi kit includes ingredients to make a tuna and cucumber hand roll, a salmon avocado hand roll, and a yellowtail scallion hand roll. Also included are an edamame guacamole Asian salad and a passion fruit pot de creme. 

The kit, which would have been part of the on-site demonstration, gives viewers the opportunity to hone their skills, albeit online.

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