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NATO Summit Leaves Lasting Impression on South Loop Businesses

Small businesses throughout the South Loop have been widely affected by the NATO Summit and its protesters currently occupying the streets of Chicago.

South Loop Businesses Boarded Up (Photo Credit: Tim Shaunnessey)

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant manager Danny Misio noted an increase in police presence near the Michigan Avenue watering hole, along with a decrease in traffic and revenue.  The restaurant recently added the “NATO Special” to their menu, which is available through the weekend.

“It’s slower; however, we decided to stay open for the neighborhood to give our regular guests a place to go,” Misio said.

The converted firehouse is located on the corner of 14th Street and Michigan Avenue at 1401 South Michigan Avenue.  The building was erected in 1905 to serve the Prairie Avenue Community, which included families such as the Marshall Fields, the McCormicks, the Palmers and the Glessners.  They are also offering triple points to reward members this weekend in an effort to draw business.

“It’s a way to give back to our regular guests that do decide to venture out at this time,” Misio said.

Robert Fioretti, Chicago’s 2nd Ward Alderman, issued an email to members of the community earlier this week highlighting various issues set to affect area residents.

“Some modest service impacts are anticipated for mail destined for 606 zip codes. Contingency plans are being implemented to minimize these impacts,” Fioretti said.

Due to the size and scope of the event, many Chicagoans have begun experiencing delays in their commute, mail delivery and other public services.  Restrictions are set in place for street parking and loitering, along with a number of businesses opting to board their windows and doors for the duration of the summit.

“While the actual Summit will be held at McCormick Place, other events and designated secured transportation routes for delegates will impact retail locations,” Fioretti said.  “The possible impacts could occur from now until May 22, with peak impacts from May 18-22.”

South Loop Club manager Dimitri noted a decrease in foot traffic around the State Street tavern, leaving a certain effect on their bottom line. Considered a neighborhood novelty by many, Dimitri noted the club’s owners were adamant about maintaining regular hours of operation and staff expectations in order to serve the people of Chicago.

Boarded Businesses in the South Loop (Photo Credit: Tim Shaunnessey)

The effects of NATO have been amplified by the increased police presence, with more than 40 percent of Illinois’s law enforcement officials currently patrolling the city.

On Thursday, the Fraternal Order of Police introduced a month-long advertising campaign with billboards on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Stevenson expressways that read, “Keep Chicago Safe. Hire More Police Officers.”  Similar ads will also be posted on CTA transit and digital screens throughout Chicago.

Many local businesses, including Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, have extended their hospitality to patrol officers by providing them with water and coffee.

While minor setbacks have been reported by South Loop residents, most plan for business as usual to commence Tuesday, May 22.

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