We love Chicago. You love Chicago. Which is why it’s so hard to see what’s happening in Chicago right now. Restaurant workers are being laid off, healthcare professionals are battling on the frontlines, and people who need a hot meal are having a hard time getting one.
But you should also know about all the amazing ways that Chicago restaurants are supporting people in need right now, and how you can support them as well. Chefs and restaurant teams are delivering pizzas to hospitals, providing free lunches for school kids and first responders, and making to-go kits for those who have been laid off or furloughed.
We’ll be using this guide to highlight restaurant initiatives around the city that are giving back to the Chicago community. And we’ll be updating the list as we learn about more. For additional resources, information, and Infatuation-hosted fundraising projects visit our page here.
Every day from 4-6:30pm, West Town Bakery is giving out 250 meals, and bags of groceries and essentials to service industry people who are struggling right now. They just need to show ID and have some identifying paperwork to prove recent employment at a restaurant (like a paystub). It’s in partnership with the Restaurant Workers Relief Fund and the LEE initiative, a foundation from a Kentucky chef that’s helping restaurants around the country provide meals for furloughed restaurant employees. Visit this site if you want to learn more.
This Wicker Park bar is doing the same thing as West Town Bakery - for anyone in need, not just restaurant workers. All meals are first come, first served, from 4-6:30pm, every day except Mondays. It’s also in partnership with the Restaurant Workers Relief Fund and the LEE initiative, and you can visit this site if you want to learn more.
Baker Miller has been making meals and donating them to organizations like brkthru that fight poverty, and local hospitals (like Swedish Covenant). Right now they’re selling handmade facemasks for $10, and all proceeds go towards their meal program. They’re available for purchase at their walkup window.
This Pilsen spot is offering “pay what you can” family meal pickup (with things like lasagna and garlic bread, or patty melts) to help industry employees and anyone struggling - people just pay what they can. They’re accepting donations by phone at 312-526-3851.
Lao Sze Chuan Restaurant - Downtown/Michigan Ave
The downtown location of this Chinese restaurant is participating in the Meals Of Love For Frontline Heroes program, where they donate meals to frontline workers. Check out their Instagram for more information.
Saint Lou's Assembly
St. Lou’s Assembly is part of an initiative to organize twice-daily meal drop-offs to the healthcare workers at Rush Hospital. They partnered with Gordon Food Service to create a rotating selection of prepackaged meals for drops at both 11:45am and 5:45pm five days a week.
Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink
The owners of Machine coordinate a hospitality meal program, giving out over 200 dinners to restaurant workers in need. They also donate and deliver meals to local hospitals for healthcare workers, as well as flower giveaways outside the restaurant.
Dimo’s Pizza is donating food and take-and-bake meals to people working the front line - like the Covid-19 ICU unit at Northwestern Hospital. And when you buy one of their take-and-bake pizza kits, a portion of the proceeds will go to continuing to support these healthcare workers. Here is their site - also, it’s pretty funny, so we suggest giving it a thorough read.
Honeybear Cafe in Rogers Park is feeding the ER and ICU nurses, doctors, and staff members of St. Francis Hospital in Evanston on a weekly basis. They’re collecting donations via Venmo, and you can check out their Instagram to learn more.
For every $100 in sales, Burrito Beach donates $10 towards feeding healthcare workers. If you want to learn more, go to their website and “buy a hero a burrito”. People can purchase a gift card and write a thank you note for someone working at Northwestern Hospital.
If you bring in any protective gear to Happy Camper (like sealed masks, goggles, or face shields), you get 50% off your order - and they’ll donate it to hospital workers. They’ve also been sending pizzas to hospitals with the Anthony Rizzo Foundation, and have dropped meals off at Sarah’s Circle - an organization that supports homeless women.
Paradise Park is also donating protective gear to hospital workers, just like Happy Camper. Bring some in, and you get 50% off your order.
Though they’re temporarily closed, Haisous has been consistently helping out people since this whole terrible thing started. From donating meals to people in Pilsen in need to helping other small businesses navigate this scary time. Here is a list of charities they feel strongly about.
Carnitas Uruapan has launched a campaign to feed first responders. They are donating at least 150 meals a week to hospitals throughout the crisis. Check out their Instagram to learn more.
The head chef of Frontera Grill (Rick Bayless) partnered with US Foods to do some good. They’re paying laid-off workers to sort groceries, then sending those groceries to restaurants around the city to give to their laid-off employees.
Piece Pizza has been donating pizza to the police department, and the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications - those are the folks who help when you call 911.