Media contacts:
Michelle Gonzalez,
Janet Isabelli,
Photography available here

CHICAGO, IL (March 18, 2021) – On the eve of launching the highly anticipated Chicago Restaurant Week 2021 – a 17-day dining extravaganza featuring nearly 300 participating restaurants throughout Chicagoland offering specially curated prix fixe menus with set prices at brunch, lunch, and dinner – Mayor Lori Lightfoot; David Whitaker, President and CEO Choose Chicago; Glenn Eden, Board Chair, Choose Chicago; Sam Toia, President and CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association; and three participating Chicago Restaurant Week chefs planned a surprise lunch and visit for workers stationed at the COVID-19 emergency command post at the Harold Washington Library.

Staffed by members of the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Department of Public Health, and others managing COVID-19’s emergency response teams, the individuals at this command post have worked around the clock for the past 12 months with one mission at heart: To protect Chicagoans. This “First Serve” honored all of the great Chicagoans selflessly serving our great city during these challenging times – thanking them for their unparalleled commitment while providing them with a specially prepared lunch by some of the Chicago Restaurant Week’s lauded dining establishments.

“Without our frontline workers, our city would undoubtedly be in a very different place in our journey with COVID-19,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “By acknowledging their efforts, along with the talent of Chicago’s restaurant owners from all over the city, this special celebration will pay homage to the individuals who have kept our city up and running in more ways than one. I am proud to work with Chicago Restaurant Week to host this exciting event and want to thank each of our frontline workers for their hard work over this past year.”

Participating Chicago Restaurant Week chefs and restaurant owners represent the diversity of Chicago’s culinary landscape and the vibrant communities they serve. Each served a special, pre-packaged lunch for the workers of the emergency command center, featuring:

  • Chef/OwnerMelissa Paolillo, Mango Pickle (Indian cuisine, Edgewater)
    • Lentil “Dal” with basmati rice; crispy pork, kale, curry leaf, whole spices, and a touch of heat, also served with a cup of Mum’s Chai
  • Chef/OwnerTigest Reda, Demera Ethiopian Restaurant (African cuisine, Uptown)
    • Demera Messob (Meat Option)
      • Doro Tibs (Sauteed Chicken Breast)
      • Siga Alicha (Mild Beef Stew)
      • Gomen (Collard Greens)
      • Kay Seer Tibs (Beets & Carrot)
    • Vegetarian Messob (Vegan Option)
      • Misir Wat (Spicy Red Lentils)
      • Gomen (Collard Greens)
      • Yatikilt Wat (Mixed Veggie)
      • Tickle Gomen (Cabbage and Carrot)
  • Injera Bread (gluten-free)
  • Chef/Owner Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar (Southern American cuisine, Hyde Park)
    • Southern fried chicken, collard greens, buttermilk biscuits, hot sauce

“Today was all about celebrating individuals who have been instrumental in keeping Chicago on a path moving forward during unprecedented and challenging times,” said Glenn Eden, Board Chair, Choose Chicago. “Thanking them for their efforts by sharing cuisine from some of our city’s remarkable culinary talent was just a small token of our immense gratitude – while bringing a little piece of Chicago Restaurant Week to them.”

“The chefs and restaurants who joined us at the command center represent the richness of our culinary landscape,” added Sam Toia, President and CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. “They are what Chicago Restaurant Week is all about – great food throughout our neighborhoods – and community. Over the next 17 days, I encourage everyone to try something new, and spread the news about their experiences at restaurants in all four corners of Chicago. Restaurants need this support more than ever.”


Held from Friday, March 19 to Sunday, April 4, 2021 Chicago Restaurant Week 2021 will feature nearly 300 participants (91 first-timers and 35 suburban locales) representing 34 distinct Chicago neighborhoods. For 17 consecutive, dining-packed days, participating dining establishments will showcase specially curated prix fixe menus with prices set at $25 for brunch and lunch, and $39 and/or $55 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, gratuity and delivery). Lending an ideal reason to explore Chicago’s nationally lauded culinary scene, diners can experience new, showstopping restaurants and familiar favorites alike throughout the city’s vibrant communities.

In an effort to support an industry in need, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS) is also offering a special campaign in partnership with the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF) Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. This effort will help provide additional dollars for their one-time, cash grants to hospitality workers facing unforeseen financial strife as a result of the pandemic. The fund has disbursed more than $260,000 to those in need, with continued fundraising efforts in effect.

Choose Chicago has also announced a new ancillary campaign with leading Chicago hotels, “Lunch Is On Us.” Throughout Chicago Restaurant Week, participating hotels will offer special overnight packages featuring a $50 value – the equivalent of a Chicago Restaurant Week lunch for two. Encouraging Chicagoans to book a Chicago Restaurant Week-themed getaway, “Lunch Is On Us” provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy a relaxing overnight visit filled with food, fun, and the world-class hospitality for which Chicago is lauded. Participating hotels offer a range of experiences from a variety of properties from value to luxury. $50 value-adds include room rate discounts, food and beverage credits, discounted parking, and more – savings that can go towards a Chicago Restaurant Week lunch for two. A complete list of participating hotels to date is listed here.

Reservations are available now at

Chicago Restaurant Week 2021 is sponsored by 100.3 FM WSHE, 101.9 FM The MIX, OpenTable, Smithfield Culinary, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and Yelp.

Fans are encouraged to follow @choosechicago on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tag #ChicagoRestaurantWeek.

# # #

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. Follow @ChooseChicago on Twitter and on Instagram @choosechicago. Like us on Facebook. For more, visit #ChicagoHome | #Only1Chicago

About Illinois Restaurant Association

Founded in 1914, the Illinois Restaurant Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, educating and improving the restaurant industry in Illinois. The IRA owns and produces Chicago Gourmet – the annual food and wine festival uniting hundreds of restaurants, chefs and beverage experts for a weekend filled with food and drink tastings, entertainment, cooking demonstrations, book signings, interactive seminars and more. For more information about the Illinois Restaurant Association, visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.