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big star, Cassie Stadnicki, wicker park
Photograph: Cassie Stadnicki

Chicago’s unemployed restaurant workers can pick up dinner and groceries at Big Star

Emma Krupp

UPDATE: Due to concerns about staff safety, One Off Hospitality Group will no longer provide carryout services, which has put an end to Big Star's dinner and grocery program. Instead, The LEE Initiative will partner with The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group—which has already launched a no-contact free meal program in Wicker Park—to create a new workers relief center at West Town Bakery (1916 W Chicago Ave), where recently unemployed restaurant workers will be offered a free meal and grocery essentials every night from 4 to 6:30 pm. Like before, there will be 250 meals and grocery packs available per night, and workers must present ID and a recent pay stub. 

Chicago restaurant workers, many of whom have been left without a job and reliable source of income after the recent ban of of dine-in restaurant services, have a new way to catch a break during these difficult times. Starting Tuesday, March 24, Big Star's Wicker Park location will transform into a temporary headquarters for restaurant workers' relief, distributing to-go dinners and prepackaged bags of groceries to unemployed restaurant staffers.

The setup is first come, first served, but anyone who presents valid ID and a recent restaurant pay stub can receive dinner and a bag full of groceries, which includes canned goods, proteins, veggies and other basic staples. A collaboration between Chicago restaurant group One Off Hospitality (the folks behind Big Star, Avec and The Publican), The LEE Initiative and Maker's Mark, the pop-up will run daily from 5 to 7pm, with 250 meal-and-grocery combos available per night. And don't worry: A designated system of line-spacing will ensure social distancing as people come to collect their groceries and dinner. The group plans to keep nightly operations up and running through the end of quarantine, or as long as supplies last.  

If you'd like to help support the restaurant relief efforts, you can make a donation here. Donors can also opt to send food or other basics (think paper towels, diapers and toilet paper) via Amazon to the Wicker Park Big Star, located at 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622.

Discover more ways to support locals bars and restaurants during this time.

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