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Big Star and Manny’s Deli Offer Free Meals

Plus, other novel ways the local food industry is adapting to COVID-19

Big Star tacos   PHOTO: SANDY NOTO

While there isn’t much “restaurant news” in the traditional sense, there’s still a lot going on in the food world as places adapt to delivery, pickup, charity, service, and more. These are some of the most interesting new options this week.

Big Star has converted its Wicker Park location into a restaurant workers relief center, in partnership with the nationwide work being done by chef Edward Lee. The restaurant is offering free meals to recently unemployed restaurant workers, along with free bags of groceries. Distribution starts at 5 p.m. every night – bring something to show you’ve recently been employed at a restaurant.

One of my favorite services, Farmer’s Fridge, is obviously facing a problem: No one can actually get to most of their fridges, which are located in offices throughout the city. Luckily, the company started delivering yesterday, so you can get their salads and other food items in your own home. They’re also offering discounts at all of their fridges located in healthcare settings and increasing their donations to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Order online at delivery.farmersfridge.com.

You can still get amazing meats in a difficult time. Publican Quality Meats has started a digital butcher shop where you can order all of your favorite local meats for pickup or delivery. Things like a cook-at-home Publican chicken, a Slagel Farms ribeye, or a daily selection of charcuterie are all available. 

El Che Bar is holding a pop-up butcher shop on Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. with cuts like ribeyes and filets, plus chorizo, lamb chops, and other products. Place your order here.

Manny’s Deli is offering free meals to first responders. The deli still has its regular menu for pickup and delivery, but it’s asking for donations to keep all of their employees working and helping out all of those frontline personnel who still have to go to work to keep the city safe. Donate and order here.

Dining at a Distance has recently added a local farms database to help you shop for produce, veggies, flowers, and meat even when farmers markets are closed. Check out their site and, if you know of a local farm that isn’t here, encourage them to get listed.

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