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Brendan Sodikoff Debuts New Italian Spot, Ciccio Mio

Plus: Founders Brewing flounders, a local White Claw alternative, and two restaurateurs take a stand against tipped minimum wage

Photo: Courtesy of Ciccio Mio

A new Italian restaurant has hit River North — and it’s from Hogsalt Hospitality. When owner Brendan Sodikoff tried to go Japanese, the resulting restaurant, Radio Anago, was not a hit, garnering a memorably negative zero-star review from our own Jeff Ruby. Radio Anago closed in May and has been replaced with Ciccio Mio, an Italian spot with lots of pastas and classic dishes, like chicken parm, lasagna Bolognese, and shrimp scampi. Cocktails are similarly classic, but fun, like a shaved ice drink doused with three types of amaro.

Writing in Eater Chicago, Honey Butter Fried Chicken co-owners Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski have penned an editorial calling for the elimination of the tipped minimum wage. For those that don’t know, the tipped minimum wage is a special, much lower minimum wage for workers who receive tips, a structure that shifts the cost of restaurant labor from restaurant owners onto diners and, inevitably, makes their wages unpredictable. Cikowski and Kulp lay out the issue, eventually calling on the City Council to enact a $15 minimum wage for all, including tipped workers. They’ve also put their money where their mouths are — Honey Butter Fried Chicken does not use the tipped minimum wage.

Finally, the space that was (my dearly beloved) Intro will now house a new restaurant. Lettuce Entertain You is teaming up with the Alinea Group to bring back an iconic Chicago French restaurant: Ambria. It’s now going to be in the Belden-Stratford building that also houses Naoki and Mon Ami Gabi, and will open early next year.

Are you a fan of White Claw? It’s ok, you can admit it — I will, though I prefer the available-at-Costco version, Truly, more than ’Claw. There’s now a local alternative, and Josh Noel at the Tribune says it’s great. City Water, a hard seltzer made by Solemn Oath Brewing in Naperville, is now available at stores throughout the city. 

Speaking of Mr. Noel, if you’re a geek about the beer industry, you should really read a thread he posted on Twitter a few days ago. It’s about how Goose Island changed the way it markets its flagship Bourbon County Stout, and it’s an interesting glimpse into how a brand goes from local to national, and how the brand appears to have blackballed Chicago’s most prominent beer critic and expert. 

It’s a big week for beer news. If you haven’t heard by now, Founders Brewing is in the midst of a huge mess. A former employee sued them for racial discrimination, then the owner gave an absolutely bonkers deposition testimony in which he refused to confirm that he knew that employee was black (or, for that matter, that he knew Barack Obama or Michael Jordan are black). The fallout has been swift — many Chicago bars have stopped carrying Founders products, and they’ve closed their Detroit taproom.

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