Afternoon Edition: Feb. 16, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Bulldozers demolish the building that housed Pegasus restaurant this week.

Sun-Times staff

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

Editor’s note: The lead story in yesterday’s newsletter incorrectly referred to the wife of Louis Armstrong as “Lin Hardin.” Her name was Lil Hardin. We apologize for the error.

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 54 degrees, wind gusts as high as 45 mph and a 70% chance of precipitation. Tonight will see showers and a wintry mix with a low around 28. Tomorrow will be snowy with a high near 29 and new snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches. A winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. tomorrow.

Top story

Two Greektown favorites torn down, exposing old mural — and changing face of neighborhood

In 1990, Yiannis Melidis hired a painter to create a mural that would stretch along an inside wall of Pegasus, the Greek restaurant he was building.

The artist came at night after construction workers left. Yiannis and his wife, Maria provided him with a picture book of the Greek islands for inspiration and obliged a request from the artist to provision him nightly with a six pack of Old Style and several polish sausages from vendors on nearby Maxwell Street.

“After a week he hadn’t started anything,” recalled the couple’s son, Ceasar Melidis, who said his parents thought: “This guy’s just eating and drinking and sleeping and staring at walls.”

Once he got started, though, he was done in three days. The mural became a well-known feature in a restaurant that became a mainstay of Greektown for nearly three decades. It closed in 2017 following a rent hike.

This week, the building was reduced to rubble. The mural, which shares a wall with an adjoining building, was all that remained.

It shows the evolving face of Greektown. The Pan Hellenic Pastry Shop also closed in 2017, while two other mainstay restaurants, Roditys and Parthenon, closed within about a year of Pegasus shutting its doors. Costa’s burned down more than a decade ago.

Santorini, which was immediately next door to Pegasus, closed in the fall of 2020 after 31 years in operation. It was also demolished this week.

Many other businesses and restaurants along Halsted are Greek-owned and maintain a decidedly Greek characteristic, but most Greeks who lived there have moved out of the neighborhood, often to the suburbs.

And the development that has transformed much of the West Loop, specifically the high-priced Fulton Market district just to the north, is changing the face of Greektown, too.

Despite those who lament the changing face of Greektown, business owners agreed that an influx of young urban adults professionals coming into the area will translate to more customers.

“We’re not threatened by new development,” said Tessie Koumi, owner of Spectrum Bar & Grill in Greektown, who ticked off a list of other Greek restaurants that continue to make the neighborhood a destination, such as the much-loved Greek Islands. “We’re here to stay and there will always be a strong Greek element here.”

Mitch Dudek has more on Greektown changes here.

More news you need

  1. The body of an Antioch man who was reported missing after an accident last month on I-94 has been pulled from the Des Plaines River near Libertyville. Thomas “Tommy” Howe, 24, was involved in a crash with another vehicle on Jan. 22 along I-94 near Route 176, according to Antioch police. Witnesses saw him walk away and he had not been spotted since.
  2. Illinois gamblers wagered nearly $61 million on the Super Bowl, a 33% increase from last year when the big game was on the board legally for the first time in state history. The biggest day on the sports betting calendar saw Illinois sportsbooks come out on top to the tune of $9.5 million, according to figures released by the Illinois Gaming Board.
  3. The once-a-decade process of redrawing Chicago’s ward boundaries based on the latest census data took a dramatic turn today with the potential to tip the scales in a voter referendum — even if it changes no City Council votes. Fran Spielman has more on an alliance between the Latino Caucus and the CHANGE Illinois Action Fund that Victor Reyes, an adviser to the Latino Caucus, called a potential “game-changer” in the upcoming remap referendum.
  4. Farmstead, a new online grocery service, is now offering nearby deliveries of a variety of food products from local and national brands, in addition to fresh, locally sourced produce. The service delivers in a 50 miles radius of its Franklin Park warehouse, including the entire city of Chicago, stretching nearly to the Wisconsin border and as far south as Joliet.
  5. Registration is open to participate in the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, with this year’s dip set for March 6 at North Avenue Beach. Among the plungers you’ll see this year: Chicago Party Aunt creator Chris Witaske.

A bright one

Dom Flemons’ old-time songs celebrate the many traditions of American music

Dom Flemons is a walking encyclopedia of old-time American music. Singer, multi-instrumentalist, historian, scholar, collector and anthropologist are all elements of his decades-long devotion to uncovering and presenting music that might have been lost if not for his effort to preserve it.

Flemons’ concert performances are a unique cultural history lesson that will open your ears to classics as well as his original songs written with an old-time flavor. His repertoire covers over 100 years of American music based in African American culture. He is considered an expert player on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife and rhythm bones.

Flemons’ most recent album, 2018’s “Black Cowboys,” was recorded as part of Smithsonian Folkways’ African American Legacy series. The Grammy-nominated album shines a light on a little-known aspect of African American history.

“The whole of American music has the ability to really enlighten people, says singer/multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons.

Dom Flemons performs at Old Town School of Folk Music this Friday.

Timothy Duff

Flemons, who grew up in Phoenix and attended Northern Arizona University, eventually landed in Durham, North Carolina, where he was a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a string band that also featured acclaimed roots artist Rhiannon Giddens and was known for bridging old-timey music, bluegrass, folk and blues. Their 2010 album won a Grammy for best traditional folk album.

At the start of the pandemic, Flemons and his family left Washington, D.C., for Naperville to be closer to his wife’s family. During the past two years he’s kept busy working on songs for a new album as well as performing on Tyler Childers’ current Grammy-nominated album, “Long Violent History,” and Fantastic Negrito’s “White Jesus Black Problems.”

Now Flemons is focused on getting back on stage. He feels it’s a way to give people a boost as the country tries to get a handle on a new normal.

“It’s a way to show people that in spite of it all there’s a resilience and power to the music that comes from this country and the multi-faceted experiences of people that go back generations. The whole of American music has the ability to really enlighten people.”

Mary Houlihan has more from her interview with Flemons here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s one now-demolished Chicago building you miss?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: How do you know when you’ve spent too much time on social media?

Here’s what some of you said…

“When I’ve missed the whole movie I was trying to watch.” — Kim Riley-Richardson

“When I keep grabbing for my phone and am seeing the same memes.” — Julien Christopher Smasal

“When you look at a post. Then you go to a poster. Look at their page. Then go look at their friends page. After looking at their friends page, you realize one friend looks familiar. You go to their page, and see their public post, with over 100 comments. You read all the 100 comments. After reading them all, it’s time for bed.” — Kathy Vehovc

“Mind ya business, Sun-Times.” — Quincy Lewis Santomieri

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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