Afternoon Edition: May 11, 2022

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

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The building located at 605 N. Clark St. is the former home of The Rainforest Cafe.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

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.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 90 degrees. Tonight will be partly cloudy with a low near 67. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high near 87.

Top story

Planned Rainforest Cafe pot shop relies on permit scored by white businessman with a decades-old weed arrest

A clout-heavy pot firm’s bid to open a dispensary at the site of the old Rainforest Cafe now hinges on its partnership with a startup led by the white chief executive of a major moving company who scored a social equity license based on a decades-old weed arrest.

Those details emerged during a contentious community meeting last night at Maggiano’s Banquets in River North, where residents and advocates peppered officials from the two companies with questions about safety and security, the close proximity to multiple existing pot shops and their social equity bonafides.

“Between the casino discussions and four dispensaries in the neighborhood, you don’t have to project too far to understand what the future looks,” one resident said derisively after the meeting, which another described as a “trainwreck.”

The meeting marks the latest stumbling block for Progressive Treatment Solutions, or PTS, a company with deep ties to city government that initially sought to move its dual-use Consume dispensary from Jefferson Park to the colorful building that previously housed the Rainforest Cafe at 605 N. Clark St.

PTS eventually conceded that plan was illegal under state law and partnered with Bio-Pharm, which scored a license to run a recreational dispensary in a state-run lottery. Like other new permits, Bio-Pharm’s was prioritized to so-called social equity applicants in an effort to diversify the state’s lily white cannabis industry.

Pressed on how the company qualified for that special status, Bio-Pharm’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Munroe told the crowd in hushed tones that his father, Michael F. Munroe Jr., had a cannabis-related arrest from the 1970s. Michael F. Munroe Jr. is Bio-Pharm’s majority owner and the CEO of Pickens-Kane, which touts itself as “the largest commercial relocation company” in Illinois.

Tom Schuba has more on the fate of the dispensary here.

More news you need

  1. A passenger on a Metra BNSF train was killed this morning when the train struck a semi-trailer in west suburban Clarendon Hills, according to the transit agency. Metra train service was suspended “indefinitely,” and BNSF riders were urged to seek alternative transportation for the afternoon commute, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.
  2. One day after a mass shooting in Back of the Yards, Police Supt. David Brown blamed a convicted felon who was recently arrested on gun charges but released on cash bond despite his violent record. Brown did not say exactly what role the 28-year-old is suspected of playing in the shooting, which wounded five teens — killing one of them.
  3. A teen was shot on Michigan Avenue near “The Bean” yesterday evening, the latest in a series of recent attacks in the Loop. The 19-year-old was riding in the back seat of a vehicle when someone opened fire around 10:20 p.m. in the first block of North Michigan Avenue, striking him in the shoulder, Chicago police said.
  4. A new Illinois law aims to help pay funeral costs of children killed by gun violence. The legislation creates a grant program through the Office of Violence Prevention, offering up to $10,000 each for families who lose a child under 17 to gun violence.
  5. Advocate Aurora Health, the largest health care system in the Chicago area, said today it will merge with Atrium Health in a deal executives promised would strengthen health care across six states. The nonprofit systems will continue to use their brand names in their respective markets but together will be called Advocate Health.
  6. Chicago will be filled with the sound of music this summer courtesy of some familiar, free city-sponsored festivals. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events today announced the lineups for the Chicago Gospel Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival and the Millennium Park Summer Series.
  7. Nine Inch Nails is headed to Chicago as the third Riot Fest headliner, joining My Chemical Romance and The Original Misfits, it was announced today. Among the bands making their festival debuts: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bauhaus and the reunited Sunny Day Real Estate. We have the full lineup here.

A bright one

Rainbow Cone shines up north, too

Once upon a time, in order to savor the quintipartite joys of an Original Rainbow Cone, you had to stop by their Pepto Bismol-pink ice cream shop at 9233 S. Western Ave.

Rainbow Cone’s fivefold path is, from top to bottom: orange sherbet, followed by four ice creams: pistachio, Palmer House (New York vanilla with walnuts and cherries), strawberry and chocolate.

Eventually, Rainbow began popping up at Taste of Chicago as well as a summertime kiosk on Navy Pier. Then last year, another opened in Lombard.


Janelle Smith shows off a practice Rainbow Cone at their first North Side location, 3754 W. Touhy Ave. in Skokie — which opens today.

Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

Beginning today, deprived North Siders can partake, as Rainbow Cone opens at 3754 W. Touhy Ave. in Skokie in a symbiotic relationship with Buona Beef.

The Buona team even came up with the new Rainbow Cone slogan, “Life’s too short for just one flavor.”

On Monday, Lynn Sapp, granddaughter of founders Joe and Katherine Sapp, talked with our Neil Steinberg about the Buona Beef taking the reins and expanding to the North Side. Her grandparents first opened Rainbow Cone in 1926.

“They’re family-oriented,” Sapp said of Buona Beef. “Grandpa’s at the table; all the uncles are at the table, and the younger ones, and that’s what I like. They understand.”

Neil Steinberg has more on Rainbow Cone here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What are ways out-of-town fans can respectfully attend big music festivals like Riot Fest, Lollapalooza or Pitchfork?

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: What is the best beach in Chicago?

Here’s what some of you said…

“We love 31st. It’s very big, nice facilities, good food, and great parking. A nice wide sandbar so it’s pretty warm by August and shallow enough for kids. Has a very neighborhoody family feel.” — Sarah Louise

“Rainbow Beach. It has stunning views of the Loop.” — Craig Barner

“North Avenue Beach. You can rent jet skis, restaurants, paddle boats, music, etc.” — Roscoe Kardell

“Montrose Beach. Large, spacious beach, and green area diving it from the rest of the city. Plus the walking path for those who enjoy walking along the lake.” — Iwona Kelsch

“Montrose Beach is a beautiful place.” — Ashley Davis Henriquez

31st Street Beach is my nice little getaway beach.” — Kenneth McClellan

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

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