Amoco considers move
The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce has recently been exploring the relocation of the Amoco gas station on 53rd Street into the adjacent and soon-to-be vacant space where McDonald's is currently located. In place of the gas station, the Chamber is contemplating a building with commercial property on the ground level and residential apartments on upper floors.
McDonald's, currently located at 53rd Street and Kenwood Avenue, will be moving to 52nd Street and Lake Park Drive as approved by the TIF Advisory Council, a group organized to advise Fourth Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, several months ago.
Although the Chamber would like to see this plan come to life, it is waiting until after the upcoming city elections to fully pursue the relocation of Amoco.
May Wilsen, a spokesman for the Chamber said that they have been discussing such a move with Bill Philips, owner of the gas station, and intend to confirm plans shortly after this year's elections.
Some University of Chicago students expressed disappointment over the relocation of the 53rd Street McDonald's. "I really like having the McDonald's so close by, and now that it's moving, I'm never going to go there...ever," said Ryan Gruver, a second-year in the College.
Restaurants violate health codes
Snail Thai Cuisine and Siam, two Thai restaurants on 55th Street that stock campus coffee shops, were closed last Wednesday due to health violations. Café Corea, another 55th Street restaurant, was shut down last Thursday for similar violations.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) cited mouse infestation and improper handling of trash among the reasons for closing Snail.
Siam was cited for improper pest and garbage control, temperature violations, lack of a certified manager on the premises, and inappropriate use of toxic chemicals.
"Hyde Park doesn't have more of a problem today than it's had in the past," said Tim Hadac of the CDPH, adding that the proliferation of restaurants closing for health violations in Hyde Park is purely coincidental. "In all probability, it's not indicative of a pattern."
However, Hadac did maintain that enforcement has recently become stricter.
"There's no better way to get a business' attention than to shut it down for a couple days," he said.
Siam's owner Chet Tenwong responded to the temperature violations by saying that "the food is frozen but when you work in a kitchen you open, you close [the door]."
"The food is OK, it's frozen," Tenwong said.
This is the second violation for Siam, which has been operating in Hyde Park for the past 13 years.
Although health inspectors did not find rodents at Siam, they discovered evidence of rats.
"They did find some droppings," Tenwong said.
Tenwong maintained that he does have a certified food manager, but that he had forgotten to renew his license, which expired in December.
Siam is using the next couple of days as an opportunity to clean their restaurant and hopes to re-open for business later this week. "We clean everything, we mop the rug. Our place is clean, we guarantee," Tenwong said.
The Snail declined to comment.
Dating event cancelled
A round-robin dating activity scheduled for Monday night and advertised throughout campus was cancelled by organizers due to lack of interest. After two days of ticket sales left Linn House planners with no participants, the program folded.
"People just sneered at us--they said: 'I'm not that desperate,'" said Linn House organizer Nicole Lunning, a second-year in the College.
"Everyone thought it was a good idea, but no-one is willing to do it."
The "three-minute-dating" game was to be a speed-dating mixer, giving students a few moments to mingle with several different possible dating options. After the activity, each participant was to write down the people in which he or she was interested, and then the matches were to be notified.
Lunning said that the largest problem in attracting students who did not already have significant others is that they were too shy to come. She also said that the idea for the fundraising activity, which came from a member of her house who had participated in a successful round-robin dating game, should have been modified to attract groups of friends.
"It's the kind of thing you would have to do with a friend and joke about," Lunning said. "It was hard to tap into that not-joking-around feeling."
While Lunning had low expectations for participants finding their soul mates at the activity, she thought the atmosphere of mingling with the College's free agents would be similar to that of a real party.
"It's like going to a frat party--usually you don't come out finding someone, but you have good stories to tell your friends the next day," Lunning said.
To third-year organizer Julia Riley, the failure of an activity that was supposed to mitigate the College's reputation for being a difficult place to date casually ended up only reinforcing this impression.
"They were just too embarrassed to sign up," she said. "They didn't want to admit we go to an antisocial school and need help to get dates."