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Restaurant News: Sodikoff's California Clipper Opens Tonight; Tavernita Closes

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 2, 2014 9:40PM

The interior of Tavernita.
- Tavernita was one of the city's hottest restaurant openings two years ago. Mercadito Hospitality Group took over the former Martini Park space with a menu crafted by Ryan Poli, a cocktail menu by the Tippling Brothers, and was able to turn it out for a while. That all came to an end just as the Labor Day holiday approached; Tavernita and its sister restaurant Barcito closed Aug. 28 amid a mounting tax debt and a revoked liquor license. Mercadito director of marketing and public relations director Natalie Levine said the back taxes were paid and the group was in the process of getting its liquor license back before the decision to shutter was made. Mercadito will now focus on its Tipping Hall under construction in River North, as well as Mercadito locations in Washington, DC and Philadelphia. [Eater Chicago, RedEye]

- The California Clipper's Brendan Sodikoff era begins in earnest tonight. The Michael Bay of Chicago's restaurant scene closed the Humboldt Park tavern to give it a clean and spit-shine and will re-open the doors with a cocktail menu containing more than 70 drinks. As perhaps a nod to placate patrons who don't want him to mess with a mostly good thing, Sodikoff says 80 percent of the drinks are priced at under $9, although there is a $70 scotch and artisan cigar special. Did we mention cigars? Yes, we did. Sodikoff ditched plans to turn the Clipper's back room into a cinema and will instead make it a tobacco room, which won't be open for a few weeks. [Eater Chicago]

- While everyone else was out enjoying the holiday, Vice District Brewing held its soft opening last Friday, with free samples of five of their beers, and is supposed to officially open this evening. We recommend going back and re-reading Melissa McEwen's July profile of the people behind Vice. [South Loop Connection]