Back in business: New and notable start-ups

View from the street of newly opened Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern.

Opening a new business is hard work. Maintaining a business is even harder. And in a world where political and economic volatility seems to be the new normal, today’s entrepreneurs truly need nerves of steel.

Yet, in 2021, more people in Illinois opted to throw their hats in the ring by starting new businesses than any other time since those numbers were first tracked in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

So on behalf of all of Chicago's steely-eyed entrepreneurs, here is our list of top businesses recently opened or opening soon at the time of this writing.


Bluebird, 2863 N. Clark St., opened June 24. Bluebird has set up shop at its second location in the restaurant and patio space formerly occupied by Cochinita Taco Co. The new location is a casual spot for “American comfort food and elevated sides with BYOB in a laid-back, modern setting.” Bluebird will have a brunch menu and sit-down food options, cocktails and local draft beers on rotation.

Reunion by Chef Art Smith, 700 E. Grand Ave., opened July 19. Chef Art Smith, a locally and internationally celebrated chef and entrepreneur, has opened a sister restaurant to his award-winning “Homecomin’” at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. The new digs at Navy Pier offer family-oriented cuisine for locals, visitors and anyone looking for “great flavors and good grub.”

Daisy’s Po-Boy and Tavern, 5215 S. Harper Ave., opened Aug. 13. Chef Erick Williams’ new hotspot in Hyde Park is a Cajun and Creole restaurant and tavern. The name is inspired by Chef Williams’ late Aunt Daisy and the restaurant serves one-of a-kind Gulf Coast specialties including fried ’gator, fried chicken, red beans and rice, seafood gumbo and muffuletta.

Indian Paradise, 2257 W. North Ave., opened July 22. The chefs at Indian Paradise enjoy exploring the many different cuisines found across India and offering a wide assortment of delicacies, including vegetarian, meat dishes and halal Indian food. Experience the authentic flavors of Indian cuisine and the variety of tastes and spices that represent diverse areas of the sub-continent.

Spicy Taco, 2825 N. Milwaukee Ave., opened July 29. With 20 years of restaurant experience under their belts, Adolfo Garcia and Javier Mendiola are ready to go out on their own. Spicy Taco is an authentic eatery that delivers spot-on tastes representing the owners’ home state of Michoacán, Mexico. Especially proud of their skirt steak tacos, burritos tortas and chilaquiles, the new hot-spot is open for dine-in service, delivery and takeout.

Bronzeville Soul, 4655 S. King Drive, opened Aug. 22. Seeking to fill an under-represented niche, Bronzeville Soul offers a rotating menu of classic soul food including baked chicken, grilled lamb chops, salmon and fried catfish meals complete with greens, “mac” and cheese, sweet potatoes or corn muffins – all under $30.


Rhapsody Theater, 1328 W. Morse Ave., opened June 22. The Rhapsody Theater opened in 1912 as the Morse Theatre, a vaudeville and movie house that seated 650, according to Cinema Treasures. Today’s owners promise to deliver a diverse lineup of star-studded acts from “internationally renowned magicians, highly acclaimed chamber music, unique world music, cabaret and dance performances”—all in an intimate 200-seat venue.

Cinema Chatham, 210 W. 87th St., opened July 21. Cinema Chatham, previously a Studio Movie Grill that closed during the pandemic, is upgrading their movie experience with numerous facelifts and upgrades. Offering group ticket sales, $5 ticket Tuesdays, and event bookings, the owners continue to invest in new enhancements to put the marvelous back in movies.

Signal Records, 3156 W. Diversey Ave., open summer, 2022. Record collector and local record label founder, Blake Karlson, slated a Sept. 3 grand opening for Signal Records, a treasury of mostly used, rare and collectible vinyl. The new storefront will occupy the space that previously housed Bric-a-Brac Records, which moved to a new location last year. Signal Records will house nearly 20,000 LPs spanning thousands of artists, labels and musical tastes.

The Haitian American Museum of Chicago, 4654 N. Racine Ave., open Sept. 10. Originally founded in 2012, the brand new Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC) will host programs that contribute to the “rich multicultural tapestry that is Chicago.” HAMOC’s array of exhibits will showcase Haiti’s rich culture and art and complex history. Stop by to experience all that Haiti has to offer in-person or attend virtual and in-person programs.

The Salt Shed, 1357 N. Elston Ave., opening early 2023. The Salt Shed, a new indoor music venue and community space, is slated to open at the historic Morton Salt complex early next year. Meanwhile, the owners are getting their feet wet with a series of all-age outdoor shows that will run through September, while construction continues on the indoor venue. Visit for the outdoor lineup.

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