Thursday, December 29, 2005

REACT: Bye bye Berghoff's

Gads! First Chicago loses Meigs Field, then Marshall Field's ... and now the landmark Berghoff's restaurant. Chicago is fast joining the sterile homogenized urban cities that are morphing all over the world.

Sometimes the loss is sad, but understood. Many past institutions simply lost their public appeal. They could no longer survive in modern society. The old theaters that created the original "theater district" were good examples of that. The Woods. The Roosevelt. The State and Lake. We almost lost the flagship Chicago Theatre -- a close call about which I know a lot.(Check out the old news clips is you don't believe me.) Same for Montgomery Ward's.

As a guy devoted to a preservationist tradition, the Meigs/Field's/Berghoff's triple whammy is hard to accept.

I guess what really makes me ornery is the fact that we are lost these institutions because of callous decisions. The people in charge have no devotion to tradition or the feelings of those of us who paid homage (and no little money) to those traditions. We are the jilted lovers, with all the pain and anger.

As a free market conservative, I must respect the owner's right to make the decisions (except in the case of Meigs since WE are the owners, not the mayor.) In terms of Field's and Berghoff's, I have no legal recourse, nor would I want any. However, I see nothing un-conservative about never offering my patronage to Macy's nor that new catering business that will take over the Berghoff's space.

I would hope that there are enough of us jilted lovers to bring down Macy's downtown store. If you recall, I have previously expressed my hope that the Macy's takes the tube, and the building becomes a residential loft conversion. As for Berghoff's, hopefully the catering business will collapse as a response to the callous decision to close the venerable restaurant, and a new owner will re-establish some versions of the old place. Of course, that may not be possible if the heiress/owner vandalizes the place in the name of modernization.

Despite their solicitous words and sad tones, I hope the Berghoff family understands that their fame has been transformed into infamy -- and their sorrowful words are meaningless.

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