COMMUNITY DINNERS

November 13 // 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Upswell Community Dinners offer a chance to get outside the hotel to experience firsthand how food and mission can go together. From brownstones to breweries, each dinner is hosted by a purpose-driven business that’s using the power of great food to strengthen the community.

Sit down with strangers, go home with friends, ideas – maybe even a solution or two.

Owner Kenny Johnson is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for public service. His four restaurants, including Bureau Bar, serve a community that generally doesn’t have a lot of options to frequent and patronize. The restaurants primarily employ Black and Brown people who traditionally have been locked out of this profession. In addition to a delicious meal, you’ll hear Brazilian born singer Cecy Santana perform traditional Brazilian popular music, R&B, house, and dance music.

Menu: Crab Cake Sliders, Collard Dip, Bureau Mini Macs, House Salad, Bureau Fish Fry, Braised Short Ribs, Grilled Asparagus, Collard Greens

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The Bureau Bar and Restaurant: Comfort Food with a Twist

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Located in Pilsen’s dynamic Art District, DeColores is a Mexican restaurant celebrated for its award-winning Mole Pablono – made with a 20-ingredient recipe that is claimed by owners Sergio, Priscilla, and Soleil Reyes as top secret. When you’re not busy eating – and fixating on the tasty secret – you’ll enjoy an intimate conversation with the restaurant’s leaders and staff about their work in the community.

Menu: Taquitos de Papa, House-made chips and salsa, Arroz Mexicano, Frijoles Guerros, Tortillas, Ensalada Azul, Mole Poblano, Chipotle Shrimp, Tilapia Fajitas

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DeColores: Community-minded from the Tortillas to the Tequila and Mezcal

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Inspiration Kitchens has a simple philosophy – “Dine Well. Do Good.” With a belief that delicious food can change lives, founder Lisa Nigro, a former Chicago police officer, began a business designed to help Chicago community members overcome homelessness and poverty. Over dinner, you’ll learn how the business model helps to increase self-sufficiency through the provision of social services, employment training and placement, and housing.

Menu: Assorted Cheese, Empanadas, Kale Brussels Sprouts Salad, Caramelized Onion Braised Beef Brisket, Honey Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower Steaks, Herb Roasted Potatoes, Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Balsamic Vegetables

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Inspiration Kitchens: A Menu of Good Food and Better Lives

It might pique your curiosity to know that Pearl’s Place has deep culinary ties with the Obama Foundation, but the restaurant’s history is even more interesting. Serving the Bronzeville community and Chicagoland for more than 30 years, owner Darrell Green hires and promotes members of the community. You’ll learn about how the artwork outside of the building pays tribute to Bronzeville talent, and how the restaurant acts as a gallery to celebrate local artists.

Note: Pearl’s Place Restaurant is not a gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian establishment. Nuts, shellfish and other allergens may be present in any items.

Menu: Specialized by the chef on the night of the dinner, the Soul Food Favorites buffet will include food like Fried Chicken, Turkey, Pork Chops, Dressing, Macaroni and Cheese, Red Beans and Rice, Collard Greens

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Pearl’s Place: Chicago’s Go-to Place for Soul Food

Founded in 1987, Marwen offers free visual arts education to young people from Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods. You’ll be awed by a stunning space and inspired by the young people and artists who have built a deep community at Marwen. Along with a tasty meal, you’ll be part of an artist-led experience that utilizes the tools of art practice to build community and collectively develop ideas that build towards social change.

Menu: Baby spinach salad with toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, and lemon vinaigrette; artisan breads and rolls with butter (classic French baguette with brioche, sesame semolina, and harvest dinner rolls); balsamic and honey glazed Amish chicken breasts; stuffed tomatoes with dried cranberries, wild rice, and toasted almonds; roasted fingerling potatoes with sea salt; seared brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash; and assorted housemade bars (decadent chocolate brownies, raspberry crumble bars, and brown butter rice krispie treats)

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Marwen: Empowering Youth through Visual Arts

Founded on the premise that art, culture, food, and beer would (and should) be enjoyed by the community, Marz was created as a platform for ongoing experimental collaboration. You’ll hear from the Marz team about how they combined their love of craft beer with their desire to make Chicago a better place to live, work, and play. You’ll learn about how the team supports numerous nonprofits, and a wide-ranging cultural and social advocacy community to build a better world for their employees, customers, and neighbors.

Menu: Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Tandoori Chicken Skewers, Vegetarian BBQ Sliders, BBQ Pulled Pork, Dill and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Rooibos Tea Deviled Eggs

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Marz Community Brewing Co.: Brewing up a Community of the Future

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Having used her home as both a boarding house for visiting international students and an event venue for her hobby of catering, Sinhá founder Jorgina Pereira decided to do something more. She recognized the lack of restaurants in her neighborhood and embarked on the conversion of her brownstone to a mixed used zoning project, birthing a restaurant where community and camaraderie are the themes.  Pereira believes that hospitality is the foundation of economic development for every community – and you’ll see (and taste) why.

Menu: Pineapple Salsa and Chips, Risoles, Yucca/Cheese Biscuits, Burrata Salad, Chicken Bobo, Beef Bacon, Grilled Sausage & Shrimp, Basmati Rice, Black Beans, Red Cabbage and Mango Salad, Baked Potatoes, Chutneys/Hot Peppers, Red Velvet Cake with Flan

More about this dinner:

Sinhá: Community and Brazilian Cuisine on Chicago’s West Side