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New bar and restaurant Lark replacing Halsted's in Boystown

May. 5, 2016 - , Developers behind the new concept for Halsted's Bar + Grill are breaking their silence today as they officially announce Lark, a completely new bar and restaurant coming to Boystown in June.

Located at 3441 N. Halsted St., Lark will offer wood-fired pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, entrées, salads, appetizers and weekend brunch. The 2,400 square foot venue will accommodate approximately 90 people indoors, with the enormous backdoor patio more than doubling its capacity by adding 100 additional seats.

Halsted's Bar + Grill closed seemingly out of the blue on Valentine's Day this year after becoming a Boystown mainstay for 12 years, opening in 2004. Leaders at LKH Management – who own the space, along with successful venues like Replay, Elixir, Hydrate and Seven – say they imagine a casual environment accompanied by a brand new menu.

"Our goal is to provide the neighborhood a go-to place to relax over dinner and drinks in a casual, comfortable setting every night of the week," said Mark Liberson, LKH president.

Chefs Bernardo Ibarra (Girl and the Goat) and Kaz Medhat (Magnolia Café) currently lead the culinary team at Replay and Elixir in Andersonville, and also plan to helm the Lark kitchen. LKH says the two will create a menu rich in flavors, incorporating inspirations from Italy and beyond in dishes like sriracha BBQ baby back ribs with salsa verde and sweet pepper pico de gallo, and smoked chicken parpadelle with roasted red peppers and goat cheese.

Lark's beverage director, Vlad Novikov, will curate a drink menu consisting of craft cocktails, wine and 10 tap beers.

In addition to traditional table seating, Liberson says guests can choose to sit and watch the chefs prepare and cook the pizzas surrounding the Mugnaini wood-fired pizza oven, dine and drink at the historic handcrafted wooden bar from the former Cullen's Bar & Grill on Southport, or lounge in comfortable seating surrounding Lark's working fireplace.

"We can't wait for everyone to join us and enjoy a taste of something they won't find elsewhere in the neighborhood," said Chef Bernardo. "We're thrilled to share all the special features of the new oven, and to create delicious dishes beyond artisanal pizzas, incorporating wood-fired items throughout the menu."

This is a noticeable change for the space, formerly known for its long menu featuring more traditional bar fare.

"Our goal is to add our combined experience to bring great flavors to simple dishes, preparing everything in-house with the freshest ingredients and offering a diverse menu that will change with the seasons," added Chef Kaz.

Along with the overhauled menu comes an entirely new space. Exposed brick and handcrafted wooden details will line the walls of the new venue, which will have 13 large screen TVs. LKH adds that DJs will play an eclectic retro blend of 80s, 90s and pop tunes Thursday through Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to close.

Lark will be open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. A limited lunch menu will be served weekdays 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Brunch will be available 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will be served every night from 5-10 p.m. Late-night pizza and limited menu options will also be available nightly during cocktail service until close.

Chicago House names Scott Ammarell as new CEO
May. 5, 2016 - , The Chicago House Board of Trustees on May 3 approved Scott Ammarell as the next Chief Executive Officer of the social service agency. Ammarell replaces Rev. Stan Sloan, who previously announced his resignation effective June 30.

"Throughout the selection process, Scott stood out with his depth of experience and his clear vision for the continued growth of Chicago House and our programs, all for the benefit of our clients," said Board Chair Ray Lechner. "We are thrilled to have him as our new CEO, and we look forward to many great years ahead."

Ammarell recently served as the Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for the Chicago Housing Authority, where he was involved in the development and strategic planning of the City of Chicago's Public Housing. He has also volunteered or served on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ services boards, including the board of Test Positive Aware Network.

"I am thrilled to join Chicago House and to have the opportunity to build upon the legacy created by all of those who have come before me and who serve the organization on a daily basis. I hope to use my experience in the affordable housing world to enhance and expand on the housing and programs that Chicago House provides to the vast community of those in need," said Ammarell. "We must remain vigilant in our efforts to serve the clients of Chicago House and I am truly honored to be a part of that effort. I look forward to the challenges that we will face and to working towards solving them together."

Ammarell will begin in his role in mid-May, providing several weeks of overlap with Sloan.

"I am excited to work beside Scott and about the great energy that he brings to this role. I look forward to introducing him to the staff and to our key stakeholders in the weeks ahead," said Sloan. "I submitted my resignation last September to give the Board and Staff they time they needed to find the right next leader. I am confident that the board has found just that in Scott."

Ammarell joins a staff at Chicago House's Executive level. Judy Perloff remains in her role as Chief Program Officer as does Kiki Dorn as Chief Financial Officer, both in their 16th year of service. Stan Waclaw remains at the helm as Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer.

First performers announced for Chicago Pride Fest 2016
Apr. 28, 2016 - , Chicago Pride Fest 2016 is less than two months away, and today, organizers are kicking off the annual buzz leading up to the festivities by announcing the first three acts pegged to take the stage.

Music stars Jordin Sparks, Dumblonde and Daya will each perform sets on June 18-19, the Northalsted Business Alliance confirmed with ChicagoPride.com on Thursday. Calling it the first "sneak peek," organizers plan to slowly release information about additional performers leading up to the event.

Pride Fest in the Windy City starts on Saturday when American Idol Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks and rising star Daya perform. Sparks is best known for her duet "No Air" with Chris Brown, and "One Step at a Time," both of which were released back in 2007. Daya, on the other hand, released her leading single "Hide Away" in late 2015.

On Sunday, former Danity Kane members Aubrey O'Day and Shannon Bex take the stage as Dumblonde. The duo recently performed in Boystown at Seven Nightclub. Their indie pop debut has strong dance and alternative influences reminiscent of acts like The Ting Tings and La Roux.

"All of our events are known for their exceptional entertainment value and this year's Pride Fest is no exception," Northalsted Business Alliance Executive Director Christopher Barrett Politan told ChicagoPride.com. "With a mix of up and comers and festival favorites, there's something for everyone to enjoy."

While the Northalsted Business Alliance (NAB) remains tight-lipped about additional acts, performers like Big Freedia, Estelle and Debbie Gibson headlined Chicago Pride Fest in 2015.

The festival, which is now a weekend prior to the annual Chicago Pride Parade, brings together tens of thousands of LGBT supporters annually. It runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. down North Halsted Street from Addison to Grace. Organizers suggest a $10 donation upon entering.

This year's Pride Fest motto is 'It's Your Story- Take Pride', a tie-in to NAB's recent collaboration with The Legacy Project, the world's only outdoor LGBT museum honoring the stories of LGBT pioneers. 

The 2016 Chicago Pride Parade, which now brings more than a million visitors to the Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods of Chicago, is slated for Sunday, June 2016 starting at noon.

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