Just under four months ago, Rashad Bailey opened Dinner & a Movie in Chicago’s gentrified Lincoln Park area. During that period, Bailey claims he has received numerous fraudulent complaints about his company.
“The police started arriving the same day we opened [April 30],” Bailey told Block Club Chicago. The persons behind the calls, according to Bailey, are white residents who are opposed to an increase of Black people in their neighborhood.
“They were there on the first day, the second day, the third day, and the fourth day that we were open. Then, all of a sudden, I’m dealing with Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.”
Shots rang out during a confrontation on June 27 at the area, exacerbating the situation. The fight started inside Dinner & a Movie, but it spilled out onto the pavement in the 2500 block of Ashland Ave. at 1 a.m., an hour after the restaurant had closed. Despite the fact that seventeen shots were fired, no one was harmed.
Part of Bailey’s dissatisfaction stems from the fact that his establishment was already being viewed as a riffraff magnet. He said that he phoned police the night of the shooting because he couldn’t get the gathering to disperse, but authorities didn’t arrive until the chaos had already upset homes.
“I informed them, ‘People aren’t dispersing,’ and requested that only one automobile be sent to me. Instead, they showed there with 20 cars and a lot of excuses after the shooting.” Nonetheless, the scene struck a big nerve with residents who already suspected Dinner & a Movie was attracting a rowdy and disruptive crowd. As a result, the shop was closed for a week by police.
The stylish neighborhood’s gentrification began in the 1940s, when white middle-class families moved in and renovated Victorian-era homes in a working-class community that was already 98 percent white. By the 1960s, the population of low-income families had been gradually evicted as the neighborhood’s property values soared. Since then, the neighborhood bordering the Gold Coast and Lake Michigan has seen a steady influx of redevelopment and white people with college degrees moving in. That same population, which accounts for around 77 percent of the population, has made Dinner and a Movie more of a pain than a pleasure to run.
“For the neighbors, I think there are too many Black people, but you can’t just say there are too many Black people; you have to suggest something criminal is going on,” Bailey explained. Operating as a tavern instead of a restaurant with a liquor license permitted for adult beverages to complement meals — not for all-night happy hour — is one example of prohibited practice.
“The neighbors will phone the police and say there is battery, property damage, noise, or some form of abuse,” he added, “but those 911 calls are made up since nothing has happened up to the one shooting; otherwise, those 911 calls would have found something.”
A community gathering was held in an attempt to defuse tensions. Residents and city officials expressed their displeasure with the establishment’s boisterous atmosphere. It was then suggested that security be present, that signs informing clients that loitering is prohibited be placed, and that the security feed at Dinner and a Movie be made accessible to the city’s emergency systems be made available. Much of this has already been accomplished by Bailey. Even yet, he feels uncomfortable in a community that has showed little interest in his company’s presence.
“It’s discouraging since no one is working in my restaurant. I believe that when neighbors look out their windows and see people wandering down the street, they simply contact the cops,” he stated. “We were supposed to be a local restaurant, but the community doesn’t support us, so we’re just a restaurant.”