Loyola students at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus have the privilege of going to school in Rogers Park — one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods with some of the city’s most under-the-radar local businesses. We’ve watched the neighborhood lose its uniqueness as many of these businesses, however, have recently bid farewell to the community.
As Loyola’s class sizes and infrastructure has grown, the development surrounding it has also expanded. Many of the businesses which have popped up in the past 5-10 years are chains, including the recent construction of a Target (6422 N. Sheridan Rd.) and a wealth of restaurants on Sheridan Road, including Taco Bell, Raising Cane’s, Blaze Pizza and Chipotle, among others.
But these big-name restaurants come with a cost — and it comes at the expense of small businesses.
Last week, The Phoenix reported the demolition of the Heartland Cafe (7000 N. Glenwood Ave.) — known for its hippie feel, healthy food and political identity — and the closing of Royal Coffee (6764 N Sheridan Rd.), an Ethiopian coffee shop. Both business owners cited financial reasons as the reason for closing. Leona’s (6935 N Sheridan Rd.) also recently called it quits.
Loyola’s own student-run pizzeria — Felice’s Kitchen — couldn’t even survive. The Phoenix reported its May 5 closing after inability to compete with other restaurants on Sheridan Road.
While we acknowledge how convenient it is to have everything one would need in a couple-block radius, students are missing out on what Chicago is about: its eccentric neighborhoods.
The development on Sheridan Road has formed a bubble around students, not requiring them to go far for the essentials. Fewer students venture north of campus into the expanses of Rogers Park for this reason, and the lack of student support is killing local businesses.
Maria Hadden, the alderwoman-elect for the 49th Ward — which covers Rogers Park — issued a statement last week and said rent and real estate taxes have been a contributing factor to local business closings. Hadden also mentioned retirement, family time and business related issues as reasons for closing.
The Phoenix has reported on these rising rent costs and how residents of the neighborhood fear gentrification.