Chaos in Chicago's Loop last weekend causing major concerns for business owners

The city's multi-billion-dollar hospitality industry is raising red flags about the teen chaos in downtown Chicago.

Industry leaders say people need to feel safe coming into the city, and they are pushing police and incoming Mayor Brandon Johnson to put together a better game plan.

Miller’s Pub has seen a lot in its 90 years on Wabash in the Loop. But co-owner Andy Gallios said they were forced to take unprecedented steps last weekend.

"Locked the doors. We have security here, so we shut it down. We didn't let anybody in or out," Gallios said.

On Saturday night, the iconic restaurant was forced to close three hours early and escort customers to their cars as groups of teens took over parts of downtown Chicago.

"We feel like that doesn't bode well for the summer," said Gallios. "And gets me worrying. We thought things were on the up and up. And something like this happens you feel knocked right back down a little bit."

MORE: Chicago alderwoman blames city, lack of opportunity for young people for chaos downtown

Hotels, bars, and restaurants that depend on tourism and conventions to make or break their business say what happened last weekend can't happen again.

"As we move into the summer months, we know that it could get worse," said Sam Toia, head of the Illinois Restaurant Association. "So we really need people who are in authority to actually do their jobs."


Toia said they've already had discussions with the incoming mayor about the importance of securing the downtown area — the city's economic engine.

The Chicago Loop Alliance is reviving its Ambassador Program, in which unarmed ambassadors in uniform will patrol streets in the Loop, go into stores and attempt to identify and de-escalate situations that could lead to trouble.

RELATED: Chicago police release names of adults charged in weekend downtown chaos

"This is not an everyday experience," said Kiana Distasi, marketing director for the Chicago Loop Alliance. "But we take these incidents very seriously. And we're really committed to working with the relevant partner organizations and the City of Chicago and the CPD to work on a comprehensive approach for making sure these things don't happen again."

And they say the timing couldn't be worse, coming just as bars, restaurants and hotels are beginning to crawl out of a hole caused by the pandemic and the economy.

"With inflation and still coming out of the pandemic, this is a double whammy because it's all about putting diners in seats," said Toia. "And we don't want diners and tourists feeling uncomfortable coming to Chicago."

Everyone that FOX 32 talked to said they welcome the teens downtown, but as customers — not to create chaos.