Evanston RoundTable
Comfort Desserts Reimagined can’t maintain menu prices because the cost of ingredients is soaring. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Good Wednesday morning, Evanston.

As the local and national inflation rates soar, Evanston businesses are struggling to cope with the sudden change in the business environment.

Using the Consumer Price Index, which shows the average change in prices of a bundle of common goods and services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that prices in the Chicago area increased 6.6% during 2021. Nationwide, prices increased 7% over the 12-month span, according to the report, the highest annual inflation rate since 1982. 

A rendering depicts the Varsity building converted to residential use, with spruced-up ground level retail. (Campbell Coyle Real Estate rendering)

A development team is proposing to convert the vacant Varsity Theater building into a 35-unit apartment building with nearly 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail that would wrap around the alley to the adjacent Bookman’s Alley property.

Robin Rue Simmons pulls a lottery ball at Evanston’s Reparations Committee meeting on Jan. 13. (Photo by Richard Cahan) Credit: Richard Cahan

Focus on reparations. The RoundTable has added a page to help readers stay abreast of the news on Evanston’s historic reparations program. Visit the page often to read our latest coverage.

COVID by the numbers: 69 cases were reported on Monday, Jan. 17, the last day the city updated case totals. The seven-day average is 112 cases per day.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Lee Street Beach transformed. (RoundTable photo)

The Lighthouse Keeper sees … that a solitary walker at Lee Street Beach could easily be mistaken for an Arctic explorer.

Peggy Tarr: Humankind. Tarr reflects on the life, work and legacy of Bahamian-American/African American actor and director Sidney Poitier, who died on Jan. 6.

At this time: 5:03 p.m. Tuesday. Luis Puma works into the evening at his A-1 Tailor shop on Dempster Street just west of Chicago Avenue. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

Evanston History Center’s annual lecture series will launch Feb. 10. The Evanston History Center kicks off its popular lecture series known as “Under the Buffalo” next month. The upcoming series, which runs from February through April, is organized around the theme “landscape.”

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Around the web

You Can Order 4 Free, At-Home COVID Tests Right Now. Here’s How To Do It. On Tuesday, the federal government officially unveiled a website for people to order free, at-home COVID-19 tests directly to their homes. You can order four free tests here today.

Who is dying of COVID-19 in Cook County? Black Chicagoans and 60-plus suburbanites. The WBEZ analysis also found that the risk of death from COVID-19 infection is 22 times higher for unvaccinated Illinoisans than for fully vaccinated residents.

Nofthwestern students protest, petition against decision to return to in-person learning Tuesday. More than 1,500 students, faculty and community members at Northwestern University signed a petition to hold classes remotely until the school provides more resources such as medical-grade masks and universal hybrid-learning options.

The Onion reports that a Denver hospital is installing delivery room taprooms so dads and babes can bond over a beer. Or three.

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Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...