A Postcard from the Field: Chicago’s Valois Cafeteria

Dateline NBC's Lester Holt sat down to interview President Barack Obama January 2017. They went to the perfect place… a spot Obama has been frequenting for decades. Valois Cafeteria in Downtown Hyde Park.

NBC5: Small Business Saturday 11-26-2016

Small Business Saturday, started by American Express, is intended to support small businesses the day after Black Friday--which favors big box stores. NBC 5's LeeAnn Trotter reports and features comments from Wendy Walker Williams, SECC Executive Director and Eric Williams, owner of the Silver Room on 53rd Street (Downtown Hyde Park). #ShopLocalChicago

ABC7: Small Business Saturday 11-26-2016

After Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday, when locally owned businesses make a push for your holiday shopping dollars. This year, Small Business Saturday kicked off its celebration of all things local with everything from live music on the sidewalk on the streets of Hyde Park to a DJ and aerial dancers in River North.


WTTW's Check Please! featured one of Downtown Hyde Park's most recognized restaurants, Valois (1518 East 53rd Street). “An untouched, classic cafeteria with excellent food, great prices, and unbeatable atmosphere.” Valois is now one of the most recognizable spots to eat even before endorsements from President Obama.

Watch The Episode


WTTW's Check Please! featured one of Downtown Hyde Park's favorite spots in Harper Court for Season 15. Ja' Grill (1510 East Harper Ct) is the place to go in Chicago for perfectly prepared Jamaican cuisine. You’ll discover incredibly vibrant flavors with the jerk and curry dishes, as well as classics like plantains, rice & beans, oxtail and goat dishes. The vibe is cool and lively.

Watch The Episode

By Car

Downtown Hyde Park is accessible both by Lake Shore Drive, US-41 and the Dan Ryan Expressway, I-90/94.


Harper Court Private Drive - There are a limited number of metered quick parking spots located on the private drive at the west end of the drive by Harper Avenue.
Harper Court Garage - The entry ramp is located on Lake Park Avenue just south of 52nd Street.
Harper Avenue Surface Lot - Located just north of the Harper Theater and Kilwin’s between 52nd and 53rd Streets.
Parking is available via ParkMobile and SpotHero.

Lake Shore Drive

From Lake Shore Drive, you can get to Downtown Hyde Park using the Hyde Park Boulevard, 53rd Street, or 57th Street Exits.

Dan Ryan Expressway

From the Dan Ryan Expressway, use exit 57B to head east on Garfield Boulevard. Continue on Garfield Boulevard until you reach Lake Park Avenue, and you will have arrived.

By Train

The Metra Electric District line of Chicago’s Metra commuter rail serves downtown Hyde Park. Hyde Park stations include the 51st/53rd Street Station, the 55th-56th-57th Street Station, and the 59th Street, University of Chicago Station. View tickets and schedules at the Metra Website.

By Bus

Downtown Hyde Park is served by the following CTA Bus Lines:

  • #2 – Hyde Park Express
  • #4 – Cottage Grove
  • #6 – Jackson Park Express
  • #10 – Museum of Science and Industry
  • #15 – Jeffery Local
  • #28 – Stony Island
  • #55 – Garfield
  • #59 – 59th/61st

12:PM – Lunch

Start your Hyde Park Chicago experience by visiting Chant restaurant at 1509 East 53rd Street (773-324-1999) for a scrumptious lunch inspired by global cuisine. Chant’s offerings are not to just to feed the body; but the mind and soul as well.

1:30 PM – Shopping

Walk across the street to Harper Court to shop the local shops such as Villa the premier lifestyle fashion retailer, or Ulta Beauty for your beauty products. After leaving Ulta dip into Starbucks for that afternoon Latte you have been craving.

2:30 PM – Movie

An afternoon matinee in Hyde Park is a great stop for family and friends. Harper Theater shows the latest popular movies without the inflated ticket prices. The expanded concessions also make it a great stop for an adult beverage or cocktail.

4:00 PM – Treat Yourself

If you did not fill up on popcorn and candies at Harper Theater, stop by Kilwins next door for the finest quality traditional down-home confections and Ice Cream. How could you resist? We all scream for Ice Crème?

Hyde Park Farmers Market

The Hyde Park Farmers Market Harper Court | 5300 S. Harper Court Thursdays, June 2 - October 27, 2016, 7am - 1pm The Chicago Hyde Park Farmers Market is open 7 am - 1pm every Thursday for organic foods, fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, honey, jams and more. Harper Court will be turned into an open air market for pedestrians only. Vehicular traffic and public parking will be restricted for the safety of all market shoppers. #GetFreshThurs  



Hyde Park Farmers Market 2016   Visit Facebook for photos and updates about (The Hyde Park Farmers Market)


This year's growing list of vendors includes:

  • Smits Farms
  • Lyons Farms
  • Noffke Farms
  • C&D Family Farms
  • Marilyn’s Bakery
  • Steven Frank Farms
  • Headstrong Coffee
  • Hyde Park Bank
  • Farmers Market Info
  • Katic Breads
  • La Farine Bakery
  • Rotating
  • Artesian Breads
  • Sweet Bliss
  • Marabell’s Sweets & Savories
  • Blessings Boutique
  • Pie & Cones
  • Mac Properties


Every week the Hyde Park Farmers Market features fantastic live acoustic performances that you must see.

Hyde Park Farmers Market 2016


August 25
7:00 - 8:30 am Aaron Smith (Banjo)
8:30 - 10:00 am Kat Best (Cello)
10:00 - 11:30 am Laura Doherty (Kids)
11:30 - 1:00 pm Darius Hampton (Saxophone)

Sept 1
7:00 - 8:30 am Carol Jaryzna/Simmon Yoon (Flute & Piano)
8:30 - 10:00 am Aaron Smith (Banjo)
10:00 - 11:30 am JD Kostyk (Vocal/Guitar)
11:30 - 1:00 pm Amanda Raquel/Ben McMunn (Vocal/Guitar)

September 8
7:00 - 8:30 am Ukulele Barrett (Ukulele)
8:30 - 10:00 am Ethan Sellers (Guitar)
10:00 - 11:30 am George Urgo (Guitar)
11:30 - 1:00 pm Darius Hampton (Saxophone)


About SSA #61

Downtown Hyde Park is the creation of Chicago Special Service Area #61, which is comprised of the 53rd and 55th Street corridors connected by Lake Park Avenue. Special Service Areas, known as Business Improvement Districts or BIDs in other cities, are local tax districts that fund expanded services and programs through a localized property tax levy within contiguous areas. The enhanced services and programs are in addition to those currently provided through the City.

SSA-funded projects typically include but are not limited to: public way maintenance and beautification; district marketing and advertising; business retention/attraction, special events and promotional activities; auto and bike transit; security; facade improvements; and other commercial and economic development initiatives.

The City contracts with local non-profits, called Service Providers, to manage SSAs. Mayorally-appointed SSA Commissioners for each SSA district oversee and recommend the annual services, budget and Service Provider Agency to the City. For additional information, visit the City of Chicago's SSA Program online or download this presentation.

Current SSA Projects

  • Beautification and Maintenance
  • Business District Capacity Building
  • Economic Development
  • Brand Identity Strategy

SSA Commissioner Meetings

Commissioner meetings of the Special Service Area Hyde Park #61 Chicago IL are open to the public. The meetings will be held at the Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center and the Chicago Innovation Exchange.

Click here for a list of current SSA commissioners.

  • Meeting times are date and location dependent.

2015 Annual Report

In January 2013, a group of Hyde Park business leaders began discussing various ways to improve and promote the commercial business corridors along 53rd and 55th Streets. In 2014, Special Service Area #61 was established with the strategic mission To enhance and maintain a vibrant, pedestrian friendly, neighborhood commercial district that reflects the culture of Hyde Park, serving local stakeholders and attracting visitors.

Welcome to the 2015 Annual Report for Special Service Area #61! Our first year of operating was successful on several fronts which are described in more details on the following pages. The most visible was promoting the district as Downtown Hyde Park. More than just a brand, the Downtown Hyde Park concept creating a single contact point to attract visitors, new businesses and provides the opportunity for a consistent look throughout the neighborhood.

Click here for 2015 Annual Report.

2017 Meeting Schedule

Meeting locations are date-specific.

  • January 18, 2017 - 11:00 am
  • February 15, 2017 - 7:00 pm
  • March 2017 - No Meeting
  • April 19, 2017 - 11:00 am
  • May 2017 - No Meeting
  • June 21, 2017 - 11:00 am - Special Budget Meeting
  • July 19, 2017 - 11:00 am
  • August 2017 - No Meeting
  • September 20, 2017 - 7:00 pm
  • October 18, 2017 - 11:00 am
  • November 2017 - No Meeting Scheduled
  • December 6, 2017 - 11:00 am

SSA Meeting Minutes

Request for Proposals - RFPs

Special Service Area #61 - Downtown Hyde Park Chicago periodically releases a request for proposal (RFP) for services to be procured from 3rd party suppliers. Below you will find recent RFP opportunities.

  • RFP - 2016 Side Walk Cleaning: Download Here
  • RFP - Summer Sunday Concert Series Event Producer: Download Here
  • Note: Submission deadline for Summer Concert Series RFP's has been extended to April 22, 2016 with confirmed receipt by 5:00 pm CST.

Announcement: STA100 Award

CHICAGO, September 16, 2016 / Hyde Park / -- Downtown Hyde Park Chicago has recently been recognized for award-winning design the Society of Typographic Arts (STA). For residents and visitors alike, Downtown Hyde Park Chicago embraces and supports a rich blend of shopping, dining, cultural attractions and business services. This new identity has come to life through a vibrant visual identity, great taglines, street banners, a new website, and window signage for local businesses. 

In collaboration with Otherwise Inc, the SECC was able to create a brand platform that serves as a single source of engagement for Hyde Park visitors, residents and tourists, helping to promote the neighborhood and its businesses.

Press Release: Brand New Bike Racks

CHICAGO, April 28, 2016 / Hyde Park / -- Downtown Hyde Park Chicago recently commissioned the installation of 60 new bike racks within the Special Service Area Hyde Park footprint. The new additions will complement the 103 existing black hoop parking rails that were installed by the Chicago Department of Transportation more than two decades ago.

The SSA Hyde Park Commissioners recognize bicycling has grown tremendously, outpacing the supply of convenient bike parking. Based on mapping and comprehensive study data, the Commissioners unanimously supported a 2016 budget line item of $23,000 to fill in the gaps where secure bicycle parking was not easily accessible.

Downtown Hyde Park in the News

Hyde Park, the scene of President Obama’s visit April 7, 2016, has changed since the commander-in-chief was a law professor at the University of Chicago

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole looks at some of those transformations.

Snow Removal Ordinance

Chicagoans of all ages and abilities need to use the sidewalks to get where they’re going every day of the year. Many children, older adults, and people with disabilities face serious mobility challenges in winter time. Clear sidewalks are a shared community responsibility, and this new ordinance clarifies the requirements for snow and ice removal.

The new sidewalk snow regulations affect all home, business and property owners in Chicago. Business owners that rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow under the ordinance. Some landlords for residential and commercial property hold tenants responsible for snow clearance as a part of their lease agreements, others don't. Renters who aren't certain of their shoveling responsibilities should check their rental agreements or ask their landlords for clarification.

The new regulations take effect November 28, 2015.

You must shovel snow as soon as possible after it falls. You must shovel 7 days a week. You must clear a path at least 5 feet wide on all of the sidewalks adjacent to your property, including any crosswalk ramps. Do not shovel the snow into the right-of-way, which includes: transit stops and bus pads, parking spaces, bike lanes, bike racks, Divvy stations and any other space where snow impedes traffic of any kind.

SSA Service Provider

The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) led the initiative and efforts to establish the Hyde Park SSA #61 by working collaboratively with local stakeholders. The result of these efforts was the creation of the SSA that was launched in January of 2014. The SECC has a storied history in Hyde Park and four other communities.

The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) works to enhance the quality of life in five south side communities: Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Washington Park, and Woodlawn. Located just a few miles from downtown Chicago with easy access to the magnificent lake Michigan shoreline, our communities offer a wealth of opportunities to businesses and residents alike.

The commission is dedicated to its mission to achieve its work and goals.

The South East Chicago Commission works in collaboration with the University of Chicago and other institutions, businesses, and organizations to foster a spirit of community and to enhance the ongoing quality of life across the neighborhoods we serve.

Business Directory

directory map
The Downtown Hyde Park Chicago Blue Badge Business Program invites retail and service businesses within the SSA footprint to embrace the Downtown Hyde Park Chicago Blue Badge and participate in neighborhood-wide events, and experiences. The Blue Badge will readily identify your establishment as participating in advertising and marketing geared towards, residents, visitors, and tourists. In the coming months you will be invited to participate in, advertising promotions and promotional events at no cost to you.
hyde park badge



Downtown Hyde Park Chicago (SSA #61) is the epicenter of dining, shopping, entertainment, and culture in Hyde Park, one of Chicago's most vibrant neighborhoods. Visitors, neighbors and residents are all invited to see what's happening in Hyde Park Chicago.
For Singles and Couples

The 53rd Street Blog shared an incredible list of what's happening for Valentine's Day. Shop, eat, and drink locally with friends, family or loved ones.


2016 Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday holiday shopping kick off events were held Saturday, November 26, 2016.

The Downtown Hyde Park business district was activated at JOJAYDEN Shoes & Accessories including free appetizers by CHANT RESTAURANT and NOODLEs etc., with live music by LOW END THEORY DRUM ENSEMBLE in front of A10 restaurant. We also enjoyed another special visit from White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett who shopped at MODERN COOPERATIVE.

Kick off events are supported by the South East Chicago Commission, Downtown Hyde Park, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, 51st Street Business Association, Quad Communities Development Corporation, and University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement.

Hyde Park First Thursdays

Hyde Park First Thursdays are held monthly in Hyde Park Chicago | 53rd + 55th + 57th Street from 5:00pm - 8:00 pm. The monthly events feature discounts, dining, music, and fun at 40+ participating stores and restaurants. Check out First Thursdays though November 2016. #HPTHURS

2015 Downtown Hyde Park Fest in Review

The first annual Downtown Hyde Park Fest was held September 18-20, 2015 highlighting family fun in the picturesque Harper Court on 53rd Street. Hosted by the Special Service Area Hyde Park a.k.a Downtown Hyde Park, the festival was attended by more than 3,000 guests!


Retailer Forum Resources


The Hyde Park Vitality Committee thanks all of the retailers, arts and cultural institutions, local organizations, financial institutions, and community advocates for attending the 2017 Retailer Forum.

Feel free to utilize the information below to assist with your planning efforts.

Presentation: How to Capitalize on a Thousand People Outside Your Door Click here to download the presentation.

Presentation: Marketing Tactics & Execution
Click here to download the presentation.

2016-2017 Hyde Park Vitality Infographic
Click here to download the file.

2017 Hyde Park Calendar (listing)
Click here to download the listing.

Video: First Thursdays
Click here to watch the video.

Kenwood High School Band
Click here to download the donation flyer.
Click here to view their recent accomplishments

Connect with Downtown Hyde Park

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Bike Racks

The Special Service Area recently installed sixty new bike racks throughout the SSA footprint. The additional bike parking includes the Chicago Hoop racks (like the existing racks) and Downtown Hyde Park branded racks. To read more, click here to download the press release.

New Trees

The South East Chicago Commission in conjunction with the SSA replaced sixteen trees that were removed due to the ash borer beetle. These trees were replaced along 53rd street. This removes the trip fall hazard caused by tree stumps. The SSA will replace additional trees in 2016.

Beautification Projects

The SSA contracts with a private company to compliment the city in keeping the business footprint clean. We remediate litter three times a week within the foot print. One of the other things we do is hang colorful banners and provide for eighty six flower basket ornamentation year round.

Facade Program

The SSA is developing a Façade program to assist brick and mortar businesses with an upgrade of their current facades. We will perform a pilot façade that we envision to be completed by the end of 2015.

For more information visit:

Hyde Park Calendars


53rd Street / Hyde Park Events

Launch Calendar: Click Here

Chicago Reader: Hyde Park Events

Launch Calendar: Click Here

Hyde Park Village

Launch Calendar: Click Here

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

Launch Calendar: Click Here

Promontory Chicago | Music

Launch Calendar: Click Here

The Silver Room

Launch Calendar: Click Here

Affordable Housing Coalition for Equitable Community Development

1525 E 53rd St
Suite 907

Center for Population Economics

1311 E 57th St

Chicago Child Care Society

5467 S University Ave

Chicago Hyde Park Village

5500 S Woodlawn Ave

Harper Court Arts Council

1525 E 53rd St
Suite 720

Heartland Alliance

1709 E 53rd St

Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce

1715 East 55th Street

Hyde Park Jewish Community Center (JCC)

5200 S Hyde Park Blvd

Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference

1525 E 53rd St
Suite 907

KC Care

1525 E 53rd St
Suite 716

Office of Democratic Committeewoman Toni Preckwinkle - 4th Ward

1516 E 53rd Street

Office of State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie - 25th District

1303 E 53rd St

Office of State Senator Kwame Raoul - 13th District

1509 E 53rd St
Suite 2A

Quadrangle Temporary Agency

1525 E 53rd St
Suite 416

Service for Peace

5202 S Ingleside Ave

Shawn Knight Holland Scholarship Foundation

5400 S Hyde Park Blvd
Unit B-3

South East Chicago Commission (SECC)

1511E 53rd St
2nd Floor

South Side Help Center

1525 E 55th St
Suite 300-A

The Chicago Wisdom Project

5655 S University Ave 646-285-8263

University of Chicago - Enrico Fermi Institute

933 E 56th St


Traveling By Car

Downtown Hyde Park is accessible both by Lake Shore Drive, US-41 and the Dan Ryan Expressway, I-90/94. Consider using Uber or Lyft for car service.

Lake Shore Drive

From Lake Shore Drive, you can get to Downtown Hyde Park using the Hyde Park Boulevard, 53rd Street, or 57th Street Exits.

Dan Ryan Expressway

From the Dan Ryan Expressway, use exit 57B to head east on Garfield Boulevard. Continue on Garfield Boulevard until you reach Lake Park Avenue, and you will have arrived.

By Train

The Metra Electric District line of Chicago’s Metra commuter rail serves downtown Hyde Park. Hyde Park stations include the 51st/53rd Street Station, the 55th-56th-57th Street Station, and the 59th Street, University of Chicago Station. View tickets and schedules at the Metra Website.

By Bus

Downtown Hyde Park is served by the following CTA Bus Lines:
  • #2 – Hyde Park Express
  • #4 – Cottage Grove
  • #6 – Jackson Park Express
  • #10 – Museum of Science and Industry
  • #15 – Jeffery Local
  • #28 – Stony Island
  • #55 – Garfield
  • #59 – 59th/61st


Hyde Park is also serviced by the City of Chicago’s Divvy bikesharing program for $7.00 a day.

Hyde Park Divvy Stations:

  • 51st Street & Cottage Grove Avenue
  • Hyde Park Boulevard & Blackstone Avenue
  • Hyde Park Boulevard & Cornell Avenue
  • 53rd Street & Ellis Avenue
  • 53rd Street & Kimbark Avenue
  • 53rd Street & Lake Park Avenue
  • 55th Street & Ellis Avenue
  • 55th Street & Woodlawn Avenue
  • 55th Street & South Shore Drive
  • 56th Street & Lake Park Avenue
  • 57th Street & University Avenue
  • 58th Street & Ellis Avenue
  • 59th Street & Harper Avenue
  • 60th Avenue & Ellis Avenue
For residents and visitors alike, Downtown Hyde Park is not simply a commercial corridor found in any Chicago neighborhood... Downtown Hyde Park is its own small town - embracing and supporting a rich blend of shopping, dining, cultural attractions and business services - that invites those who walk its streets to experience the neighborhood's storied history of eclecticism, warmth and individuality.