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WICKER PARK — Three chefs from fine-dining restaurants will team up with three pizzerias Monday to raise money for My Block, My Hood, My City.

The collaboration was the idea of Caleb Trahan, sous chef at Schwa, a restaurant in Wicker Park. Trahan said Schwa has made it through the coronavirus pandemic by working with other restaurants, and he wanted to tap into that spirit to help others.

“Several of us involved had all done a little collaboration together when the shutdown happened and we had to switch to takeout-only,” Trahan said. “We were scrambling to figure out things. We all helped each other. … I thought maybe we could use that same camaraderie to help in other aspects.”

The result is a collaboration between Trahan and chefs Ryan Pfeiffer, formerly of Blackbird; Edwin Perez of Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar and Brian Fisher of Entente. 

Pfeiffer and Perez will work together with the owners of Eat Free Pizza in Bridgeport, which is part of a food-court at 960 W. 31st St. called Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream, said co-owner Cecily Rodriguez. The pizza portion of Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream is owned by Rodriguez; her fiancé, Billy Federighi; and Brad Shorten.

On Monday, they will offer a poutine-and-chilaquiles-inspired pizza called The Jeff that will be available for pickup at Pizza Friend Chicken Ice Cream.

Brian Fisher will team up with Table, Donkey and Stick in Logan Square, 2728 W. Armitage Ave., to offer a Sicilian-style ratatouille-inspired pizza.

And Trahan will team up with Tony Scardino, better known as Professor Pizza, to offer a jamon y melon grandma-style pizza with prosciutto and melon. It can be picked up at Schwa, 1466 N. Ashland Ave.

Trahan said he chose My Block, My Hood, My City after talking to Perez and would like to do more than a one-night fundraiser for the group.

“I liked their mission statement and they are an organization that I’d like to continue to work with because they do these outings with the teens and give them access to different food and dining experiences, that’s just one part of what they do,” Trahan said. “I’m trying to build a longer-term relationship with them.”

Trahan decided to team up with the other restaurants so they do more, since Schwa and other restaurants are limited by social distancing restrictions in the kitchen.

“We are are small restaurants, and part of why we collaborated is because, for example, we could only do 32 pizzas at Schwa. And 30 pizzas at Table, Donkey and Stick. Eat Free Pizza can do more, but combined we can make more than if we did it alone,” he said.

Ernesto Gonzalez, community organizer with My Block, My Hood, My City, said his group is excited about the fundraiser.

“Depending on how stuff goes on for this school year, it might include getting our kids laptops or reliable internet,” Gonzalez said. “Also, more socially distant explorations where we pick up the kids separately.

“Our whole philosophy here at My Block, My Hood, My City is, ‘What’s something simple that you can do that will have a positive impact on your block?’ And the whole essence of that phrase is like, ‘OK, I am good at IT. I can make a website for a local nonprofit.’ These restaurants stepped up and said, ‘You know what, we make food and that’s what we’re good at and we’ll do this to help others.'”

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Restaurants Offering Discounted 3-Course Meals Along With Free Entertainment For Taste Of Times Square Week

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses across the city, but some say Times Square has been disproportionately impacted.

But this week, several groups have joined together for an initiative with the goal of breathing life back into the neighborhood.

From Oct. 26-30, 2020, people can enjoy a three-course meal at 20 restaurants throughout the Theater District for $35 all while enjoying free performances by artists. (Credit: CBS2)

Under the bright lights of Times Square, diners are receiving a rare chance to feast on a hearty meal with a side of a performance.

“Tonight, I feel like revived, I feel like there’s life. It feels so good to be outside,” said Donna Adams, of Long Island.

It’s all a part of “Taste of Times Square,” which this year, because of the coronavirus, has been reimagined.

RELATED STORY: City Council Approves Extending Outdoor Dining Program, Use Of Heaters

Now for a full week, people can enjoy a three-course meal at 20 restaurants throughout the Theater District for $35 all while enjoying free performances by artists.

With about 50% of businesses in the area still closed, the Times Square Alliance says the initiative is a way to drive customers directly to restaurants.

“Food and music, what two better ways to bring people together. By combining both of those things, we’re all out here supporting each other,” Joe Papa, with the Times Square Alliance, told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.

Tony’s Di Napoli is serving near where the ball drops.

“For our customers to come and see this is a great boost of confidence and morale,” said Ciro Heta, manager of Tony’s Di Napoli.

From Oct. 26-30, 2020, people can enjoy a three-course meal at 20 restaurants throughout the Theater District for $35 all while enjoying free performances by artists. (Credit: CBS2)

With business down 75-85%, Le Rivage is grateful for the support.

“We try to stay open as much as we can,” restaurant manager Thibaud Muller said. “For sure, we don’t make any money right now.”

RELATED STORY: Musicians Bringing New Sound To NYC Streets With Pop-Up Performances

The Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe is organizing the dozens of performers taking part.

“By seeing artists out in the street again, I think it gives people hope that the arts and Broadway in New York City is going to come back,” said Holly-Anne Devlin, with Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe and Kaleidoscope Entertainment.

Organizers say there will be two or three unique performances every night between Sunday and Friday. The performances will take place between 5-7 p.m. and pop up in various locations throughout Times Square.

“The human connection means so much. Connecting with people through entertainment is just such a powerful thing,” contortionist Ellie Steingraeber said.

Connections that restaurant owners hope will help keep them alive.

For more information, visit tsq.org/taste.

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