I’m sure that while working from home there have been times where you just need to leave the house for a break, any children who are remote learning too. While you can have a set schedule for the day to mimic the day before our new norm,. something we all have to do is have lunch and step away from work and lessons. If you are in the West Loop or want to take a lunchtime field trip, consider stopping by PB&J. Since September 17th they have been offering a ‘Lunch Break’ for caregivers and children. Every Thursday from 11:00am-2:00pm diners can expect different kid-friendly themes and games.
This West Loop hangout offers educational workbooks and coloring sheets at each table, as well as sidewalk chalk competitions, kid-friendly songs on the Jukebox, and a list of socially distanced games to play. And if one of the kids plays something inappropriate the staff will be ready with the “skip” button. All signature menu items will be available for purchase during Lunch Break. Reservations can be made online and walk-ins are welcome. Cocktail specials starting at $10 will be available for the kids at heart, also known as those who are 21 and older. Additionally, a free whole loaf of PB&J will be served to the table with every adult entree purchase.
“We know how hard it has been on for families and teachers to adjust to remote learning, so we wanted to give them a space to show our appreciation,” says Co-Owner Matthew McCahill. “We understand schools can’t host in-person classes, but that doesn’t mean PB&J can’t have kids for lunch while social distancing.” When asking what and how they came up with the activities, McCahill responded, that they are based on social distancing to allow these children to have lunch, interact with their peers and hopefully make some new friends or have something to talk about on zoom breaks. “Right now my kids who were outgoing are becoming introverts. I needed a change for them.” he says.
PB&J is also encouraging students to spread the word and bring in their friends, and rewarding those who do. If five students from the same classroom come in, PB&J will deliver a free pizza to their teacher.
I stopped in this past week for lunch and with its patio, distanced tables, open windows to enjoy the breeze, and fun vibes, it is a great place to unwind and enjoy your break! I consider myself young at heart and started doodling on my coloring sheet and working my way through the maze before my guests did on their own sheet. Kids will find a menu just for them, consisting of grilled cheese, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich among other comfort kid favorites.
From the signature menu, my guest and I tried the Burrata & Balsamic pizza and the Truffle Fries along with the PB and J sandwich from the children’s menu. The pizza topped with burrata, arugula, balsamic glaze, and garlic oil tasted amazing and fresh. And for those who like a nice crust, this definitely gets a thumbs up. The fries in black truffle aioli and parmesan tasted devine. With a variety on its drink menu, grown-ups will find something to go with their meal. If you are looking for something smokey and refreshing, go for the Nosy Rosey. There is something for everyone to enjoy on the menu and better than the pizza I remember from my grade school cafeteria.
When I asked McCahill what would you like families to know about this ‘Lunch Break’ time and setting for them, he responded with having social distance, and safe interaction for children during their 45 min break. This is why we are having parents call/text their order in before they come so the food is almost. Ready when they get here. A quick hi and hello, smiles and waves from across tables and if time, a few interactive while socially distant games but either way, the kids will get to brag during zoom break. Or say, “good seeing u at lunch!” Anything!”
A great place for that much needed midday lunch and break, check out PB&J for lunch with the kids.
Located in the heart of West Loop, PB&J is Chicago’s newest local hangout and event space specializing in namesake areas: Pizza, Beer, and Jukebox. Serving Neapolitan style pizzas, cold beer on tap, and craft cocktails, guests are welcome to enjoy the casual, lively environment and choose their soundtrack on the state-of-the-art TouchTunes Jukebox. Garage-style retractable walls make diners feel as if they are dining alfresco on one of Chicago’s liveliest streets.
All photos by Eucarol Juarez