Ariel Parrella-Aureli

I'm a freelance journalist in Chicago and the editor-in-chief of the hyperlocal news site LoganSquarist, dedicated to the Logan Square neighborhood. I am a regular contributor at Block Club Chicago, Chicago Reader, WTTW News, Streetsblog Chicago, Eater Chicago and have been published in Insider, Chicago Tribune, Latino USA, Univision Chicago, Curbed, Newcity and more. Originally from New Mexico and a first-generation Italian-American, my reporting focuses on social justice, arts and culture, immigration, equity, food and more. Outside of journalism, I love to bike, cook, read and say hello to other people's dogs. 

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Kyōten Chef Opening Sushi Restaurant Hinoshi Sushiko Thursday In Bucktown

BUCKTOWN — The chef behind a critically acclaimed Logan Square sushi spot is opening a dual-concept sushi restaurant in the Elston Avenue corridor in Bucktown Thursday. Chef Otto Phan, known for sushi spot Kyōten, is opening Hinoki Sushiko at 1465 W. Willow St. on Thursday at half capacity, per the city’s coronavirus guidelines. The restaurant is opening as the area is undergoing massive redevelopment, with new projects breathing life into the area’s old industrial spots.

Meet the founders of Masa Madre, a bakery blending Mexican and Jewish flavors

On a bright Chicago spring morning, longtime friends and business partners Tamar Fasja Unikel and Elena Vasquez Felgueres ventured out from their Southside home to the northwest side of the city to view a rental space. It’s the first one of many that they planned to visit, as the two are in search of a permanent home for their Mexican-Jewish bakery Masa Madre, which has grown quickly in the city and suburbs since launching in February 2019.

Toddler Shot On Lake Shore Drive Is In Coma, On Ventilator As Doctors Fight To Save His Life

CHICAGO — The 21-month-old boy shot in his head Tuesday while in a car on Lake Shore Drive remains in critical condition. The boy, identified as Kayden Swann, has been placed on a ventilators and is in an induced coma to protect his brain, officials said during a Wednesday news conference outside Lurie Children’s Hospital, where the toddler is being treated. The boy is being treated in the hospital’s Pediatric ICU, where he’s getting “full critical care support,” officials said.

Marchers Take To Logan Square Streets To Demand Justice For 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo

LOGAN SQUARE — After news spread that a police officer killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village Monday, a small crowd gathered in Logan Square Friday night to demand justice and more accountability and transparency from the police. At around 2:30 a.m. Monday, a police officer shot and killed the seventh grader in the 2300 block of South Sawyer Avenue in Little Village. The Police Department has released few details about the incident, saying officers were responding to a ShotSpotter alert.

After Heart Surgery, Alligator Robb Takes Slow Steps Toward Recovery — With Help From Chicagoans: 'You Guys ... Have Blessed Me So Many Times'

HUMBOLDT PARK — Frank Robb, known to most Chicagoans as Alligator Robb, is counting his blessings after undergoing life-threatening heart surgery and can’t wait to get back to helping people and animals. Florida alligator trapper, who became a Chicago legend when he caught Chance the Snapper in the Humboldt Park lagoon in 2019, found out late last year he needed heart valve surgery. He didn’t have medical insurance, struggled to find a surgeon who would perform the risky procedure and sought help paying for it.

This 13-Year-Old's Website Is Helping People Across Chicago Snag Vaccine Appointments

CHICAGO — If you’re struggling to book a coronavirus vaccine appointment, 13-year-old Eli Coustan and his team of volunteers can help. Coustan, who lives in Evanston, created ILVaccine in February to help the appointment-hunting process be less maddening for Illinois residents. The site is searchable by county and shows available appointments in Chicago and the suburbs by pulling data from city vaccination sites and other providers.

World’s largest private haggadah collection goes to the University of Chicago

Since 1982, Stephen Durchslag has collected thousands of haggadot from around the world, acquiring what is believed to be the largest private one in the world. Now, the former Chicago attorney has bequeathed it to the University of Chicago to enhance and grow its exposure for generations to come. The collection features over 4,500 Passover Haggadot in 31 languages. The oldest, written in 1485, dates back to more than five centuries; the newest is from 2020, Durchslag said.

Chicago-Area Holocaust Survivors Are Now Getting Vaccinated: ‘It Made Me Feel Part Of The World Again’

WEST RIDGE — After months of isolation and feeling uncertain about the future, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Leonie Bergman has hope that she’ll soon be able to see her friends and family again. Her newfound positivity and relief come from her first dose of the COVID vaccine on March 7. In a few weeks, she will get her second Moderna shot. Then, she plans to call her friends and see them for the first time since October. “It’s been a long time and I don’t go anywhere because I don’t want to

Stand-up anywhere with Comedy Pickup — Best of Chicago 2020

Every time I walk to Humboldt Park, which is a weekly occurrence that has kept me sane and outside during the pandemic, I’m reminded of a patch of grass that was full of laughter and community during summer 2020: It was comedy in a pickup truck. When entertainment venues shuttered in the early half of the year, artists all over the city struggled. As the summer months brought much-needed brightness, the local comedy scene got creative. Eager to get in front of a crowd again and connect over some

Chicago Takes 10 Performance Series Brings Musicians, Dancers Back To The Stage After A Year. Here's How You Can Tune In

SOUTH SHORE — Dancer Keisha Janae has adjusted to life without the stage and minimal teaching in the pandemic, though it’s been a challenge. But thanks to a new grant-funded project, she will take the stage again in May — and get some much-needed financial security doing it. Janae is one of 100 performers featured in a new virtual performance series called “Chicago Takes 10,” which includes pre-recorded shows of musicians, dancers and multi-disciplinary makers at 10 nonprofit art venues across

In Wake Of Deadly Georgia Shooting, Chicagoans Are Combating Anti-Asian Violence Nationwide: ‘Be Part Of The Solution’

CHICAGO — Chicago’s Asian community and allies are standing up to combat the rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent after a man killed eight people, including six Asian women, Tuesday in Georgia. The attacker in the Georgia shootings, which occurred at three spas in two areas, confessed and has been charged with murder and assault, according to NPR. Violence targeting Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has a long history in the United States, but it has spiked over the last year.

The death (and resurrection?) of Crown Liquors — Best of Chicago 2020

Folks living in the Logan-Avondale area vividly remember the crushing news of popular bar and liquor store Crown Liquors closing its doors in April last year. It was one of the early businesses to shutter due to the pandemic, which started the cycle of sadness we've been stuck in: watching our favorite bars, theaters, and restaurants get uprooted. After mourning the loss of the staple that existed since the Prohibition era—a place that housed a plethora of memories, new friends, dance parties, a

Big Changes Coming To Logan Square Streets This Summer: Buffered Bike Lanes, More Outdoor Dining And Less-Confusing Traffic Circle

LOGAN SQUARE — Buffered bike lanes, sidewalk and street resurfacing and more curb space for outdoor dining are coming to the 35th Ward this year. At a Tuesday community meeting organized by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa’s (35th) office, the alderman and representatives from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Water Management shared construction project updates and the winners of the 2021 participatory budgeting cycle. Work will begin in April on street resurfacing, curb extensio

Push To Rename Kolmar Park For German And Jewish Poet Killed In Holocaust Gets Her Family's Support — From All Around The World

OLD IRVING PARK — The effort to rename a Northwest Side park in honor of a German and Jewish writer who was killed in the Holocaust is gaining international support — including from one of her relatives, who lives thousands of miles away. Late last year, neighbors began a campaign to rededicate Kolmar Park, 4143 N. Kolmar Ave. in Old Irving Park, in honor of poet Gertrud Kolmar. Kolmar was born in Berlin in 1894 and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in March 1943. She wrote more than 450

A community rallying to help Chicago’s only kosher fish market is a good sign — literally

Sometimes a sign is more than a sign. In 2019, the City of Chicago informed Robert’s Fish Market, the only kosher fish market in Chicago, that the permit for its iconic sign had expired. The city fined the shop’s owner, Arturo Venegas, and Venegas took it down. That made a tough business even tougher. But it also galvanized neighborhood support, leading to a new sign — and new hope for the revitalization of a Jewish neighborhood.

These Southwest Siders Are Feeding Hundreds For Free And Putting Laid-Off Restaurant Workers Back To Work

ARCHER HEIGHTS — María Dolores Lopez and her two daughters spent nearly five hours at the family cafe Tuesday, preparing hundreds of meals. It’s been months since De Colores, 3838 W. 49th St., has been this active — and Tuesday was not business as usual. The cafe has been closed since October because of the pandemic, and Lopez sorely needs assistance to reopen. In the meantime, she’s offering up her kitchen to package meals for a new food giveaway program feeding families and older people in need.

17-Year Cicadas Will Make This Summer Extra Loud For Illinois — But Chicago Will Be Spared For Now

CHICAGO — Parts of Illinois will be subjected this summer to the roar of cicadas that only come up once every 17 years — but Chicago will get a reprieve. Singing cicadas are part of every Illinois summer, but this year will see a special variety come from the ground on top of the usual subjects. They’ll only emerge in parts of southern Illinois, though. The brood of cicadas — Brood X, called The Great Eastern Brood — will hit five counties in central and eastern Illinois: Edgar, Clark, Crawford and Vermilion.

Dog Walkers, Pet Sitters Try To Hold On With Minimal Business During Pandemic

NORTH SIDE — The coronavirus pandemic led to thousands of people adopting and fostering dogs and cats — but dog walkers and pet sitters have actually seen business go down. Since many people with pets are able to work from home or facing financial setbacks due to the pandemic, North Side dog walking and pet sitting companies are struggling. Some pet services — with no obvious way to pivot — are operating at 25-50 percent of the work they did pre-COVID. Carla Pastorelli, who owns dog walking co

Jahmal Cole, My Block, My Hood, My City Founder, Hopes To Take Bobby Rush's Seat In Congress

CHATHAM — Longtime activist Jahmal Cole is looking to replace Rep. Bobby Rush in the district he’s represented in Congress for nearly three decades. Cole, the founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, filed for candidacy with the Federal Election Commission last week, seeking the House seat representing Illinois’ 1st District. He called it a special moment and “one of the most American things I’ve done.” The 1st District includes several South Side neighborhoods and southwest suburbs.
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