The Crusader Newspaper Group

Woodlawn’s Grand Ballroom reopens after being shut down for COVID-19 restrictions

The historic Grand Ballroom, located at 6351 S. Cottage Grove Ave., is back, open for business after being shut down by the city last year because it violated Chicago’s COVID-19 restrictions.

A staff member of The Grand Ballroom contacted the Crusader January 27 saying the facility was back in business. The Crusader confirmed the facility’s reopening with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

It was that agency that closed The Grand Ballroom last December, after it hosted an event that included 200 guests, many of whom were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. As part of the long-term closure, The Grand Ballroom was required to submit a plan that BACP had to approve before it reopened for business.

Isaac Reichman, spokesperson for BACP, said that plan “was approved and fully executed following a BACP walk through on January 8. Under current regulations, events are allowed at the lesser of 25 percent capacity, or 25 people. Tables must be six feet apart, no more than six people per table, patrons must be seated when eating/drinking, and face coverings must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking.”

Reichman did not say whether The Grand Ballroom was fined because of the violations of the city’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The Grand Ballroom did not respond to the Crusader’s request for an interview, but during a reporter’s visit to the facility on Saturday, January 30, the city’s orange Notice of Closure sticker that had been placed on the front door was gone.

The Grand Ballroom was among more than 300 Chicago businesses that since October 30 have been cited for violations of the city’s restrictions on indoor gatherings and dining.

Another venue frequented by the Black community, the Black Cat Lounge in Morgan Park, was issued a citation for violating the city’s restrictions on gathering during the coronavirus pandemic. The Black Cat Lounge has since reopened.

For decades, The Grand Ballroom has hosted wedding receptions, birthday parties and private events. Many of the events on the facility’s website were old, and it remains unclear how much business the Grand Ballroom lost due to the closure and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Grand Ballroom was previously known as the Loeffler Building, whose neighbors were the 3,200-seat Tivoli Theatre movie palace, and the seven-story Pershing Hotel, once owned by playwright Lorraine Hansberry.

As Chicago’s Black Belt expanded in the 1940s, white residents moved out of the Woodlawn neighborhood and left its hotels and ballrooms. The buildings became hubs of the South Side’s African American jazz and social scenes. The Pershing Hotel and Tivoli Theatre were demolished decades ago. A Family Dollar store now occupies the site of the Tivoli Theatre.

In 2003, The Grand Ballroom underwent a major restoration after being saved from demolition. Today, the facility includes an original 60-foot oak bar and a 6,500-square-foot dance floor illuminated by graceful arched windows. The stage is a dramatic scalloped shell reminiscent of the inside of Cinderella’s fairytale carriage.


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