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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
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Harry Caray’s: In the Spirit of Slats Grobnik

CHICAGO (CN) - In a lawsuit that recalls Mike Royko's character Slats Grobnik, Harry Caray's Tavern sued its landlord, Navy Pier, claiming a tree-planting project will block the tavern's view of the lake and provide a haven for rats.

Harry Caray's Tavern Navy Pier sued Navy Pier Inc. and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, in Cook County Court.

Harry Caray announced Chicago White Sox and Cubs ball games for decades, and was known for his expression, "Holy cow!" and for leading fans in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. Six restaurants bear his name.

Slats Grobnik was a mythical boyhood companion of Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who claimed Slats refused to leave the sidewalk to walk on grass, saying, "Worms live there."

In its lawsuit, Harry Caray's Tavern says: "This is an action for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prohibit MPEA and Pier, Inc. from commencing its redevelopment of the South Pier portion of Navy Pier adjacent to Harry Caray's Tavern at Navy Pier - set to begin any day - because the redevelopment plans will substantially interfere with and destroy Harry Caray's rights under its lease at Chicago's Navy Pier."

Navy Pier is a commercial district and tourist attraction on Lake Michigan.

Harry Caray's Tavern adds: "Among other things, as part of [Navy Pier's] redevelopment plan and in violation of Harry Caray's rights under its lease, MPEA and Pier, Inc. intend to: (a) unreasonably reconfigure Harry Caray's outdoor seating area, (b) install large trees and planter boxes with tall plantings which will obstruct access to and visibility of Harry Caray's and block the unobstructed views of Lake Michigan, the city skyline, Navy Pier fireworks and other attractions from Harry Caray's outdoor seating area, and (c) install large planter boxes and tree pits in and around Harry Caray's outdoor seating area that are known havens for rats."

The restaurant claims that adding trees around its outdoor seating will pose a fire hazard, as they interrupt a fire lane recommended by the Chicago Fire Department.

Harry Caray's seeks an injunction against Navy Pier's redevelopment plans, insofar as they will affect the restaurant.

It is represented by Donald Tarkington with Novack and Macey.

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