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Red Line Reconstruction: 35th Street Businesses Expect More Traffic, Sales

By Casey Cora | May 16, 2013 6:37am
 Pizzeria and popcorn shop could benefit from Red Line shutdown.
35th Street Business Bronzeville
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BRONZEVILLE — Business was brisk during the lunch rush at Miller Pizza, so much so that patrons stood nearly shoulder to shoulder in line for slices of deep dish.

And with the shutdown of the CTA Red Line just days away, business might be improving.

That’s because stores like Miller Pizza and Mother Butters Popcorn and Confectionery next door are situated on a stretch of 35th Street between two "L" stops — the CTA Green Line 35th/Bronzeville/IIT stop and the soon-to-be-closed Red Line Sox/35th stop.

The CTA is set to shut down the Red Line south route, which begins at Cermak Road and ends at 95th Street, for the six-month project.

When the Sox station shutters on Sunday, many commuters looking to get to U.S. Cellular Field or neighborhoods west of the Dan Ryan Expressway will be boarding trains exiting at the 35th Street Green Line station and walking right past the pizzeria, popcorn shop and chain stores on their way to the ballpark or back home.

“We welcome the Red Line shutdown for the foot traffic,” said Rod Miller, owner of the lunch counter at 17 W. 35th St. “We get you in and get you out.”

Miller, of University Park, recommends customers in a hurry call ahead or use the online ordering function of the pizzeria’s website.

Tim Donnelly, co-owner of the Mother Butters popcorn shop, said the timing Red Line reconstruction is fortuitous.

Business at the 5-year-old storefront, which sells gourmet popcorn, candy and homemade fudge, typically winds down in the summer, when classes dismiss at nearby Illinois Institute of Technology.

“People think summer is the best season for us but it’s not,” said Donnelly, 42, of Pilsen. “This will be a good opportunity to find more customers.”

Donnelly, who runs the store with his wife, Jennifer, is hoping those prospective new customers become repeat visitors when the Red Line reconstruction ends in the fall — transportation officials say it'll be mid mid-October — and the Sox stop reopens.

“Maybe they’ll walk down and visit us again,” he said.