Chicago restaurants, businesses feel 'NATO effect' - FOX 32 News Chicago

Chicago restaurants, businesses feel 'NATO effect' as dignitaries arrive

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago is certainly used to celebrities, socialites and big parties - but the NATO summit is something totally new for Chicago.

Last night there was a lot of activity, and an obvious increase in security as Mayor Rahm Emanuel was spotted dashing into the Park Hyatt Hotel at Chicago and Michigan - reportedly to personally welcome Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's entourage.

No word if he ventured further north to the Four Seasons Hotel, which is a couple of blocks away on E. Delaware. That is where sources told FOX Chicago News Afghan President Hamid Karzai is staying.

Karzai also is said to have a special distinction at the NATO summit. Sources said he has "the biggest depth of security layers of any head of state - except for President Obama."

That protection includes his own Afghan team, the U.S. Secret Service, Chicago police and the added security detail the hotel itself has hired.

Sounds like Valerie Trierweiler, the unmarried partner of new French president Francois Hollande, may get as much attention as her predecessor, Carla Bruni, the wife of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

That's why there's sure to be lots of press attention when Trierweiler visits Chicago's French-language school - the Lysee De Francais at Irving Park and Lake Shore Drive on Monday.

Like everywhere else NATO-related, the security perimeter around The Art Institute will be massive Sunday night, as First Lady Michelle Obama hosts that dinner for the spouses of NATO heads of state.

FOX Chicago News learned the spouses will be given a brief overview of the museum's amazing collections. The dinner's menu will be extremely diverse, to respect both religious dietary customs and a wide range of allergies the special guests represent.

While Chicago's current mayor is busy working 24-7 on NATO this weekend. His predecessor, former mayor Richard Daley, was spotted looking very relaxed and totally at ease, lunching at Gibson's on Rush Friday.

Daley was overheard saying how proud he is the city is hosting the summit. But he also looked very happy that he no longer is responsible for whatever happens this weekend.

Merchants running stores and restaurants along Michigan Avenue universally said that for a beautiful Saturday, there was a definite "NATO effect."

At Bandera Restaurant - usually a long waiting list for lunch - it was immediate seating. Stores ranging from Crate & Barrel to high-end boutiques like Ferregamo to Macy's at Water Tower Place, all reported very slow business.

R-L Restaurant owned by Ralph Lauren is normally well over-sold for Saturday nights. But even walk-ins will be quickly served Saturday night.

By the way, NATO has not generated a big social scene for prominent Chicagoans. Most of them have planned to be out of town this weekend, many high-tailing it to weekend homes in Wisconsin and Michigan.

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