Artists' Restaurant

The Loop
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The twentysomething waitress serving the outdoor cafe at the Artists' Restaurant (or Artists' Cafe, as it is popularly known) wears an outfit suitable for a work-out--shorts and a loose black T-shirt. And work out she does, moving fast between bar, kitchen counter and her outdoor domain, kicking the door open, schlepping plates and glasses, bending down to reach for some papers a guest dropped on the floor. About to pick up a platter laden with hamburger and french fries, she stops and addresses the guy in the kitchen: "That's cold. I won't serve this." A new platter is made while she rushes back out. It's a warm afternoon; almost all the outdoor tables are occupied. Owner Irene reigns behind the cash register, conversing with customers ("Have you had a nice little lunch?"), and allowing some of the waitresses, at one point, to gather around a guest who is a singer. The cafe sees its share of celebrities; one employee names Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jim Belushi as two who have graced the premises. Open since 1961, the Artists' Restaurant is a Fine Arts Building tradition. Makris and her sister (and co-owner) Angela Mitchell have worked there the longest; their employees include students as well as waitresses who have been with them for decades.