Tapas Barcelona partners with local restaurants to sell masks


Courtesy of Horacio Lopez

A Crosstown Collabs Mask. Crosstown Collabs features five unique mask designs, which each represent a partnership between two Chicago area restaurants.

Katrina Pham, Reporter

Tapas Barcelona has partnered with nine other local restaurants to start Crosstown Collabs, a mask-selling effort to reel in revenue amid the pandemic. 

Many Evanston and Cook County restaurants rely on take-out orders to stay afloat, with limited capacity for indoor dining. Some restaurants, including La Vaca Margarita Bar, are still closed for dine-in.

Horacio Lopez, the principal organizer of Crosstown Collabs and the son of the owners of Tapas Barcelona, said the initiative is a way to support local businesses by giving them “an extra boost of attention and revenue.”

Crosstown Collabs features five unique mask designs, which each represent a partnership between two Chicago-area restaurants. For each mask sold, restaurant partner pairs split the profit. Designs range from a cow and bull, which represents Tapas Barcelona and La Vaca Margarita, to a line of eggs with halos and wings, which represents Cleo’s Southern Cuisine and Ovo Frito Cafe.

Local restaurant Peckish Pig partnered with Chicago shop necessary & sufficient coffee to design a mask that portrays two pastel blue pigs against a white background set with pink, orange and white flowers. Janek Evans, Peckish Pig’s beverage director, said Crosstown Collabs is a reminder that just as community members should support local businesses, local businesses should also stand up for each other.

“It’s simply about supporting local, and there’s nothing better than seeing that your community thrives,” Evans said. “We grow up experiencing all of our special life moments in these establishments, and whether that be birthdays or proposals.”

Other collaborations include Polombia and Semilla’s Latin Kitchen as well as Ethiopian Diamond and Greenwood Grill.

Freelance artist Avery Li, who designed the masks, said she drew inspiration from the social media presence of each restaurant, as well as her conversations with the business owners.

“They were looking for a designer, and I was looking for work, so it just worked out,” Li said.

Even though she’s never visited Chicago, Li said she feels connected to the businesses. She heard from the owner of Polombia, for example, about the challenges of running a restaurant amid a pandemic.

While Lopez said he hopes the masks will bring more revenue and attention to local businesses, he also said he appreciates the opportunity to meet and share his experiences with other restaurant owners.

“No matter what neighborhood you’re from, everyone’s gone through it this past year,” Lopez said. “You see the weariness in everyone’s eyes, but you also see the love for their business and for their teams.”

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Twitter: @KatrinaPham_

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