President Barack Obama surprised diners at River North's RPM Steak Wednesday night during his Chicago visit, ahead of a planned speech and a campaign event for Gov. Pat Quinn.
The president is in the city for a closed-door fundraiser for Quinn at a downtown hotel and a speech on the economy at Northwestern University Thursday.
Obama's Wednesday night schedule was not released in advance, so diners were surprised when the president stopped in at the restaurant, located at 66 W. Kinzie St., for dinner.
He was joined by White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and longtime friend Marty Nesbitt, who is leading the search for Obama's post-presidential library.
The restaurant is owned by reality stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic.
Air Force One landed at 7:07 p.m. at Gary’s airport, instead of O'Hare International Airport. Obama was greeted by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, and after a few words with the pair, the president boarded a helicopter to Chicago.
Obama's hometown visit comes on the same day the head of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned amid new revelations about security problems.
Joseph Clancy, once in charge of the president's security detail, was named acting director.
The president is expected to spend the night at his Kenwood neighborhood home on the city's South Side.
Obama's speech at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management begins at 1:15 p.m. on the Evanston campus, according to a statement from the school.
The school notes his visit marks the first by a sitting president in 60 years. Obama received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Northwestern in 2006.
“I am extremely pleased to announce that President Barack Obama will come to Northwestern’s campus in Evanston to make a major address about the economy and his plans to keep expanding opportunity for Americans,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said.
Obama is expected to leave the Chicago area on Thursday.
Michelle Obama will be in Chicago on Oct. 7 to support Quinn, and Hillary Clinton is expected on Oct. 8.
Quinn's campaign released a new radio ad Wednesday featuring the first lady lauding the governor's work on behalf of veterans and support for raising the minimum wage.
The big-name appearances may provide a welcome distraction for the Quinn campaign next week, when a state legislative committee is scheduled to hold hearings looking into the governor's troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
Early voting begins Oct. 20.