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Park District Nears Deal for Maggie Daley Park Restaurant

By David Matthews | January 12, 2015 5:49pm
 The park named for Chicago's former first lady features a skating ribbon that is open to the public.
The park named for Chicago's former first lady features a skating ribbon that is open to the public.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

THE LOOP — The skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park opened to much fanfare late last year. Come summer, visitors could enjoy a burger and beer at the park, too.

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners on Wednesday will vote to approve a permit with Chicago-based Four Corners Tavern Group to operate a restaurant and concession stand at the southern end of the park along Monroe Street, according to a meeting agenda. If approved, the two new eateries could open this summer, Four Corners Director Ryan Indovina said. 

The new Four Corners concept will reflect the "young and playful" vibe of the park named after Chicago's former first lady, Indovina said. Restaurant elements will include ample indoor and outdoor seating, a grab-and-go concessions area, and bar food similar to other Four Corners offerings such as fish tacos and buffalo chicken rolls. Crain's Chicago Business reported Monday the restaurant would be called Maggie's at the Park.

"We don’t envision white tablecloth linens or anything fancy," Indovina said. Founded in 2001, Four Corners operates 11 bars in Chicago including Schoolyard in Lakeview and Benchmark in Old Town. 

The restaurant would be built where The Green at Grant Park, a seasonal outdoor cafe and miniature golf course, was once located. Indovina did not make restaurant renderings available, saying Four Corners submitted those materials to the park district last year when it bid on the concession permit. Three applicants bid on the restaurant lease before the Four Corners proposal was recommended for board approval, public records show.

A Chicago Park District spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment or make the Four Corners bidding documents available.

Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy advocacy group, said he had not yet seen the Four Corners proposal, but hopes it will complement Maggie Daley Park's "elegant simplicity." He is also concerned that the park district board would approve a restaurant before its design is made public.

"Design is crucial in these issues, especially in Grant Park," O'Neill said. "The Lucas Museum was designed in a bubble and it burst."

If approved, the restaurant lease would last 10 years with five one-year extension options, park district records show. The park district board meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the eighth-floor board room at 541 N. Fairbanks Court. 

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