THE LOOP — The new food court opening this summer in the Loop is going for a neighborhood vibe.
A cool one.
Revival Food Hall, set to open as early as July on the ground floor of a century-old Downtown office tower, is drawing indie restaurants from across the city (and Evanston) in an attempt to give Loop office workers something to take home that's tastier than typical fast food.
"The idea of the Loop becoming its own neighborhood ... I don't feel it's been treated as such," said Bruce Finkelman of 16" On Center, the restaurant group behind the food court. "These buildings down here are often used like ant trails, especially during the dark days of February."
Chicago-based developer Blue Star Properties acquired the 20-story tower at 125 S. Clark St., the former headquarters of ComEd and later Chicago Public Schools, in 2014 and is spending $130 million to renovate it into a project called The National. The food court derives its name from Daniel Burnham, the tower's legendary Chicago architect, who was known as a neoclassic revivalist, Finkelman said.
The 300-seat food court will open with 14 food "stalls," with room for more in the future. Restaurants moving in include Furious Spoon and Antique Taco of Wicker Park, a burger spot called Graze Kitchenette from Sarah Jordan of Logan Square's Johnny's Grill, and Danke, a charcuterie and sandwich place from the team behind Logan Square's Table, Donkey, and Stick.
On Wednesday the food court announced new restaurants, including the first brick-and-mortar spot for salad vending machine Farmer's Fridge ("they want to try some stuff that doesn't translate in the jar," Finkelman said), Evanston's Union Pizzeria and its "light and fluffy" Detroit-style pizza, and the first immobile restaurant from food truck The Fat Shallot.
"We're excited about that because people are like 'Where are you guys?'" Sam Barron of The Fat Shallot said.
The food court will also include a coffee bar with a 43-foot-long former Chicago Public Schools board table, and a record store and reading lounge from independent publisher Curbside Splendor. The tower was first built for a bank, and its basement bank vault will be rented out for private events. More announcements are on the way.
16" On Center is a partnership between Finkelman and Craig Golden, the president of Blue Star Properties. Together they own restaurants and concert venues including the Empty Bottle, Beauty Bar, Thalia Hall and The Promontory.
Golden says the food court is going for an "Asian market" feel where the vendors focus on just a few items. Finkelman said the team is choosing restaurants that will complement each other instead of compete.
"The idea is chefs bring their own neighborhood flavors," he said.
The food court will be topped by 585,000 square feet of offices, and those tenants are expected to move in around August, Golden said. When they do, they'll have a sixth-floor terrace and a lounge centered around an old chimney once in the office of ComEd's former president.
Here are more looks at the food court's construction before it opens.
The tower at 125 S. Clark St. [All photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews]
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