The Windy City has time and time again demonstrated why it’s known for food. Chicago style dogs and deep dish pizza have been filling the stomachs of hungry Midwesterners since the city’s founding. Delicious cuisine is a cultural fixture here in Chicago—and now it’s evolving. A new trend, food halls, is spreading like wildfire across the nation, and Chicago is helping lead the charge.
The Revival Food Hall on South Clark Street, between the Art Institute of Chicago and the Willis Tower, is case and point. It is a spacious venue that currently boasts fifteen of some of the city’s finest food in the form of stands (two of which being Smoque BBQ and Black Dog Gelato, just saying). Basically, each stand sells their specialties, and lucky patrons can then bring their food back to the long tables close by.
Although it was supposed to open last Thursday, it actually opened Wednesday, and immediately prospective diners began waiting in line, eager with anticipation. Revival’s target market is mostly made up of hungry Chicago office workers, so it is very convenient, quick, and of course, delicious. This all said, it is hardly the first food hall of its kind, and it most certainly won’t be the last.
That’s because food halls boast a number of advantages that traditional restaurants just can’t offer. Revival and halls like it foster culinary camaraderie while requiring minimal investment. Not to mention, they’re the trend right now, and although fads don’t last, profitability does. That’s why these stands are so proud to be standing together.
When these local stands come together, they are able to pool their funds and rent out a primetime space, bringing small-town cuisine to a downtown atmosphere. Independent locations may be too expensive for local stands to foot alone, but these food halls allow the maintenance costs to be split among participating vendors, which in turn allows the vendors to focus on what matters: their food—and getting that food to the salivating customers.
Just as well, food halls allow stands to piggyback off of each other’s reputations. Maybe one brand is enough to get a customer in the door, and then that customer decides to branch out and try something new. That restaurant (or stand) just brought in a new customer. Although, it should definitely be noted that this same logic could easily backfire—that one brand brings a customer in the door only to have their image ruined by a partnering stand.
Food halls are sweeping the country with good reason, and Chicago’s Revival Hall is that reason. Check it out or be mad that you missed out. It’s that simple.