Revival Food Hall opened a day earlier than advertised, as the downtown food hall began serving Loop diners this morning. Craig Golden and Bruce Finkelman —the team behind Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s and other 16" On Center restaurants— aim to give downtown Chicago cheffy alternatives to the often mundane lunch offerings in The Loop.
The 15 vendors include Sarah Jordan’s (Johnny’s Grill) Graze Kitchenette and Danke from the team behind Table, Donkey and Stick. Golden and Finkleman chatted on Tuesday afternoon about Revival and here’s some highlights of the interview.
Why create a food hall in the first place?
Bruce Finkelman: If you look at the space, when we first walked through there, you have The Marquette building on the way there. I talked to a friend of mine, who is now famously known as "Oak Park Phil." They use this facility three times a day to walk to and from the train in morning, to get lunch in the afternoon, and at nightime to go home and to go back to the train. When you look at any of the concepts that we do, they all try to be beacons of the community, beacons of the neighborhood. That’s what this place naturally was. It was just a matter of putting stuff in there that would capture that.
There’s so much early buzz, particularly because you released the names of the vendors so slowly. Do you see yourselves as heroes, saving Loop workers from boring lunches?
Craig Golden: There’s not like there’s no place to eat. What we were most excited about is for people who come to work every day in the same office to have a pretty large variety of stuff to choose from that is of good quality would be a wonderful thing to have...
BF: ...And a lot of those people that work in this area go to our restaurants on a nightly basis, they just don’t have those kind of options in the downtown area. If you look at some of those outlying neighborhoods where there’s some of the most-talented chefs, doing some really great culinary...
BF: ...Culinarians. There’s just not that many options down here. There’s a barrier of entry where someone who’s starting out on their first restaurant, their second restaurant, you just can’t afford to go into a building and say I’m going to give it a shot down here. It’s just too expensive. One of the great things that Craig put forth on this thing was really kind of taking all of the extraneous things from owning a brick and mortar and letting these people come in and cook, which is what they wanted to do.
CG: We kind of like cool things. Our main motivation was to do something that we think is cool and that we’re proud of...If we were going to do something in the fast-casual world together, we’d do it with a group of like-minded folks. It’s very rewarding for us.
BF: Amen brother!
There’s another food court coming to the downtown area. Are you starting a trend?
BF: Food halls were here a long time before we were here, and they’ll be here a long time after we’re here. I don’t think either one of us play with trends very often. Like we said we just try to do things, to us, seem like really great ideas, fun ideas with the hopes that other people feel the same. So if some other people want to put some food halls in here, I think, Craig would you be happy with that?
CG: Sometimes I think the more the merrier. It’s not particularly a real estate-driven concept. I know they’ll find challenges in a lot of different buildings with who they’ll put in and how they’ll make it work. So, go for it.
Revival Food Hall, 125 S. Clark St., open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Bar stays open until 9 p.m.