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The Food Hall Trend Isn’t Ending in Chicago

The latest, Forum 55, should open in October in The Loop

The Under 55 Cafe will reopen as a renovated food hall downtown.
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Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

One of the biggest salad bars in Chicago, with produce from top-notch farmers like MightyVine and Windy City Harvest, is one of the offerings inside a new downtown food hall planned to open in October at 55 E. Monroe St. Forum 55 replaces the Under 55 Cafe food court on the lower level inside the Mid-Continental Plaza.

Forum 55 will feature 10 stalls, according to the Tribune, but they won’t reveal them until next week. Expect pizza, sushi, a deli, and breakfast foods. The project is from the same ownership as the old food court.

Food halls are a big trend in Chicago, ignited from the success of Revival Food Hall in The Loop. Revival’s success has been recognized nationally, as they’ve brought together diverse combo of Chicago restaurants. Former Revival director of operations Justin Anderson has left the company for Denver and is working on opening a food hall in Colorado. He’s even working with The Budlong’s Jared Leonard, a Revival vendor. Leonard is opening up a Montreal-style smoked meats spot at the upcoming Zeppelin Station in Denver. Leonard will be joined by Aloha Poke Co. in Denver.

Back to Chicago, where Forum 55’s owners are saying they’re targeting women and minority would-be restaurateurs. They want to provide them incubator space to help them achieve their dreams of opening a restaurant. The project includes a market to sell their goods, according to the Trib.

Here’s a list of other upcoming food halls in Chicago:

  • Forum 555, targeted opening in October in The Loop
  • Beacon St. Market, targeted opening in 2018 in Uptown
  • Lakeview Market, targeted opening summer 2018 in Lakeview
  • Wells St. Market, targeted opening 2017 in The Loop. The market was supposed to open over the summer.
  • Time Out unnamed food hall, targeted opening TBD in Fulton Market. Ownership has yet to confirm the project.