Management behind Time Out Market closed the massive Fulton Market food hall in March before Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered the suspension of dine-in service for all restaurants in Illinois. Now, five months later, the food hall from the publishers of the entertainment magazine is reopening with a depleted lineup. The Tribune reports the food hall will reopen on Wednesday, August 26 with eight of its original 17 restaurants for indoor and outdoor dining.
Fulton Market has since joined the city’s dining out program, and there’s potential for Time Out to use the street to seat customers. The hall will utilize sidewalk patios, as well as the outdoor rooftop bar on the third floor.
But the food hall lineup won’t be the same. Since March, multiple vendors have said Time Out has given them the option to end their one-year agreement early. The food hall first opened in November with 17 restaurants.
But it’s what’s not returning that’s interesting. Some may return. But for now, Hai Sous’ modern Vietnamese food from Thai Dang is absent. So is Kevin Hickey’s (Duck Inn Dogs) second stall, Decent Beef. Band of Bohemia and Fat Rice are also both gone. The two restaurants closed earlier this year under their own respective clouds of controversy. The Purple Pig’s Jimmy Bannos Jr., who has his own court case, was also not among the list of returning restaurants.
John Manion (El Che Steakhouse & Bar) and Tortello are also absent, as is the second-floor bar from Lost Lake, the tropical cocktail spot in Logan Square. There were four bars inside the food hall — three run by Time Out. The first-floor bar, which focused on local craft beer, appears primed to reopen.
A spokesperson says “Time Out Market Chicago is reopening with a limited lineup in order to provide adequate social distancing for both guests and chefs/restaurants.” Time Out touted its vendor lineup before opening last year, saying it would be able to give chefs international opportunities and use synergy with its media arm to give chefs additional exposure. For example, on top of its curated “best of” lists, the magazine lists its vendors first as means of product placement.
Food halls, with indoor communal seating, aren’t very pandemic friendly. Time Out joins Chicago’s French Market, Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, Heaven on Seven inside Macy’s on State Street, and Wells Street Market as food halls that have welcomed back customers inside. Politan Row in West Loop has opened its patio on select days. Also in the Loop, a few of Revival Food Hall’s vendors have been been serving customers. However, the recent looting that’s affected downtown has altered some vendors plans to return.
Time Out relied heavily on West Loop and Fulton Market workers. With folks still working at home, lunch crowds will be different. Time Out hopes that an early evening happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. will draw crowds, according to the Tribune. After five months, restaurants have already gone through several pivots. It’s time to see if food halls can adjust as well.