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Revival Food Hall’s Owners to Revamp Century-Old Downtown Landmark

Holocene Chicago is described as an extended pop-up with rotating food and retail

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.

The team behind Revival Food Hall has plans to transform a Downtown Chicago landmark. Thanks to a lease signed by Friedman and Blue Star properties (the latter a subsidiary for Chicago hospitality company 16” on Center) the team has taken over the 109-year-old Medinah Temple with plans for a rotating slate of food stalls and shops. The operation is called Holocene Chicago and while it’s not billed as a permanent concept, ownership hopes the extended pop-up gains traction.

Ownership is gunning for a fall opening. The 135,000-square-foot building is a relic with a familiar domed roof at Ohio and Wabash. At Holocene, a news release suggested customers could sip coffee during a book lecture, register for a tequila tasting, or explore a healthy cooking demonstration from a nutrition influencer. This isn’t a food hall, this is a retail-dominated project, a spokesperson clarifies.

16” on Center — which owns Ukrainian Village bar and music venue Empty Bottle, Thalia Hall in Pilsen, and MONEYGUN in West Loop — hasn’t revealed food and beverage details. Craig Golden, president of Blue Star and a partner at 16″ on Center, tells the Tribune that they’re experimenting to try something social and fun, floating a trial balloon to see what will work in a post-pandemic world.

It’s easy to strike similarities with Revival, which was billed as an incubator for inexperienced chefs interested in opening their own restaurant. The space ended up featuring established names such as James Beard Award-wining pastry chef Mindy Segal; Bill Kim, the celebrated chef behind Urban Belly; and Smoque, the popular Chicago barbecue. Hungry Hound Steve Dolinsky, the former ABC Chicago TV personality, launched a rotating pizzeria so he could use Revival as a downtown pickup point for his culinary tours.

But during the pandemic, most of Revival’s tenants left. Revival has evolved again with office traffic crushed — Bank of America’s Chicago headquarters has already vacated the space across the street. Revival has brought in a diverse lineup of international cuisines — from Minahasa’s Indonesian to Boonie Food’s Filipino. It’s also become a hub for delivery orders. 16” on Center’s co-founder Bruce Finkelman has shown a willingness to think out of the box. For example, in Hyde Park, he launched an extended Mexican restaurant pop-up with chef Jonathan Zaragoza inside the Promontory. Finkelman confirms the restaurant El Oso is on hiatus. But as the pandemic has left uncertainty, a rotating lineup for food vendors provides flexibility and opportunity in Downtown Chicago.

New Bloomingdales Store To Open In Chicago
Medinah Temple housed a Bloomingdale’s furniture store that opened in 2003.
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The shopping while sipping model is something pioneered by Restoration Hardware in Gold Coast after the company partnered with restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff to open the 3 Arts Club Cafe. Sodikoff has since departed the project, but its success showed an appetite to merge dining and retail beyond the mall food court concept.

Holocene Chicago, 600 N. Wabash, planned for a fall opening.

  • Big changes — shopping, dining, entertainment — coming to Chicago’s landmark Medinah Temple [Tribune]

Medinah Temple

600 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611