As Chicagoans cautiously return to downtown, they’re going to need a space to eat. Urbanspace wants to be that oasis, a 12,000-square-foot food hall with 12 restaurants and a bar located steps from State Street in the Loop.
Urbanspace is a New York food hall operator that has plans for pair of Chicago venues. They’ve brought with them Roberta’s Pizza, a hip spot in Brooklyn surrounded by shipping containers that specializes in modern Neapolitan pies. There are a few more N.Y. imports with Pita Yeero and Plant Junkie. They’re accompanied by notable local vendors such as Isla Pilipina, Happy Lobster, and Edzo’s Burger Shop. A bar is operated by Footman Hospitality, the company behind Bangers & Lace, Sparrow, and Little Victories. Ownership is also touting online ordering where customers can order from multiple vendors at once.
This is Chicago’s first food hall to open in 2021, and ownership is trying to create a safe space, and that starts with proper ventilation. Each of the 12 vendors have stalls equipped with ventilation hoods, as cooking happens behind each counter, not at some hidden away central kitchen like other food halls. That gives Urbanspace an advantage, but the installation posed a challenge to the contractors at Level Construction. It’s hard to achieve the needed airflow while downtown in a crowd of skyscrapers. They turned to a special air filtration system, which is the size of a small room. Level says it’s the first such system in Chicago, one that “scrubs all the grease from the multiple restaurant exhausts and cleans it before releasing it back into the environment.”
Additionally, crews added an unplanned mezzanine level with seating to allow for more social distancing for diners. Other interesting tidbits include the use of eco-friendly materials; one of the front booths has finishes made from repurposed chopsticks. Also, look for artwork and murals inside from local artists.
The food hall replaces a Walgreens drugstore. Urbanspace also has plans for a 14,000-square-foot food hall inside Willis Tower. That location should open in winter 2022.
Urbanspace Washington, 15 W. Washington, open 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays; 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.