Foxtrot Market, the Chicago-based chain of trendy convenience stores and cafes that already has 16 locations, aims to continue its meteoric rise across the city. The company has recently raised $100 million from East and West Coast investment firms bringing the total raised to $160 million, and it aims to open 25 more stores over the coming year, according to Crain’s. Among these is a 1,739-square-foot outpost slated to open in the spring inside downtown’s historic Tribune Tower, as well as another inside the Loop’s Willis Tower and a third in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.
Founded in 2014 as a delivery service featuring packaged snacks, beer, and wine, Foxtrot has steadily grown into a well-known local retailer with on-site bars that serve coffee, espresso, and wine along with prepared grab-and-go meals and treats from local companies such as Pretty Cool Ice Cream and You’re A Cookie. Over the summer, a new location at Wicker Park’s six-corner intersection went further, introducing its first cheese and charcuterie bar with meats from Tempesta Market and cheeses from France, Italy, and Spain.
As Foxtrot continues to expand its local empire, it also plans to expand its own branded items like bourbon, wine, and candy, Crain’s reports. It currently features around 100 of its own offerings but aims to add 200 more this year. Though the company is facing the same labor shortage seen in nearly every corner of the hospitality industry, food and drink retailers have an advantage over their restaurant counterparts since they don’t have to navigate Chicago’s vaccine mandate for dine-in patrons.
Ballast Point Brewing ditches Wisconsin for sunny San Diego
Kings & Convicts, a brewery based in north suburban Highwood, announced on Monday that it has officially scrapped its plans to build a 50,000-square-foot production facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, which also would have housed Ballast Point, the much larger San Diego brewery it had bought two years ago in a deal that stunned the craft beer world. Instead, Kings & Convicts will be heading west to join Ballast Point, though it will maintain its Highwood taproom. The Tribune’s Josh Noel has the full story.
Five Loaves Eatery gets a little fundraising help from friend Mabe’s Deli
Five Loaves Eatery, the acclaimed soul food restaurant in Chatham, is still trying to raise enough funds to reopen after it was forced to close four months ago because of unpaid debts, but it’s still well short of its $85,000 goal. This weekend, neighbor Mabe’s Deli is helping out by raffling off a catered meal for six. Each entry is ten dollars, and everyone who has already contributed to the ongoing Five Loaves GoFundMe page will be entered automatically. Entries will be accepted until this Monday, January 17, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, January 19.
Nashville chef Sean Brock collaborates with Farmer’s Fridge
Farmer’s Fridge, the Chicago-based prepared meal service that started off selling salad in vending machines and then expanded to home delivery, has announced a partnership with Sean Brock, the Nashville-based James Beard Award-winning chef and TV star (The Mind of a Chef, Chef’s Table). Brock’s butternut squash farro risotto will be available for delivery starting next Wednesday, January 19. Sales benefit Patchwork, a Nashville nonprofit recently founded by Brock that provides free meals to people in need.
Tribune writers marvel over technical achievements in cheeseburgers and pizza
It’s the season for hibernation and eating carbs, so Tribune co-critics Louisa Chu and Nick Kindelsperger have features this week about cheeseburgers and pizza. First up is Chu, who takes a deep dive into the Juicy Lucy (also spelled Jucy Lucy), a burger in which the molten cheese is embedded in the middle of the beef patty, a culinary achievement she compares to xiao long bao or stuffed pizza. “They’re technical marvels, barely containing their deliciousness within,” she writes. Although the natural home of the Juicy Lucy is Minneapolis, Chu recommends several spots in Chicago where they can be found. Kindelsperger, meanwhile, visits Paper Thin Pizza at Soho House, where husband-and-wife team Drew and Ray Anthony serve pies with the thinnest crust in Chicago, thinner even than a cracker (Kindelsperger measured with a ruler). This, too, is a technical marvel.