The best-laid plans never panned out for Dr, Murphy’s Food Hall and its 10 vendor stalls. The food hall opened in August 2020, five months after the state suspended indoor dining for the first time during the pandemic. Instead of drawing from staff within the Illinois Medical District and guests at the neighboring Hyatt Hotel, the food hall struggled as COVID overburdened hospitals ERs and travel tanked the hotel industry.
The food hall, 1811 W. Harrison Street (inside the renovated old Cook County Hospital building), closed Thursday. Vendors were never able to build a loyal customer base which left the lineup in flux. Often bars and coffee counters are food hall anchors and the lack of foot traffic during the pandemic prevented that from happening at Dr. Murphy’s.
One of the vendors, Dimo’s Pizza, already had an exit strategy. Dimo’s, which opened at Dr. Murphy’s in 2021, is replacing Boonie Foods at Revival Food Hall in the Loop. Dimo’s, which has locations in Wicker Park and Wrigleyville, is notable for its thin-crust pies with eccentric toppings and a hefty vegan selection. A spokesperson says they’re targeting a January 2 opening at Revival. They’re also expanding the menu with small bites like olives, Japanese peanuts, focaccia, charcuterie, croquettes, and shishitos with blood orange. They’ll also serve salads.
Beyond Dimo’s, it’s unclear what Dr. Murphy’s other vendors, like Jarabe Street Food (which found success in serving breakfast tacos) have planned. The food hall was run by a New York company and touted celebrity chef and Top Chef judge Tom Collichio’s involvement. The food hall was part of a $1 billion renovation for the hospital building. Often, food hall vendors would complain that the Hyatt didn’t do enough to encourage their guests to patronize the food hall. Instead, the hotel has tried to open its own restaurant. Right now, the hotel is without food and beverage onsite and is encouraging guests to patronize Taylor Street and other nearby restaurants.
It’s been a mixed bag for food halls during the pandemic. Revival Food Hall shifted to having more dinner options without the downtown weekday lunch rush. Politan Row, next to McDonald’s headquarters on Randolph Street, claimed it was hibernating for the winter in 2020. The space never reopened. Time Out Market reopened in summer 2021 with a new vendor lineup with more BIPOC chefs. Urbanspace debuted in August 2021 near Daley Center, but in a few months, tenants like Roberta’s Pizza (a New York import) and Isla Pilipina departed. A second Urbanspace is planned for Willis Tower but has been perpetually delayed.