Maggie Daley Park Restaurant
Friends of the Parks opposes the restaurant, citing conflict with the Lakefront Protection Ordinance (LPO). The Grant Park Conservancy favors the restaurant, based on positive feedback at public meetings.
Maggie Daley Park, opened in December 2014, is an activity-focused area within Grant Park featuring a three-acre play garden, rock climbing structures, and an ice skating ribbon. The park-within-a-park is bordered by Columbus Drive, Randolph Street, Monroe Street, and Lake Shore Drive. Officials expect the restaurant to open at the south end of the park in spring 2016.
“Many of the benefits that the lakefront provides us are available today because of early Chicagoans who fought to ensure that the lake was available to all citizens,” Friends of the Parks director of policy Melanie L. Moore said.
“Policy #5 of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance states: ‘Maintain and improve the formal character and open water vista of Grant Park with no new aboveground structures permitted.’ The open vista on Monroe Street will be blocked with the proposed glass structure,” according to Moore.
Moore noted the LPO’s stated purpose is “To insure that the Lakefront Parks…are devoted only to public purposes and to insure the integrity of and expand the quantity and quality of the Lakeshore Parks.”
“The rationale of the restaurant is to draw people from Maggie Daley Park to a private restaurant,” Moore added. “While we do support the Park District having concessions available to the general public at this site, the scope of this project far exceeds what was originally presented to our organization.”
“We went out to the public with two well attended meetings,” said O’Neill, noting more than 200 people came to one of the meetings. “We heard nothing but positive feedback and praise for it” [the restaurant], O’Neill added. “The innovative design is airy glass, built around mature existing trees. The sides open for indoor-outdoor dining in the park. It has a green roof—you can walk onto it—and it extends the park to Monroe. It will provide food service for all of Maggie Daley Park, to take food out to picnic in the park. It has lots of bathrooms. It’s a place to go in winter as well.
He added that private funds would pay for the building, with the operation generating revenue for the Chicago Park District. The Park District Board of Commissioners in mid-January approved authorization to enter into a concession agreement with Four Corners Tavern Group to design, build, and operate the restaurant; run a concession kiosk; and cater special events at Maggie Daley Park. Four Corners Tavern Group operates ten establishments, including Schoolyard Tavern, West End Bar, and Ranalli’s.