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Thank You, Chicago Restaurants

Sunday, December 16, 2018  
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Thank you, Chicago restaurants.

  • Home to 40+ James Beard Foundation Award Winning Chefs and Restaurants
  • 22 Michelin-Starred Restaurants, 2019
  • 58 Bib Gourmand Restaurants, 2019
  • Best Big City in the U.S., Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, 2018
  • The World’s Most Exciting City, Time Out’s City of Life Index, 2018
  • BRAVO Top Chef Season 15 Winner Joe Flamm (Spiaggia, Cafe Spiaggia), 2018
  • Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef Diana Dávila (Mi Tocaya Antojería), 2018
  • Restaurant City of the Year, Bon Appétit magazine, 2017
  • America’s Best Restaurant City, Condé Nast Traveler, 2017
  • Host of the James Beard Foundation Awards since 2015
  • Host of James Beard Taste America Chicago since 2013

The above list reflects recent accolades – a combination of editorial opinion, careful evaluation and consumer polls – rightfully earned by our restaurant community, solidifying Chicago’s place of prominence on the world culinary stage.

Honors such as these are not bestowed when an industry rests on its laurels. These accolades are impossible if the creative spark fizzles, trends are ignored or if we fail to champion epicurean diversity. The stars wouldn’t amass without operations of all sizes with teams working tirelessly to provide quality dining experiences while supporting their communities. And these achievements aren’t close to possible if not for our industry’s tenacious workforce, a whopping 53 percent of which is comprised of immigrants working in both food service and hotels*.

The 26,086 dining establishments in Illinois, 7300+ of them in Chicago, are vehicles for expressing cultural identities from around the globe. Restaurants are giant contributors to Illinois’ economic engine – fueling 577,000 jobs statewide with anticipated industry growth of 7.5 percent nationally in the next 10 years**. In Chicago, their unique offerings inspire tourism and helped attract 55 million visitors in 2017 alone. They also stimulate the city’s 77 neighborhoods, many of which are flourishing with interesting concepts winning nationwide acclaim.

The honors, and the numbers, don’t lie: Chicago’s restaurants are doing something right.

Every industry should grow, evolve, improve; ours isn’t exempt. But one will be hard-pressed to find a farther-reaching, harder-working group more eager to serve at the pleasure of others.

On the heels of finalizing an agreement to host the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards through 2027, it seems that others would agree: Chicago’s restaurant party, really, has only just begun.

*Data from Chicago Council on Global Affairs
**Data from National Restaurant Association


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