October 17, 2015

City Announces Opportunities for the 2016 Riverwalk Concession Program

City Seeking a Mix of Recreational, Cultural, Entertainment, Food, Beverage and Retail Opportunities; Proposals are Due December 2

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Building upon the success of 2015, the City has issued a Notice of Availability (NOA) today for concession operations for the Chicago Riverwalk’s 2016 season. The goal of the NOA is to allow vendors an opportunity to submit proposals which will continue to activate and draw visitors to the Riverwalk. The City envisions a mix of recreational, cultural, entertainment, food and beverage and retail facilities on the Riverwalk, creating a vibrant area to be enjoyed by residents, tourists and visitors alike. Based upon the positive reaction by Chicago’s residents and visitors throughout the summer, the City expects to receive a large number of highly competitive proposals for the 2016 season.

“So many residents and families came together and enjoyed the Riverwalk this season,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We anticipate another season of exciting cultural, entertainment, food, and beverage and retail choices for residents and visitors to relax, have lunch or dinner and enjoy the next great recreational frontier of our great city in 2016.”

This past season, visitors to the Riverwalk were able to enjoy a tiki bar, wine bars, Belgium beer and frites, and recreational options included bike rentals to kayak tours. The late addition of the Hideout midway through the season provided a unique experience for Riverwalk patrons to relax and enjoy live music in an urban canyon of significant architecture. Throughout the summer, huge crowds visited the Riverwalk and on high volume days some Riverwalk restaurants reported 45 minutes waits for tables and many of the paddling excursions and bike tours were sold to capacity.

The City is now seeking vendors to provide a variety of activities, events, and services in 2016. Examples of possible concessions include, but are not limited to: facilities for human-powered boating; bike rentals; other sports rentals; food and beverage; retail, particularly of a cultural or environmental nature; educational facilities; entertainment venues; commercial boats docked along the seawall with food and beverage or associated with a food and beverage provider operating in the land adjacent; or any other type of family-friendly concessions. The Department encourages Respondents to propose other ideas to enhance the use and enjoyment of the Riverwalk and the Chicago River. One year contracts will be awarded with the possibility of a one year extension.

Proposals are due by noon on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 and will be reviewed by an Evaluation Committee. The Evaluation Committee is comprised of city personnel familiar with the Riverwalk. The Evaluation Committee will score each proposal based upon the following criteria:

  • Site Specific Concession Operations Plan
  • Experience and Qualifications
  • Green-Sustainable Plan
  • Compensation to the City of Chicago 
  • Projected Annual Sales
  • Financial Capacity

Vendors interested in participating in the 2016 Season on the Chicago Riverwalk are invited to attend a Pre-Proposal Meeting on November 4, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 1103 in City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street. City representatives will describe the program and answer questions during the pre-proposal meeting. The City also strongly encourages Respondents to visit the Riverwalk prior to attending the Pre-Proposal conference.

Vendors unable to attend the Pre-Proposal Meeting can submit questions to ChicagoRiverwalk@cityofchicago.org with “Notice of Availability Spec# 135525” as the subject. The deadline for questions is 4:00 p.m. on November 6, 2015. Questions will be responded to in an Addendum to the Notice of Availability.

The existing Riverwalk vendors are wrapping up the 2015 Season on Sunday, November 1. The Riverwalk will remain open to the public to use the seating, the pedestrian path and enjoy the views between 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. each day.

In May of 2015, three new blocks of the Riverwalk; the Marina, the Cove and the River Theater, extending the pedestrian trail along the Main Branch of the Chicago River beyond State Street to LaSalle Street. During the 2015 Season, the Riverwalk hosted multiple vendors providing food and beverage and a variety of recreational options.
Much of the Riverwalk is complete; Phase 3, the City’s final phase of construction, will extend the Riverwalk from the west side of LaSalle Street to the north side of Lake Street by the fall of 2016. The Notice of Availability is for the section between LaSalle Street to Lake Shore Drive.