Following the success of the Riverwalk’s inaugural 2015 season, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an exciting new concession lineup for the 2016 season, featuring returning favorites as well as new additions.
“By investing in neighborhood assets like the Riverwalk, four new boathouses, a pedestrian bridge in Albany Park and a new rails to trails project in Pilsen and Little Village, we are building on Daniel Burnham’s vision and are remaking the Chicago River into a multi-use resource for the City and its residents while promoting economic growth,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Whether for recreation, entertainment or the pure pleasure of sitting outside and enjoying the waterfront, the Riverwalk is opening up more of the City for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Last summer, huge crowds visited the Riverwalk and vendors were also successful. On high volume days, some Riverwalk restaurants reported 45 minute waits for tables and many of the paddling excursions and bike tours were sold to capacity. Gross revenue generated by Riverwalk vendors was more than $4.5 million in 2015, nearly four times the gross revenue generated by Riverwalk vendors in 2014, before Phase 2 of the Riverwalk was completed. As a direct result of the positive reaction by Chicago’s residents and visitors throughout the summer, the City received a large number of highly competitive proposals for the 2016 season.
Returning vendors include Urban Kayaks; Island Party Hut; Wheel Fun Rentals; Cyrano’s Café and Wine Bar; Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline; O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café; City Winery; Downtown Docks; and Chicago Water Taxi. New vendors include Tiny Hatt, Lillies and Dulce in Horto, the Riverwalk’s first ever mobile food cart.
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 and will be open by the fall of 2016. The completed portion between LaSalle and Lake Shore Drive will have a wide variety of food, beverage and recreational opportunities to enjoy a natural amenity surrounded by an urban canyon of great architecture.
Construction of Phase 2 and 3 of the Riverwalk was funded by a low interest loan from the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program; revenues generated from concessions and tour boats are pledged toward repayment of that loan.
The following is a list of confirmed 2016 Chicago Riverwalk listed by location and set to open in the coming weeks. The vendors will officially operate on the Chicago Riverwalk from May 30- November 1, 2016, though some vendors have already opened for the season.
LOCATION: Lakeshore Drive to Michigan Avenue
Returning to the Riverwalk, Urban Kayaks will offer kayak rental and guided tours.
435 East Riverwalk South
Island Party Hut
Returning to the Riverwalk, Island Party Hut will offer island themed food and beverage as well as charter boat rentals and live music and new this year they will offer an option for recreational boat owners to dock.
355 East Riverwalk South- between Field Drive and Columbus
Wheel Fun Rentals
Returning to the Riverwalk, Wheel Fun Rentals will offer bike rentals for the entire family.
305 East Riverwalk South- immediately east of Columbus
Cyrano's Café & Wine Bar
Returning to the Riverwalk, Cyrano’s Café & Wine Bar will offer French food and wine inspired by Monet’s garden.
233 East Riverwalk South- immediately west of Columbus
Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline
Returning to the Riverwalk, Mercury will offer Charter Boat tours in conjunction with their original Michigan Avenue dock and the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours.
115-305 East Riverwalk South
LOCATION: Wabash Avenue
O'Brien's Riverwalk Café
Returning to the Riverwalk, O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café will over food and beverage and live entertainment on Thursdays.
45 East Riverwalk South- east of the bridge
LOCATION: The Marina- State to Dearborn
Returning to the Riverwalk, City Winery will offer food, drink and live music in the newly constructed section of the Riverwalk.
11 West Riverwalk South- State Street Side
Returning to the Riverwalk, Downtown Docks will offer transient docking for motorized recreational boats, allowing them access to the amenities on the Riverwalk. New this year is the option to charter an electric boat to cruise the Chicago River offering gelato.
27 West Riverwalk South- Dearborn side
LOCATION: The Cove- Dearborn to Clark
New to the Riverwalk, Tiny Hatt, a partnership between Tiny Lounge and Big Hatt Gourmet, will offer food, drink and live music in the section of the Riverwalk that gently slopes down toward the Chicago River.
55 West Riverwalk South- Dearborn side
Returning to the Riverwalk, Urban Kayaks will offer a kayaking outpost to allow paddlers a place to escape the busy downtown river and purchase supplies.
67 West Riverwalk South- Clark Street side
New to the Riverwalk, Lillies will offer food, including grab and go options to enjoy a meal on the rock like benches in the Cove or at the neighboring River Theater.
71 W. Riverwalk South- Clark Street side
LOCATION: The River Theater - Clark and LaSalle
Returning to the Riverwalk, Chicago Water Taxi will offer water taxi service throughout the summer.
105 West Riverwalk South
Dulce in Horto
New to the Riverwalk, Dulce in Horto will be the first dessert only vendor, operating from a mobile food cart throughout the Riverwalk. Dulce in Horto will offer a variety of cupcakes, cookies and brownies.