A long-standing desire of the community was met on May 16 when Pullman and Roseland residents joined 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale and three entrepreneurs to celebrate the first food hall to open on Chicago’s South Side, and another step in the renewal of the historic Pullman community.
The celebration focused on the three new restaurants of the One Eleven Food Hall: Laine’s Bake Shop, Exquisite Catering and Events, and Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine.
The Food Hall, located in the 111th Street Gateway Retail Center at 756 East 111th Street, is the latest development to result from a partnership between the City of Chicago and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), a nonprofit community development organization.
“The One Eleven Food Hall is an innovative and exciting way to address the community’s need for convenient, quality dining and snack choices,” said Ciere Boatright, CNI, Vice President, Real Estate and Inclusion. “It will be a place where people can come in, choose from a variety of different food options and socialize.”
Laine’s Bake Shop, Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine and Exquisite Catering and Events will offer everything from breakfast and baked goods to full-course dinners in a casual restaurant setting.
Chefs Tsadakeeyah and Naysa’s Majani restaurant will offer vegan or “soul vegetarian” dining options. This is the restaurant’s second location after the original in South Shore. Rachel Bernier-Green, owner of Laine’s Bake Shop, will offer baked goods, many of which are made from her grandmother’s recipes and are already featured at selected Starbucks and Whole Foods locations. Exquisite Catering and Events will serve food by Tiffany Williams, who has catered for President Obama, Beyonce, and Coldplay, among others. The new Food Hall location will be Exquisite’s first restaurant.
James Gray, a Pullman resident and proprietor of Calibrate Coaching, a hospitality consulting firm that teamed with CNI to help bring the entrepreneurs to the One Eleven Food Hall, will also offer cooking classes, pop-up shops and availability for private event rentals as well as manage the Food Hall. “As a resident of Pullman, I’m excited about having a selection of quality restaurants and convenient dining in my neighborhood because for too long we’ve had to travel far from home to enjoy such a variety,” said Gray.
CNI, the developer, put together the financing for the One Eleven Food Hall from a number of public and private sources.
To help CNI attract the restaurants to the location, CNI Micro Finance Group (CNIMFG), a subsidiary of CNI that provides loans usually unavailable from traditional lenders to growing small businesses, deployed microloans funded by JPMorgan Chase to Exquisite and Majani. The microloans were used by the entrepreneurs to purchase equipment and for working capital that were layered on top of New Markets Tax Credits of $4.5 million from the National Community Investment Fund and U.S. Bank and a $500,000 Tax Increment Financing from the City of Chicago, a combination that also allowed CNI to offer below market rate rents to all three restaurants.
“This opening is the latest example of the revitalization taking place in Pullman and it’s one that will make the neighborhood a destination where more people will be choosing to go to live and work,” said Beale. “I am proud to advocate for tax incentives like New Market Tax Credits and support TIF projects that helped make today’s grand opening possible and bring investments for new developments that strengthen our community and improve people’s lives,” added Beale.
The South Side’s first new food hall is another milestone in the Pullman neighborhood’s renaissance.
Over the last several years $350 million has been invested for new projects. They include the new Pullman Community Center; Ryan Crossings 450,000 square foot industrial park; and a Whole Foods distribution center.
Other projects include construction of a second Gotham Greens greenhouse and new administration building; a new Blue Cross Blue Shield wellness center, and Pullman Park. These projects along with a commercial center anchored by a Walmart Supercenter and more, have created 1,300 new jobs. Violent crime has dropped 34% and population and property values have increased, according to a recent study by the Metropolitan Planning Council. Pullman is one of the fastest growing employment areas in all of Chicago.
Besides serving the Pullman and Roseland communities and the expected 300,000 annual visitors a year to the National Monument site, the One Eleven Food Hall will provide the restauranteurs with opportunities to test new offerings and build their brands as they grow.