(Above) Customers and musicians at City Winery, seen from State Street Bridge.
21-Apr-17 Beer, wine, kayaks it all adds up. Every day during its season last year, the Chicago Riverwalk took in roughly $40,000. Between late April and late November, gross revenue from eleven vendors totaled $8,501,199, according to the City of Chicago. It was an 85 percent increase from 2015, when the Riverwalk earned a mere $4.5 million.
The top-grossing vendor, for the second year, was City Winery, taking in $3,036,851, almost double what the bar/restaurant made in 2015 and that is not even the best improvement. Downtown Docks went from first-year revenue of $37,820 to second-year revenue of $250,088, more than a five-fold increase.
||(Left) Riverwalk location of Tiny Hatt, west of Dearborn Street.
In addition to a license fee, the city gets a percentage of sales, the exact amount negotiated with each vendor. The money is used to pay back the federal loan that extended the Riverwalk west of State Street. The city collected $260,659 in license fees last year, ranging from $5,002 from Lillies Park Grill & Café, which started in July, to $56,005 from City Winery.
Gone were Bike Chicago, Flanders Beer & Fries, The Hideout, and Wander Bikes, which collectively made $583,964. Taking over Flanders space, newcomer Tiny Hatt leaped ahead of nine other vendors with 2016 revenue of $1,243,418.
||2016 Gross Revenue
||2015 Gross Revenue
|OBriens Riverwalk Café
|Island Party Hut
|Chicagos First Lady Cruises /
Mercury, Chicagos Skyline Cruiseline
|Cyranos Café on the Riverwalk
|Downtown Docks /
|Wheel Fun Rentals
|Lillies Park Grill & Café
|Chicago Water Taxi
The revenue figures are detailed in a Request for Proposals from the citys Department of Fleet and Facility Management given to prospective operators of concessions on the Riverwalk. Proposals were due on March 9 and the city says it is now determining a short list of vendors to interview.
The city is offering three-year and sometimes ten-year contracts for 13 spaces along the Riverwalk, including the old Wander Bikes location toward the south end, space below Wabash Avenue where The Hideout was located, and new spaces between LaSalle and Franklin Streets. Vendors were asked to propose as many as three locations, with the city free to suggest an alternate location.
Once chosen, vendors are responsible for design and construction costs.
The City has no funding available for any site improvements for contracts awarded as a result of this RFP, reads the document. All proposals must be able to finance the design and construction of their location with $0 contribution from the City.