City Winery, Tiny Hatt, O'Brien's rake in $1 million+ on Riverwalk
Loop North News

Chicago Riverwalk

(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.

Photo by Steven Dahlman (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 Lillie’s 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.

Vendor 2016 Gross Revenue 2015 Gross Revenue % Change
City Winery $3,036,851 $1,529,866 99%
Tiny Hatt $1,243,418 (New)
O’Brien’s Riverwalk Café $1,220,574 $1,084,734 13%
Island Party Hut $910,484 $458,156 99%
Urban Kayaks $723,002 $627,575 15%
Chicago’s First Lady Cruises /
Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline
$472,960 $260,654 81%
Cyrano’s Café on the Riverwalk $471,094 $340,874 38%
Downtown Docks /
Frost Gelato
$250,088 $37,820 561%
Wheel Fun Rentals $141,818 $89,911 58%
Lillie’s Park Grill & Café $22,386 (New)
Chicago Water Taxi $8,523 (N/A)

The revenue figures are detailed in a Request for Proposals from the city’s 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.”

 Related story: City hopes longer contracts will encourage vendors to build up Riverwalk

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 21-Apr-17 3:44 PM

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