Taste of Chicago 2012: Half the fest, but all the Taste?

June 19, 2012 3:47:39 PM PDT
The first Taste of Chicago was a small event on Michigan Avenue. After years of growing into a giant fest, this year's Taste was cut in half.

Six restaurants participated in Tuesday's Taste of Chicago Preview at Daley Plaza. A hungry lunchtime crowd sampled a few of the restaurants that will participate in the Grant Park food fest, which runs from July 11 to 15.

That's only five days, compared to the usual 10 days the festival takes. That means smaller profits.

"Everything will be cut in half ... the revenue, everything ... We normally do about $300,000 or so. If we can do $100,000 this year I'll be excited," Charlie Robinson of Robinson's #1 Ribs said.

That's a nice profit! But if it rains two out of five days they lose their shirts. Last year the Taste ran ten days and there were 60 restaurants. But the spiraling costs to the city barbequed the budget, and that's why now the Taste's costs have been cut in half. Only 40 restaurants are participating.

Another change- the city is selling $25 tickets for a seat to see Jennifer Hudson and other musicians perform.

"The entertainment is still free but you can if you like purchase tickets to the seats for a more comfortable experience," Mary Slowik, manager, Taste of Chicago, said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he's optimistic about the new, smaller-budgeted Taste of Chicago.

"He was just telling me that the Blues Festival, their business was up 31- perent. So that's a good sign," Mayor Emanuel said.


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