Taste of Chicago 2012 lost over $1 million

February 20, 2013 3:32:25 PM PST
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called last year's Taste of Chicago a success, despite losing more than $1 million.

Although that amount may be hard for some swallow, some businesses are still holding out hope for Chicago's biggest food festival.

Remember those hot summer days? You can count on some things during Taste of Chicago, but you can't always count on a profit. The city of Chicago lost $1.3 million on last year's food fest.

The city says a weak economy and two rainy days at the end of the festival contributed to the loss. On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emphasized the importance of the Taste of Chicago, even if it loses money.

"You have Taste of Chicago, that is going through a revision and change," Emanuel said. "So is Chicago's image as a culinary capital around the world."

Some vendors said the Taste was actually profitable for their businesses in the new shorter five-day format.

Dan George and his partners weren't sure if the shorter Taste would make sense, so Polka Sausage and Deli dropped out last year for the first time in the festival's history. However, they are considering coming back.

"It's a tough market out there," George said. "As long as we cut back on staffing, I think maybe we can break even, but basically it's name recognition, getting our name out there."

Harry Caray's was also absent last year. The restaurant group's CEO says whether it participates or not, it's good for business.

"Someone would come into the city from like Michigan or wherever," said Grant DePorter. "They stay in a hotel. They're here for a few days. So they go to the Taste and the next day they are at Harry Caray's or they're at Lettuce Entertain You or another restaurant. It brought a lot of people to the city."

The city has not revealed details about the 2013 Taste yet. Restaurant applications are due March 1.