One Eleven Food Hall on 111th Street in the Pullman neighborhood is more of an incubator than a traditional food hall.
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It's near the Pullman Railcar Factory, which President Obama declared a national monument. While restoration of the museum is underway, a joint venture between Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and a company called Calibrate Coaching has turned a formerly vacant plot of land into a small business incubator. It's not a huge space - as food halls go - but it provides a potentially huge boost to a small business.
The One Eleven Food Hall looks like just another fast food option in a South Side strip mall. But once inside, you'll quickly see there are a trio of options.
"It's a small space, we've taken three independent chefs and put them in one space together," said James Gray, of Calibrate Coaching, the company that helped establish the hall.
There's Exquisite to Go, a caterer with a menu of American classics; Majani, which focuses exclusively on vegan soul food, and Laine's Bake Shop, featuring coffee and pastries. The barrier for entry was pretty low.
"Low operating cost, low startup to them to build their brand, build some awareness around their brand, test their product, test the market on a small scale. The hope is they do very, very well here, and we can move them out into their own brick-and-mortar, hopefully right here in Pullman but at least somewhere here in the city of Chicago."
Tiffany Williams wanted to get her sandwich creations out beyond her catering business. So her pulled chicken tinga and her shredded brisket sandwich, crowned with caramelized onions and barbecue sauce just might give her a boost to open elsewhere.
"This is an opportunity for me to expand my business quicker than I would have been able to do on my own," said Williams. "When they came to this idea of an incubator, for us to grow quickly, I jumped right on board."
At Majani, you can get your tacos stuffed with a number of vegan-friendly options, like soft black eyed pea fritters. Cauliflower is battered and fried, then tossed in tangy barbecue sauce, while gyros manage to be filling without the lamb or beef.
And if you do have room after lunch or dinner, try one of Laine's cookies, muffins or bundt cakes. They also sell generous tins of peach cobblers and banana pudding. Williams says after just a few weeks, they feel completely embraced by their new neighbors.
"Neighborhood has been more than welcoming since we got here. We feel part of the community already. I actually wouldn't mind moving to Pullman," said Williams.
One Eleven Food Hall
756 E. 111th St.