Chicago’s Midway International Airport (MDW) has reopened its Central Market concessions area, marking the completion of the historic Midway Modernization Program (MMP), the most comprehensive investment in Midway’s facilities in more than two decades.
The revamped Central Market, located at the intersection of Concourses A and B, is home to a mix of new and existing brands with diverse ownership teams. “I am proud of Midway’s long track record of investing in diverse local businesses, with the highest Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) participation rate in the nation,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said at the opening ceremony Wednesday. “This ribbon-cutting completes our ambitious Midway Modernization Program and underscores Mayor Johnson’s ongoing commitment to supporting our diverse team of airport concessionaires at both airports, which represent a key pillar of Chicago’s economy.”
Midway’s concessions redevelopment was the final major phase of the $400 million MMP, which launched in 2015. The airport now boasts more than 45 new and local brands. The expansion increased Midway’s total concessions area from 40,000 square feet to more than 70,000 square feet.
The airport’s concessions developer, Midway Partnership, managed MDW’s extensive concessions overhaul. The firm’s contract with the CDA will be extended as part of a broader airport concessions ordinance that also extended some relief measures first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to help support local businesses hit hard by the historic disruption of air travel. That ordinance was recently passed by the Chicago City Council with the support of Mayor Johnson and the Committee on Aviation, the CDA said.
Sammy Patel, CEO of Midway Partnership, said the group is “thrilled to celebrate the opening of the centerpiece of the new guest experience” at MDW.
“This milestone almost completes the transformation of the airport’s eating and shopping experience with a private investment of over $75 million,” Patel said. “The Central Market features a thoughtfully curated mix of local and national retail brands, and several local Chicago favorites.”
SSP America opened a range of restaurants and bars in the Central Market, a collection comprised primarily of local brands, building on its presence in the airport that began in 2017. In total, SSP America’s joint venture partners, subtenants and hundreds of team members now operate more than 30 restaurants in total. The percentage of Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBE) involved with the project makes the operation an industry leading program with total percentage of ACDBE participation at almost 60%.
“The transformation of MDW led by CDA and Midway Partnership is truly remarkable—from the improved infrastructure around the airport, TSA facilities, and the redevelopment of the concessions program, MDW is now a world-class airport which offers a tremendous experience for travelers,” said Bob Stanton, senior vice president of business development. “These openings represent the final phase of our development efforts. It’s truly a unique effort given the extraordinary level of ACDBE participation and representation from the local restaurant community. This collection of brands rounds out our MDW portfolio of restaurants, and we’re grateful for the participation of all our restaurant partners including those we’ve been operating with for a number of years.”
The newly opened restaurants are:
- White Sox Bar & Grill: Brings the hometown Sox experience to Midway travelers with a unique ballpark-inspired menu and dining experience. The restaurant features an abundance of memorabilia, décor and unique design elements, all paying homage to Chicago’s beloved World Series winning baseball team the White Sox.
- Reilly’s Daughter: Reilly’s Daughter is a familiar name to locals and now has two spots at MDW. Travelers will enjoy friendly neighborhood fare throughout the day.
- America’s Dog & Burger: With a menu based on a cross-country road trip, the menu features hot dogs from across the U.S. and is considered an iconic Chicago food gem.
- Connie’s Pizza: A Chicago favorite since 1963 and pizza pioneer, Connie’s Pizza is a go-to restaurant for those who crave the city’s classic deep-dish pizza.
- Big Bowl: Offers authentic, wok-tossed Chinese bowls using the highest quality ingredients with options including Orange Chicken, Beef & Broccoli and additions such as potstickers or egg rolls.
- M Burger: A local Chicago handmade burger joint sure to satisfy passenger cravings and serving up burgers made with freshly ground, all-natural midwestern Black Angus beef, Kennebec fries, Martin’s Potato Buns and house-made sauces.
- Tall Boy Taco’s: From Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood comes locally made tortillas in a quick, casual, and funky environment. The menu includes fan-favorite tacos, quesadillas and salads along with refreshing agua fresca.
- Beechers Handmade Cheese: Offers travelers a menu rich with critically acclaimed specialty cheeses including made-to-order grilled sandwiches, hot soups such as the Tomato Flagship, and of course, the Oprah-endorsed “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese.
- Dunkin: Midway runs on Dunkin’ throughout the day with its famous coffee, donuts, pastries, sandwiches and more.
On the retail side, Hudson (part of Avolta) opened six new locations at MDW.
“We are excited to celebrate our new openings at Chicago Midway International Airport, including our largest Evolve by Hudson store yet,” said Brian Quinn, Avolta’s North America head of retail operations. “Our new stores present a tremendous opportunity for us to showcase the power of our global brand portfolio and how we’re committed to continuously providing the best shopping experiences for our travelers and partners.”
The retail locations include:
- Hudson: A quintessential one-stop shop for all travel needs, offering books, magazines, snacks and beverages, travel and convenience necessities, local souvenirs, electronics, and more.
- Southside News: A locally-inspired travel convenience store carrying items such as books, local souvenirs, travel and convenience necessities, electronics, and more.
- Evolve by Hudson: Evolve by Hudson is a one-stop-shop specifically tailored to the local market. At MDW, travelers will find shop-in-shops from Briggs & Riley, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Happy Socks, LAMY, Sunglass Hut, and Rituals Cosmetics, as well as local brands like Fannie May and Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Self-checkout and mobile POS are also available for quick checkout.
- Jo Malone / M∙A∙C Cosmetics – This combination beauty store brings together Jo Malone, a British fragrance and lifestyle brand, with M∙A∙C Cosmetics.
- The Atrium –The Atrium is a shop destination for global and local brands, gift-giving ideas, and personal indulgence. Specialty retail brands featured in MDW include Brookstone, Caran d’Ache, Happy Socks, Herschel Supply Co., LAMY, Rituals Cosmetics, Sugarfina, This Works, Sunglass Hut, and Thule, as well as a unique mix of local souvenirs, apparel, gifts, and chocolates. Self-checkout and mobile POS are available for quick checkout.
- TUMI– TUMI offers business, travel, and performance luxury essentials designed to upgrade, uncomplicate, and beautify all aspects of life on the move.
Additional development is planned by CDA and Midway Partnerships in 2024, including buildouts for several additional retail and food and beverage locations. Midway is also on track to open the airport’s first
lounge, The Club MDW, in the Central Market next fall.