by Tom Isler | December 01, 2007

The Overlook CaféWhen officials at McCormick Place in Chicago were designing the new West Building, which opened in August, one of the main objectives was to improve the center’s food service, says David Causton, general manager of the facility.

That imperative resulted in the Overlook Cafe, a 600-seat elevated food court at the rear of the main exhibit hall, positioned to minimize the distance between the kitchen and the customer and to help drive trade-show foot traffic to the back of the hall. There’s also a 400-seat food court on the floor below the exhibit hall, and an adjacent 200-plus-seat, sit-down restaurant, above, that features high-end seasonal buffets and drinks.

The additions are part of a larger F&B transformation at the center. Effective Sept. 1, a new group, led by Levy Restaurants and Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants Co., took over the food-service contract. The center also is mulling a free-standing public market similar to Boston’s Faneuil Hall, but Causton says a more immediate priority is to expand the Hyatt hotel.