“[The location at LaSalle] just gave us a really unique stage to showcase Chicago artisans year-round, because farmers markets aren’t happening a lot in the wintertime. There are a lot of smaller ones [in the summer and fall], but I think things will be different this year,” said Coker.
The Chicago location, located in the heavily trafficked neighborhood of River North when there are normally tourists and office workers, is only at about 10% expected business at the moment due to COVID restrictions and work-from-home jobs. The location in Long Island City is at similar capacity, though it isn’t in one of New York’s more heavily corporate neighborhoods, mainly benefitting from locals.
Coker says projections for the first quarter of 2021 show 20-25% of non-COVID business in these locations and he says they are ready.
“The technology is there to take care of the growth,” he said.
At Market Café 300, Coker expects to use the space as a test lab for future innovations to roll out across the country in both the non-commercial and foodservice spaces. Compass Group is based in Chicago, making it the perfect incubator for the group to move forward according to Coker.
The technology available to Market Café 300 and Foodworks updates every day, almost by-the-minute, allowing for Coker and others to see how each brand is performing on a daily basis and adjust length of stays as necessary.
“No one expects explosives openings anymore. In this day and age, it's about can we sustain for the long haul? And that's what we're focused on.”