Eater Chicago | Ashok Selvam | September 4, 2019

Chicago restauranteurs talk about economic pressures at the latest Eater live event at the Ace Hotel

Eater Chicago and the Ace Hotel will continue its ongoing restaurant industry discussion series in September, with a new topic: Will Chicago’s restaurant industry survive the financial pressure cooker?

Three panelists from Chicago’s restaurant industry will join Eater Chicago Senior Editor Ashok Selvam who will moderate a conversation on the various fiscal pressures restaurants face, what the public doesn’t see from the dining room, and how restaurants react to survive.

While new restaurants pop up in Chicago every week, an alarmingly high number also shut their doors. Though larger restaurant groups, like Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and One Off Hospitality Group, are more insulated to fiscal challenges compared to their independent brethren, all operators face hurdles including competition, finding ways to properly compensate their workers, and finding real estate at a cost that won’t sink their business. Other aspects include how to pay for employee insurance and a human resource department. There’s also concerns over negative social media posts from consumers.

Join these panelists:

Kevin Boehm, the co-founder of Boka Restaurant Group, one of the most successful hospitality companies in Chicago (and the reigning James Beard Foundation Awards winner for Outstanding Restaurateur). Boka runs several restaurants including Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and GT Fish & Oyster. Boehm worked to bring a Chicago version of the Welcome Conference, a celebration of the hospitality industry, to town.

Lamar Moore, chef/co-owner Swill Inn, a River West pub with a late-night bar underneath. Moore has worked at Currency Exchange Cafe and the Smoke Daddy. He’s wanted to open his own restaurant for quite a while and considered moving out of state after he struggled finding the right opportunity. He’s also involved with a variety of national brands. He’s also cooked for the Chicago Bears football team.

Zoë Schor, chef/owner of Split-Rail, a West Town restaurant the recently shifted gears to go casual and concentrate on fried chicken. Before Split-Rail, Schor worked at Ada Street near Lincoln Park. She plans to soon open a bar underneath her restaurant.

This Eater Chicago x Ace Hotel discussion takes place on Thursday, September 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20, and include one drink ticket. Seating is limited, and it’s best to make reservations ASAP.