Last updated: 03:30 PM ET, Wed April 15 2015

Sales Skyrocket After O’Hare International Terminal Renovation

Airlines & Airports | Theresa Norton | April 15, 2015

Sales Skyrocket After O’Hare International Terminal Renovation

PHOTO: The $26 million renovation of O’Hare’s international terminal includes a modern new dining hall. (Courtesy of Westfield)

Here’s a surprise (not). One year after O’Hare International Airport unveiled new post-security restaurants and shops in the international terminal, sales are up almost 70 percent since 2011.

From 2011 to 2014, food and beverage sales at Terminal 5 soared by 94 percent, duty-free sales increased by 61 percent, and retail sales grew by 65 percent. Passengers also are spending more to an average of $23.32 in 2014, up more than 50 percent from $15.49 in 2010, according to Westfield, the developer.

And why not? Before the $26 million renovation was unveiled in April 2014, there were virtually no places to eat, drink or shop after clearing security. Terminal 5 first opened in 1993 before 9/11 and the resulting onslaught of security. The TSA lines that were shoehorned in, blocking access to about 95 percent of the terminal’s dining and retail options, which meant no hot dog, burger or beer as you awaited boarding.

Last year, the layout of T5 was reconfigured to allow more efficient TSA checkpoints and — hallelujah! — 24 dining and retail destinations. Many of the new eateries have Chicago heritage, including Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera, the Italian eatery Tocco, the artisanal market Goddess & Grocer, and the coffee roaster Kofe powered by Intelligentsia. Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises operates four locations, including casual eatery Hub 51, Asian restaurants Big Bowl and Wow Bao, and R.J. Grunts Burgers & Fries.

The terminal also now has a 10,000-square-foot duty-free shop by Dufry, which all passengers must pass through after clearing the TSA checkpoint.

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