The Permanent Market We Get Opens Dec 3

December 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Rob Gardner

We have a permanent indoor market coming for Chicago. The folks behind the market aim high.

It supports Chicago’s position as a Global City since almost all Global Cities enjoy permanent marketplaces.

It satisfies a long held Local Beet demand. The Chicago French Market opens December 3, 2009.

Sebastien Bensidoun showed me around this week.  Sebastien’s father, Rolland Bensidoun has been running markets in Paris since 1953.  Fourteen years ago, they brought a bit of Paris to the Chicago area.  They currently  operates thirteen seasonal markets.   And when I asked Sebastien the question that I asked about five times, “where’d you find these people;” he kept on attributing it to his experiences running these other markets.

I mean if there is something we’ve wanted nearly as much as a permanent indoor market is a European style pomme frites operation.  Sebastien alluded to Holland native Jeroen Hasenbos having some type of background in film, but he would not admit any more as to how we got a Dutch-Belgium fry shack in our  permanent indoor market.  Someone doing Montreal style smoked meats, fancy chocolates, Vietemese soups and sandwiches.  A certain francophile Mayor has been pushing the Bensidoun for ages for this market, and they’ve come up with some interesting vendors.  I think also Sebastien wanted to feel at home with his picks.  As we walked the aisles, he reverted to French, like when he checked in with his crepe guys.

There was not food to taste as we walked those aisles, but I can vouch for some delicious decor.  Abby Brown who has sold handmade soaps at area markets, uses dark wood desks and shelves instead of shopping mall functional.  Pastoral trucked in one of their trademark vintage coolers to give their corner elan.  It does not look like Navy Pier.

I ’m guessing it will smell better than Navy Pier too.  Fresh caramel corn, and stinky cheeses will compete with roasted nuts and smoked meats for the recognized aroma of the market.  I do not know about you, but I look forward to the smelling the market.

Free smells.  That’s Jimmy Johns, right.  A motto that’s led to 690 outlets.  Will a nation that supports 690 Jimmy Johns support one permanent indoor market in Chicago.  Sebastien Bensidoun rattles off why he thinks so.  His is not a gourmet shop he insists.  He says that this is not a place for kids to put their nose to the windows and dream.  The vendors will offer good price points.  More, he points out that customers will have options to choose.  You want organic produce, go to that stall.  Wanna pay less for your fruit, there’s someone else.  You can get your bread Polish style or Jewish style–in fact I hear the challah’s especially good.  You can have meat or you can have the fish.  He offers parking!  There’s all sorts of people living around the area that need a market.  Tourists will come.  In fact, the 100,000 or so commuters that will shuffle past the market are gravy to Sebastien.  People buy at his thirteen other French markets around town.  They will buy here.

Come join me at the grand opening Thursday, December 3.  We will get cake baked by Dimitri Fayard of Vanille Patisserie.  We won’t be able to sample all the vendors.  Many of the thirty inked will be up and running, a few are almost there, and a few slots need time.  We all have ideas and aspirations for a permanent indoor market in Chicago.  The one we get opens this week.

LOCATION: 131 North Clinton, Chicago – Entrance located at 131 North Clinton and inside Metra’s Ogilvie Transportation Center suburban commuter concourse.  HOURS: Monday – Friday 730 am – 730 pm; Saturday 830 am – 6 pm; Closed Sunday.  PHONE: 312.575.0306.  PARKING: 100 cars, reduced rate with validated ticket.



  1. artjackson says:

    CLOSED SUNDAY!!!!????? I want my fries and eat ‘em too!

    Can’t help but comment on the Jimmy John’s phenomenon. What is Jimmy John’s? Fresh bread and sliced meat. That’s how most people I knew liked to eat them (almost 15 years ago when I had one last). My bewilderment lies in the fact that Jimmy John’s has gotten to 690 outlets by fabricating an imitation of the classic French baguette sandwich.

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to source real, fresh baguettes and put sliced meat on those? Obviously not. Weird.

    Can’t wait to get a taste of that “French” simplicity when the market opens.

  2. Robin says:

    Glad to hear there’s parking. I’ll give it a try when the dust settles a bit. Thanks for the info!

  3. Melissa Graham says:

    I’m sorry to miss the opening tomorrow, but I’ll be over at another source for year-round local food: the Downtown Farmstand. Thanks for the report – I definitely look forward to making our inaugural visit.

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