Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, the massive new modern food court — the first food hall to debut in Chicago since the pandemic shutdown in March — opened Monday on the Near West Side inside the 106-year-old Cook County Hospital. The hall is part of the hospital’s $1 billion multiphase restoration plan, and a larger push for development in the Illinois Medical District. It’s been vacant for decades.
Dr. Murphy’s is part of the hospital’s $1 billion restoration plan.
Operated by chef and restaurateur Akhtar Nawab’s (Alta Calidad, Otra Vez) management and consulting group Hospitality HQ, Dr. Murphy’s is designed to fill a void for hospital workers and the general public with 11 food stalls, most of which are women- and minority-owned. There’s also a bar. Some participants come with food hall and restaurant experience — Lil’ Delta is an outpost from tamale and burger slinger the Delta in Wicker Park; Lexington Betty Smokehouse’s pit master Dominique Leach (Spiaggia) has an Oak Park restaurant and a stall at One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman. Others, like 23-year-old Taylor Bischof of all-day breakfast spot Brekkie and Bake Shop, are venturing into business ownership for the first time.
“I was shocked to hear that someone was going to be opening a food hall given the current climate, but after learning it was in the medical district, it seemed like a good idea,” says Bischof, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She moved to Chicago from Florida to pursue the opportunity at Dr. Murphy’s.