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Goose Island gets three-year renewal at Millennium Park

A three-year renewal of a concessions contract for Pritzker Pavilion was advanced by a City Council committee on Monday. | File Photo

Concertgoers and film watchers at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion can keep buying food, beer and wine from Chicago’s own Goose Island Brewery, one of the Midwest’s most successful breweries, thanks to a three-year concession agreement advanced Monday.

“Where’s the tasting? I want to make sure this is an informed vote,” joked Ald. Joe Moore (49th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation.

Without a single sip or taste, committee members signed off on the three-year extension, to the cheers of local aldermen who consider Goose Island to be a local success story worthy of Chicago’s showcase park.

Terms of the new agreement are much the same as the old one. Chicago taxpayers will get a minimum annual payment of $90,000 and 15 percent of all Goose Island revenue exceeding $400,000. Annual sales have ranged between $500,000 and $600,000, depending on Chicago’s fickle weather.

Goose Island Brewery was founded in Chicago in 1988 and now prides itself on producing what it calls some of the nation’s “most popular and award-winning beers.”

Goose Island Brewery founder and patriarch John Hall (left] talks to David McDermott, first-deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, after a City Council Committee agreed to extend Goose Island’s food and beverage concession agreement at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion for three more years. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

The company’s craft-style beers, including 312 and Green Line, have claimed prizes at the World Beer Championships, the World Beer Cup, the World Expo of Beer and the Great American Beer Festival, according to its website.

At the Pritzker Pavilion, Goose Island charges $6 for a beer, $7 for wine and between $7 and $10 for a menu of food that includes gorditas on pita bread, vegetarian Tempe Reuben sandwiches on rye and old-fashioned hot dogs.

Goose Island Brewery founder John Hall said he’s thrilled about staying on at a venue that has fast become one of Chicago’s most unique and enduring tourist attractions. The renewal followed a whole new request-for-proposals.

“Millennium Park is kind of the centerpiece of Chicago, and Goose Island has been known as associated with Chicago. So we’re very pleased to be part of it,” Hall said.

“When we originally started, there were some restrictions [on shows] that we couldn’t participate in because of other sponsorships associated with shows. . . . We’re continuing to grow and do a better job with it. And with Maggie Daley Park that is bringing more people in, there’s just gonna be more people exposed to Millennium Park and, obviously, Goose Island.”

David McDermott, first deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, said 10 companies “pulled the bid” for the Millennium Park concession, but Goose Island came out the winner.

The company will provide food and beverage service for roughly 85 Millennium Park events ranging from Gospel Fest, Jazz Fest and a Downtown Sound Series on Monday and Thursday nights, to a film series each Tuesday.

“Goose Island is a fantastic success story for Chicago. As you look around Chicago, you see the culinary and beverage industry booming, and Goose Island was certainly at the forefront of that,” McDermott said.

Prior to the final vote, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), proudly proclaimed the Halls as her Lincoln Park constituents.

“We’re so proud that this was one of the very first beers [to put] Chicago back on the beer map. . . . It’s been a long time already. . . . We’re so proud of the contribution that the Halls and Goose Island are making to Chicago. [They’ve] really made us a beer magnet,” Smith said.

Not to be outdone, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) said the Goose Island Brewery manufacturing facility is located in his ward, complete with its own tap room.

“We share in this glory,” Burnett said.

The alderman noted that the Hall family is “one of the largest philanthropists in Chicago. . . . Every not-for-profit in Chicago, these guys contribute to and help them with their festivals.”

He added, “It’s a great organization. It’s only fitting to continue to allow this company to get the exposure to continue to grow. This not only helps us to have a good vendor. It also helps us help an organization . . . continue to grow, continue to hire people from the city of Chicago.”