A Greater Chatham Initiative program

FoodLab Chicago 2.0

FoodLab 1.0
Response & Recovery

$2 million in loans and grants, successful pivot to online pick-up and delivery. Established digital presence for 22 cohort members, 10 new websites created (more in “results” tab)


A cohort of working “on” your business


Emergency financing, local banking relationships. SWOT & Strategic planning. Prime cost tracking. Mitigating COVID risks. Building your Team. Adapting business model. Menu engineering. Vision & Mission. Brand building. Growth strategies.

FoodLab 2.0
building long lasting Resiliency

Started in March runs through September 2021 •15 cohort members •10 community partners have been secured – All Pro-Bono •$170,000 of grant funding and $10,000 of loan funding has been secured in Q1 2021 •

4 Track curriculum focused on long term resiliency, wealth and trust building
Kick-off Becoming more “bankable”, including owner (& employee) credit scores

Track I “Know your numbers” Data driven decision making
Active food cost tracking – implementing Quickbooks for data collections and financial analysis

Plate cost – implementing MEEZ Culinary software to drill down into each plate’s profitability

Menu engineering – Menu matrix building to analyze and maximize profitability, including pricing

Don’t leave money on the table, be sure you are maximizing your menu pricing

Track II Best practices in restaurant pivoting and innovation
Continue the digital and other best practices of the 2020 pivot through Podcasts and Discussions

Track III Food Innovation
CSSI Culinary Consultants will lead this focused effort to produce food innovators.

Track IV Multiple Units
Over half of our cohort members are in the process of opening additional restaurants. Operating multiple units requires a whole set of different skills versus operating a single restaurant. Funding, strategy, organizational design, human resources, managerial control, etc.

All the digital tools introduced to the 2.0 cohort are available to the public in the “Restaurant Tools” tab.