Dining Dynamics: an analysis of Chicago office buildings and their proximity to local eateries

A common discussion around noon in many offices revolves around where to eat lunch. After multiple years of working in the same office building, lunch starts to feel like Groundhog’s Day as people tend to go to dining options near their place of work. This article is an analysis to determine the number of dining options available within a given distance to any Chicago downtown office building.

There are 1,697 unique dining options within the downtown Chicago commercial office market based on city of Chicago food inspection data gathered from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. These dining options range from white table cloth restaurants to coffee shops and they service the occupants of the 331 office buildings that comprise the Chicago downtown office market. My goals are as follows: 1) to quantify the number of dining options, regardless of the type and quality, within an approximate 1 block radius (175 yards) of all 331 Chicago office buildings. 2) to create a metric that compares the number of dining options for a specific building to the market average.

There is a map near the end of this article which displays the final conclusions in an interactive format, but first is a detailed explanation of the process and the results.

The map below illustrates the 1 block radius (blue circle) around the 200 South Wacker Drive office building.

As shown in the chart the analysis produced an average of 21.50 dining options within a 1 block radius of a given office building.

1 Block Radius
Average Number of Dining Options21.50
Standard Deviation12.99

The chart below outlines the average dining options for the 1 block radius per office submarket (Click here to open a submarket map). The chart is sortable.

SubmarketAverage Number of Dining Options
(1 Block Radius)
Central Loop29.10
East Loop26.70
North Michigan Avenue23.13
River North20.68
River West4.49
West Loop18.61

Based on this analysis, the average Central Loop submarket office building provides for the largest number of dining options in the 1 block radius. A major reason is due to the fact that 92% of the Central Loop office buildings allow for their occupants to reach dining options in all 4 directions without walking through a dining free zone (i.e. Chicago River, Lake Michigan, Highway or Millennium Park). The other submarkets are as follows: River West = 89%, River North = 80%, North Michigan Avenue = 67%, East Loop = 43% and West Loop = 39%.

In order to better understand the context of the building specific data, I compared the total number of dining options for a specific building to the overall average number of dining options for the 1 block radius. I’ll use Willis Tower (233 South Wacker) as an example. The average building has 21.50 dining options within a 1 block radius and Willis Tower has 31 dining options. 31 divided by 21.50 produces 1.44. This means that within a 1 block radius of Willis Tower, there are 1.44 times the number of dining options as compared to the average office building.

The map below is an interactive view of the analysis. Each marker in the map represents a specific office building. You can click on a specific building marker on the map to find the detailed dining option statistics for that building. You can also type an address into the search tool. The buttons at the bottom of the map may be used to change the data set displayed on the map or to only view a specific subset of the data. The link below will open the map in a new window in full screen format.

Click here to view the Chicago Office Buildings – Dining Options Map in a full screen

* The dining option location data used to compile this analysis is based on the latitude and longitude assigned in the food inspection database. It is not based on its actual location within a building. 

The animated map below shows the progression from the office buildings with the most dining options to the office buildings with the least amount of dining locations within a 1 block radius (175 yards).
animated GIF smaller

Scott is a senior director at Cushman & Wakefield. He has been an office tenant representation broker since 2003.