This week Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is celebrating the completion of a two-year, much-needed, $26 million project to renovate and update International Terminal 5.
Before the terminal upgrade began, just about all of the dining and retail options in T5 were located pre-security, which made it hard for travelers to feel at ease taking advantage of any dining and shopping option before passing through the security checkpoint and heading for their flights.
Now it’s a completely different story:
The Goddess & Grocer, a locally-owned and operated gourmet deli working in partnership with Metropolis Coffee Company, a local, small batch coffee roaster, is now the main pre-security dining venue. On the menu: deli sandwiches, ready-made salads, handmade chocolates, cookies and other desserts that can be eaten there – with friends or family members who have come to the airport to see you off – or packed to take with you on the plane.
There a completely reconfigured TSA checkpoint that’s “more streamlined and easier to get through,” said Karen Pride of the Chicago Department of Aviation and, just beyond that, a 10,000 square-foot, pass-through duty free shop like those that now seem standard in many European airports.
Inside the terminal, travelers will find a wide variety of new restaurants and retail shops, including many Chicago brands. There are also redesigned public spaces and many welcome new amenities.
The airport’s branch of XpresSpa is here offering massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and hot shaves. A wide variety of bath and body care products are also available for purchase and include Chicago-based Abbey Brown Soaps and the Beelove line of lip balm and skin care products, which are made with some of the honey from an apiary on airport property.
The restrooms pre and post-security have all been updated and there is now plenty of lounge-style seating throughout the common areas equipped with power outlets and USB ports for charging devices.
Expanded dining options include a food court, or “dining lounge,” with three quick-serve outlets: Wow Bao (Asian dishes with modern flair), Urban Olive (fresh salads) and R.J. Grunts Burger & Fries, and, for sit-down meals, a branch of the popular downtown Chicago restaurant, Hub 51.
Other food outlets in the terminal now include Big Bowl (potstickers, noodle and stir fry dishes, salads, etc. with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients), Tocco (a wine bar and Italian eatery), a branch of Tortas Frontera by Chicago chef Rick Bayless (popular elsewhere in the airport) and Kofe powered by Intelligentsia (gourmet coffee and tea, light fare).
Shoppers will be able to browse the offerings from Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors, Vosge Haut-Chocolate, I Love Chicago, Swatch, Emporio Armani, Hudson (newsstand and travel essentials) and others.
The new shops, retail outlets and fresh amenities at Chicago’s International Terminal 5 have been gently rolling out during the past two years. But now that the final pieces are in place, there does seem like there’s plenty to celebrate and enjoy.