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AFP 2018 Blog

Chicago: An Insider Look

Jun 13, 2018

My name is Eric Ellis and I’m the Vice President of FP&A for the National Restaurant Association. I love excel, finance transformations, and the city of Chicago. I was born and raised in Illinois and have spent most of my time in or around Chicago. I’m so excited that AFP is hosting their conference in my home town this year. I look forward to meeting and sharing all things impacting our craft. Chicago has several options to satisfy the palate of foodies, inspire the intellectually curious, and give adventurers a little action.

My favorite neighborhood hands down is the West Loop.

What used to have a heavy factory footprint, the West Loop is now being replaced by families. Top tech firms, retailers, and restaurants are moving in creating an upscale and trendy vibe. The soul of the community and existing structures give it a neighborhood feel. Depending on the time, it’s about a 15 – 30 minute cab ride from McCormick Place. The West Loop boasts several renowned restaurants such as Girl & the Goat which serves up innovative small plates in an open kitchen concept. Au Cheval is an upscale “diner” and serves up some of the best burgers in the city. If your wine palette goes deeper than “red” or “white”, one of my favorite places is City Winery. They serve up plenty of food, beverages, accompanied by live performances every weekend.

For the tourist / adventurer, I would recommend the Willis Tower. You can take the elevator up 94 floors and take in a 360-view of Chicago and the surrounding areas.  For the brave, you can take on the TILT where you actually tilt outward over 1,000 feet above. There have been several creative selfies taken here so bring your best ideas.

Want to explore, get lost in your curiosity, and stay warm in November?  Then take your pick from the Museum Campus located next to McCormick Place. The Museum Campus is home to Chicago’s most notable museums: Field Museum of Natural History, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium. My kids love seeing the beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium.

If you’re an early riser and an avid runner, Chicago is hosting the annual Hot Chocolate 15k/5k the weekend of the conference. You and a few thousand others can brave the elements and celebrate with hot chocolate at the finish line. 

If you'd rather experience Chicago indoors, you can make the quick trip up Lake Shore Drive to Navy Pier. The newly renovated site has a host of restaurants, movies, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.  No trip to Navy Pier is complete without a visit to Centennial Wheel.  From 200 feet up, the enclosed “Wheel”offers a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline. 

I hope you're looking forward to AFP 2018 as much as I am, and that you will make the most of your time in Chicago by exploring all the sights and scenery the city has to offer.

See you in November!

Eric Ellis
Vice President, FP&A
National Restaurant Association