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Protein Bar & Kitchen, the Chicago-based healthy restaurant chain, is planning a massive expansion, with new locations coming to O’Hare International Airport and Northbrook.
First, the company will open a pop-up, grab-and-go-style location just past security in Terminal 5, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. The company’s first airport location will open in February before a permanent site opens in Summer 2023. Protein Bar & Kitchen is also planning to open a new location in Salt Lake City International Airport in the fourth quarter. Currently, the company has 10 locations in Chicago, one in Oak Brook and one in Evanston, and kiosks at Northwestern University and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
“When I joined Protein Bar five years ago, I said, ‘This is something that should be in airports,” CEO Jeff Drake tells Crain’s. “I spent a lot of time traveling and a lot of time in airports and finding something that was delicious and wasn’t trying to kill me was hard.”
Once the airport kiosk is up and running, the company will shift its focus to a new location coming to Northbrook in March 2023. This site will be built to better handle the buying habits consumers developed during the pandemic, according to Drake. In other words, this location will feature a smaller footprint, a dedicated entrance for curbside pickup orders, and designated parking for delivery drivers. With this model, the company plans to expand vastly throughout the country via franchising and will use Northbrook as the prime example.
“We think there’s a big opportunity in the suburbs of Chicago,” Drake said. “Northbrook is our first step in that direction. It will be the prototype we will show folks that want to build a Protein Bar in Charlotte or in Nashville.”