“At least once, if not twice a year, numerous members of my family are in T5 — friends and family coming or going to Ireland,” Clodagh Lawless said. “The location where we’re at in Terminal 5 is basically the 50-yard line. We’re right in the center of things.”
The Dearborn at O’Hare will seat about 125 people and occupy roughly 3,200 square feet. It will have a grab-and-go section, with food and cocktails. The menu at the sit-down part of the restaurant will have some of the same items as the downtown location — the fish and chips are sure to make an appearance, Clodagh Lawless said — but there will be some surprises as well.
The restaurant will be owned and operated by Chicago Hospitality Partners, a joint venture between Master ConcessionAir and John Wober, president of airport concession company Airbrands, according to a news release from the city. Clodagh Lawless said she and her sister plan to spend plenty of time in the O’Hare location, too.
The Dearborn will join a growing slate of downtown Chicago restaurants headed for O’Hare as part of a $1.3 billion revamp of Terminal 5. The terminal, now home to Delta Airlines, is getting 350,000 additional square feet, 10 gates and a modernization of existing space. Chick-fil-A, Protein Bar, Bar Siena and a host of others have either recently opened or are set to open soon.
For several years, the airport has aggressively sought ways to expand O’Hare’s relatively limited retail footprint to increase concession sales, which are an important passenger amenity as well as a key source of revenue that helps reduce the landing fees paid by airlines.
The city is also focusing on diverse restaurant owners and operators. The Dearborn is women-, immigrant- and LGTBQ-owned.
“Bringing local, minority-owned restaurants like The Dearborn to the airport provides a terrific first impression of Chicago for millions of passengers while investing in Chicago’s communities,” Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said in a news release from the city.
O’Hare will mark the second location for The Dearborn. The Lawless sisters began looking for a space for an additional location in 2019 but were derailed by the pandemic. The downtown location has made a comeback, and it is time to expand, Clodaugh Lawless said. She declined to comment on revenue projections for the new location but said it will serve as a great teaser for the downtown spot.
“It’s an appetizer to come join us at the older sister in the Loop,” she said. “It’s a great advertisement for what we’ve achieved.“