Restaurants weigh in on shorter Taste

Breaking down the numbers from the annual food festival

July 16, 2012

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The Taste of Chicago may have been cut in half this time around, but some restaurants say they didn't see a dip in their sales. The annual festival brought in around 1.2 million visitors this year, according to numbers from the city's Cultural Affairs and Special Events office.

Wasem Bhimani has been selling Gold Coast Hot Dogs at the Taste for 8 years, but this year, he only had five days instead of the usual 10 to sell their jumbo dogs, Chicago dogs, and polish sausages. The city cut down the festival and added concerts and gourmet chef events to try and save money.

"We were a little skeptical on how the public would react, and if we would get as much crowds as we usually do," Bhimani said.

According to city numbers, Bhimani and his crew served almost as many portions as he did last year.

Rosario Ricobene of Ricobene's, a pizza and sandwich restaurant on the South Side, said they also did well at the festival this year.

"What we would do in 10 days, we managed to accomplish in five. So I think it was better for the restaurants and the city itself," he said.

Ricobene said there was one surprise this year: their famous steak sandwich was outsold by their buffalo wings by almost 700 portions.

Other fun food facts: This year, visitors ate 2,500 ears of corn from the Abbey Pub, 25,000 steak tacos from Carbon and 17,600 slices of Lou Malnati's pizza.

As for the cost of the entire event, Cindy Gatziolis from the Cultural Affairs and Special Events office says that number is still being worked out.

In crime numbers, Chicago Police Department officials say only four arrests were made this year over the five day span.