Where: Valois Restaurant, 1518 E. 53rd St Chicago IL 60615
What: Valois is a counter-service, cash-only luncheonette that serves classic American comfort food (and all-day breakfast service). One of President Obama’s favorite restaurants, Valois provides delicious food, high in quality and quantity, for great prices.
The Valois Restaurant is a Hyde Park third place because it brings different demographics from this neighborhood together, crossing racial, professional, and socioeconomic boundaries. Customers order at the counter in front of the kitchen and witness the entire process of their food being made. As they move through the counter and choose their condiments, toasts, and drinks, their meal is ready when they pay. The omelette, breakfast steak, stack of fluffy pancakes, and eggs and bacon are amongst the Valois staple. The all-day breakfast attracts people from college students hung over from the sins of last night, to a family celebrating Saturday morning brunch, to someone enjoying their food quietly. Even if you come to Valois for a meal by yourself, you would never feel truly alone, but peaceful in the presence of a vibrant community.
There is a sense of comfort and consistency in the taste of food here at Valois. Perhaps it’s the high value of the meal and the great prices; one would never leave Valois un-full and unfulfilled.
1. People connection (how does your third place activate community?)
- Valois breaks the conventional divisions that part communities. Chicago is a highly segregated city to this day; Hyde Park has a clear borderline between the University of Chicago, the professors, and the rest of the working-class town. (Source: Chicago Tribune https://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/recipes/ct-dining-0418-home-plate-valois-20130418-story.html)
- The food brings people together, to enjoy a meal in the same place.
2. Place connection (how does your third place activate the public realm?)
- Located at east end of the center of Hyde Park, it connects the central street in town with the major arterial road that funnels to Lake Shore Drive, the way to downtown.
- President Obama’s favorite restaurant from when he was in Hyde Park– Valois represents a part of his past and identity, while President Obama leaves a legacy to Valois. “President Obama’s Favorites” 6 dishes that satisfy taste buds and soothe the soul.
- There is a Farmer’s Market every Thursday morning next to Valois