Home Chef, an ever-growing meal-kit business was in need of a larger test kitchen. After scouting for the perfect spot to house their endeavors, they settled on something quite iconic—a decommissioned Chicago Post Office straddling the Eisenhower Expressway. Redevelopment turned this abandoned building from 1996 into office space with its stunning Art Deco lobby restored as well as a food hall on the ground level.

The goal was to create a multi-functional kitchen, enabling staff to share workspace, cooking space and sampling opportunities. In addition, this culinary facility would serve as the hub for connecting administration activities including conference rooms, offices and also double as an ideal location for food photography stills or videos.

The construction project demanded quick coordination and rapid revisions, so the design team met regularly as the plans evolved. The design work began in fall of 2018, construction documents were issued in April 2019 and in October 2019 the project wrapped up with a final punchlist issued.

Challenges during design centered on budget and Chicago city code compliance. With resource constraints in place, a smart and cost-effective approach was implemented to ensure the project stayed within budget – work counters shifted from stainless steel materials usually used for foodservice applications to millwork construction found typically in architectural constructions.

To ensure compliance with Chicago city codes, a project goal of avoiding the installation of an additional make-up-air unit was achieved by reorganizing cooking workstations to share low volume exhaust hoods. This creative solution enabled them to maximize their exhaust capacity while staying within the 10k cfm limit.


Opening Date: Fall 2019
Location: Chicago, IL
Equipment Cost: $499,000

Kitchen Size: 3,048 SF
Offices/Workspaces/Conference Room/Photo Studio: 7,417 SF


Full foodservice design for a new test kitchen

“frk has had the good fortune to with Rippe Associates for more than 20 years on many projects together. Our focus is the K-12 market and we have always appreciated the deep knowledge base, attention to detail, and extensive experience the team at Rippe Associate provides for educational design. We have also greatly valued the professional, yet personal approach, their designers take with our clients. When working with Rippe, we are always confident the project will be a success!”

Thomas C. Wollan, AIA, LEED AP

Partner at frk architects + engineers

“When it comes to dietary planning, Rippe is always first on my list when team building. They have a strong understanding of all the issues, are creative problem solvers, and are consistent with their execution.”

Daniel J. Rectenwald, AIA, ACHA, NCARB

Vice President, Principal at HGA

"The development of Elmhurst Hospital’s replacement campus was complex. The Rippe team supported our vision to transform healthcare foodservice. The result was exceptional reviews from our patients and staff, along with a facility that supported efficient operations."

David E. Reeves

Past President of the Association for Healthcare Foodservice (AHF)

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