Sophie Bolich

Despite Controversy, Paper Table Still Attracts Vendors

New restaurants are joining food hall after previous vendors shared negative experiences.

By - Aug 23rd, 2023 02:40 pm
Paper Table sign. Photo taken Dec. 30, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Paper Table sign. Photo taken Dec. 30, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

A handful of new concepts are on the way to opening at Paper Table, despite ongoing contention between the food hall, 733-737 N. Milwaukee St., and some of its previous vendors.

Since May, eight business owners have announced plans to join the food hall, with several new restaurants already up and running. Among those operating are Corin’s Crab, Spice N Rice and Street Bites – Indian Fusion.

Corin White, owner of Corin’s Crab, said that business has been good since she opened, a fact that she attributes to her social media savvy and an existing customer base built over the past five years of serving meals from her home kitchen.

While the experience has been positive for White, she understands that hasn’t always been the case for others. “Everybody’s situation is different at Paper Table,” she said.

Starting next month, White plans to introduce two new concepts to her brand: a breakfast restaurant and a juicery.

Additional restaurants including Sweet Party Treatz, serving cookies, cupcakes, candy and juices; Rewind Wednesday, serving tacos, birria ramen and Mexican street foods; No Bayou, a Cajun eatery; Migrants, a farm-to-table Mexican restaurant; and two others, Cudahy’s Pancake House and Amorsito were all recently added to the company’s website. Amorsito, which will offer tacos, empanadas and sweets, marks the revival of a concept that once operated as a stand-alone bar and restaurant at 2936 S. 13th St.

Paper Table also landed its second national chain restaurant, Mochidon. The mochi doughnut and dessert shop is now live across multiple third-party delivery platforms. Like Wingstop, another national chain that rents commercial kitchen space at the food hall, Mochidon does not appear on Paper Table’s website.

The influx of new vendors replaces a wave of concepts that recently departed — an emerging pattern for the food hall that opened in August 2022.

Throughout the past year, more than a dozen concepts — five run by one tenant — have come and gone, with most lasting no more than three months and some never opening at all. Outside of the newest additions, only one, Wingstop, remains in operation today.

Earlier this summer, a number of former tenants came forward to share their negative experiences. Speaking anonymously due to a non-disclosure agreement they signed, the former tenants described unexpected fees and enormous outstanding payments, as well as a lack of communication and collaboration from leadership at the food hall.

That, along with health and safety hazards, technological issues and a lack of marketing forced several restaurateurs out of business, they said.

Several narratives — though conflicting — exist within the food hall. Some tenants, like White, maintain that the experience has been “a blessing.”

“Everything’s been working out in my favor,” she said, though she clarified, “that’s not to say there hasn’t been bumps in the road.”

But others were left with a bad taste in their mouths. “They overpromise and underdeliver,” one former tenant said of the food hall. “It’s been very rough.”

At least four previous tenants remain embroiled in an ongoing battle with food hall leadership over outstanding funds totaling upwards of $20,000. At this point, no public court records indicate that the company has moved to sue its former tenants.

As for the new arrivals, only time will tell. Until then, online ordering is available for all concepts currently operating through the Paper Table website and third-party delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub.

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Categories: Food & Drink

One thought on “Despite Controversy, Paper Table Still Attracts Vendors”

  1. Mdamat says:

    Not sure what personal vendetta the writer has against this place, but this is the first article that is even slightly fair. Three previous articles were essentially the same hit job with absolutely no balance. The truth is that most vendors are people of color who, if not for this arrangement, wouldn’t even have a chance to realize their dream. Restaurants fail at a very high rate- the old adage is 50%. That number is likely even higher with first time entrepreneurs. It’s no different here. As one vendor says in the story – “Everybody’s situation is different at Paper Table,”. Stop with the hit jobs. Leave your personal feelings or experiences or those of family and/or friends out of it. More real journalism.

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