Lunch, faster, at Water Tower Place's Foodease

It's midday on a Friday and the wine bar at Foodease is SRO, the salad bar and buffet lines are swarming and snagging one of the 50 cafe seats has become a competitive sport combining sprinting and hip-checking.

This is the new, 5,000-square-foot, quick-serve restaurant and market by Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., across the mezzanine from the company's Foodlife food court in Water Tower Place.

As the holidays approach, Foodease promises to be the in-spot for grab-and-go lunches to eat at your desk after some whirlwind shopping or a snappy, sit-down meal at one of the 100 additional seats in the mezzanine.

The company's sound instincts are evident: Bright lights, loud, frenetic music and unyielding plastic chairs keep crowds moving; service is fast and efficient, the made-on-site food can reach surprising peaks and there are little bonuses like wine, chocolate or fruit samplings.

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By Laura Bianchi

Crain's

(November 20, 2011)