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O'Hare terminal getting up to speed

CHICAGO — For years, the dining options beyond security in O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 5, for international travel, were so limited that travelers couldn't buy a cup of coffee. Next year, however, those heading to all corners of the world via Chicago will be able to eat food prepared by some of the city's most recognizable names, buy pricey jewelry and get a massage.

City officials offered details about the $26.2 million upgrade to Terminal 5 at the nation's second-busiest airport. The upgrade is expected to be finished by fall 2013.

Rosemarie Andolino, head of the Chicago Department of Aviation, said the improvements are both a bid to stimulate more international traffic for the city and to "start a customer's journey in a better environment."

For two decades, Terminal 5 has had seven restaurants and a common dining area outside security but none within, meaning travelers laying over in Chicago would need to leave security for options that include fast-food hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. Those leaving from Chicago would need to take food through security.

"That truly was unacceptable," Andolino said. "This is long overdue."

The remodeled Terminal 5 will feature eight upscale fast-food options beyond a remodeled security checkpoint, including a third O'Hare location of Rick Bayless' Tortas Frontera and several concepts from the Lettuce Entertain You chain, including Big Bowl, Hub 51, Wow Bao and a new initiative called Urban Olive, which specializes in Mediterranean-style food.

There also will be 11 retail shops (including Bulgari and Michael Kors) and a spa.

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