The late Charlie Trotter often gets credit for introducing quinoa to Chicago via his eponymous fine dining restaurant. But it can be argued the masses fell in love with it after Protein Bar restaurants started serving it in salads, bowls and wraps. Matt Matros started Protein Bar in 2009 across from the Sears Tower and found out quickly that to pay the rent, he’d have to sell more than just shakes and smoothies. So he went with healthy food, a category which came to be known as “better for you fast casual.” Matros remains a shareholder but has moved on to other projects. The new owners of Protein Bar added “and Kitchen” to the name to better reflect its offerings. CEO Jeff Drake tells WGN’s Steve Alexander how, 13 years after the first location in The Loop, the chain continues to grow — including locations opening soon in Northbrook, the first Illinois location outside downtown Chicago — and in Terminal 5 at O’Hare, the first of what Drake hopes will be many airport locations across the country. Franchising, he says, may start later this year. Also in the audio clip below, Drake talks about downtown’s slow, but steady, recovery from the pandemic as measured by restaurant traffic. (Hint: There’s a reason some business analysts have coined “Minimal Mondays” and “Fuhgettaboutit Fridays.)”