2019 Preview: 10 Most Anticipated Chicago Venues for Meetings and Events

The hotels, conference spaces, restaurants, cultural spaces, slated to open in Chicago for events and entertaining this year.

By Melissa Maynard January 7, 2019, 7:30 AM EST

Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks

Looking for a new venue for your next event? Here are the most anticipated Chicago restaurants, corporate event venues, hotels, conference centers, and party rooms slated to open in 2018. These new and renovated Chicago venues will accommodate groups large or small for private and corporate events, conferences, meetings, weddings, business dinners, teambuilding activities, cocktail parties, and more.

1. The London-based Hoxton hotel brand will set down roots in the trendy Fulton Market District this spring with the unveiling of the Hoxton, Chicago. The 11-story property will feature 182 rooms designed by Ennismore Design Studio, ground-floor retail, and a rooftop terrace with a pool. The mezzanine level meeting and event space, known as the Apartment, will offer five meeting rooms and event spaces that vary in size and can accommodate pop-ups, private dining, and launch parties. These rooms are surrounded by a communal pantry kitchen equipped with a Smeg fridge, coffee machine, and daily pastries. The Boka Restaurant Group will be opening a restaurant, bar, and rooftop bar within the hotel. The rooftop restaurant called Cabra (Spanish for “goat”) will be led by chef Stephanie Izard and feature Peruvian cuisine, a welcome addition to her other restaurants that include Girl and the Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Duck Duck Goat.

2. Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks will open the world’s largest Reserve Roastery on Michigan Avenue, taking over the four-story, 43,000-square-foot former Crate & Barrel that called the location home for 27 years. The massive store will feature “a fully sensorial coffee environment” with plenty of interactive experiences that include a behind-the-scenes look at roasting, a working bakery with Italian baker Rocco Princi, and a rooftop deck. In addition to Chicago, other Roastery locations are in Seattle, the company’s hometown, as well as New York, Shanghai, Milan, and Tokyo, which also opens in 2019.

3. After several delays with construction previously stalling the project, Nobu Hotel Chicago is on track and expected to debut in 2019. Robert De Niro and partners chef Nobu Matsuhisa and film producer and entrepreneur Meir Teper are launching the highly anticipated 93-room hotel. Guests can expect spacious rooms measuring an average of 400 square feet. There will be a multi-use suite covering 3,245 square feet that can be used for private and corporate events. The hotel will showcase a trendy rooftop lounge and a 10,000-square-foot street-level Nobu restaurant on Randolph Street’s Restaurant Row.

4. RPM On The Water, a 35,000-square-foot, four-story restaurant and event space, is the largest project on the Chicago River in decades. Set for a summer opening, it will feature a seafood-focused menu. This will be the fourth venture for RPM partners that include Bill and Giuliana Rancic, chef Doug Psaltis, and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ R.J., Jerrod, and Molly Melman, who also run other RPM-branded eateries in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Onsite, there will be another more casual restaurant that is yet to be named, a 100-seat patio, and a private event space that can accommodate 300 guests.

5. Chicago’s Essex Inn, which first opened in 1961, has closed and will reopen this spring after a $240 million restoration as Hotel Essex Chicago, a luxury lifestyle hotel. Led by Oxford Capital Group, the Chicago developers behind LondonHouse, the historic landmark hotel has panoramic views of Grant Park, the Museum Campus, and Lake Michigan. The hotel will expand to 271 rooms from 254, and owners plan to seek a higher star rating as well as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the hotel renovations, a 56-story, 479-unit luxury apartment tower Essex on the Park will unveil next door and connect to the hotel. They will share amenities including a restaurant, bi-level bar dubbed SX, and a fully enclosed, four-story indoor winter garden with an infinity-edge pool that will be available to use year-round.

6. Ocean Prime restaurant will open at Shops at LondonHouse in the spring. A ground-floor entrance will lead to the second-floor restaurant of the luxury 425-room hotel by Oxford Capital Group. The well-known chain from restaurateur Cameron Mitchell has locations in Washington, D.C., Boston, and Beverly Hills. Guests will enjoy lunch and dinner with a variety of seafood, steaks, signature cocktails, and an impressive wine list housed in over 12,350 square feet of space designed by architect Mark Knauer of Knauer Inc. The space will feature floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Chicago River and include two bars. It will be available for private events for as many as 350 guests. For smaller groups, three private dining rooms will seat 24 guests each or used together to seat 72.

7. Galit, a contemporary restaurant with a focus on upscale, modern Israeli fare will open in Lincoln Park in the early spring. The new restaurant will be helmed by chef Zach Engel, the former executive chef of Shaya restaurant in New Orleans and the winner of the 2017 James Beard Foundation Rising Chef award, along with partner and GM Andrés Clavero, who formerly worked for Nico Osteria. The menu will reflect Engel’s Jewish-American background and Clavero’s Cuban-Palestinian heritage featuring items like hummus and pita from a wood-fired oven, Balkan stuffed cabbages served with lamb, and harissa and hand-rolled couscous, beets with black garlic, and tehina. The wine list will focus on Middle Eastern producers, as well as small producers from Sonoma County. At around 4,000 square feet, the restaurant will seat some 110 guests and offers a private dining room that will accommodate around 20 people.

8. Bonhomme Hospitality, the restaurant group behind bohemian hotspots like Beatnik and Beatnik on the River, Cafe Bonhomme, and Fulton Market Kitchen, is opening a new restaurant and wine bar concept in the spring. The owners haven’t divulged many details, and it is yet to be named, but, according to reports, the new venture will be next door to Beatnik’s original location in West Town in the 2,000-square-foot former Byline Bank space at 1600 West Chicago Avenue, and it will be a completely new concept.

9. Le Colonial, the high-end French-Vietnamese restaurant, is moving from its home of 22 years on North Rush Street to a new space at 57 East Oak Street in early winter of 2019. The new, third-floor, 6,200-square-foot space, designed by architect Mark Knauer, will feature a dining room, a bar and lounge, a private room for dining, and an open-air terrace.

10. This spring, Crate and Barrel will be opening its first in-store restaurant at Oakbrook Center mall. The Northbrook, Illinois-based retailer is partnering with Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which oversees Michael Jordan-brand restaurants nationwide, as well as Chicago chef Bill Kim of BellyQ and Urbanbelly. The restaurant will show off the retailer’s products while engaging with customers in an experiential way, featuring two levels with indoor and outdoor dining. The 6,000-square-foot space will seat around 120 guests and offer the ability to host cooking demonstrations and other events.

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