Some advantages to booking an event at a restaurant include having professional wait staff and access to separate rooms for private functions. “I work directly with the host, staff and management to ensure that the evening is to their exact specifications,” explains Anna Johnson, event director of Italian Village Restaurants, which houses The Village, LaCantina and Vivere – all under one roof at 71 West Monroe Street. “We offer a variety of private or semi-private event spaces to best accommodate any needs. Choosing a restaurant gives you a more personal experience, rather than another venue that may have hundreds or thousands of other guests that they’re also taking care of.”
RJ Melman, managing partner of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants including Paris Club and Studio Paris at 59 West Hubbard Street, also points out that clients may rent the entire space. “Having everything built in – like staffing and the option of food and beverage – is a definite advantage, but people may not know that Paris Club restaurant, which is closed in January for renovations, doesn’t open until 4pm and is available for private events during the day, and Studio Paris isn’t open Sunday through Tuesday and is available for nighttime events.”
Quartino Private Dining Coordinator Julie Jensen personally handles each client to create a truly memorable experience. And something that makes Quartino, located at 626 North State Street, stand apart from hotels is the Italian fare, according to Executive Chef John Coletta. “Locally grown sustainable foods are rarely available in commercial hotel restaurants,” he notes. Plus, Chef Coletta observes that restaurants have taken over in-home dining and corporate boardrooms. “Celebratory and corporate events tend to be significantly more approachable in restaurants,” he says.
Mr. Melman also says it’s often an added draw for people to attend if your event is held at a cool venue. “At Paris Club and Studio Paris, guests work with a blank slate,” he explains. “All events can be customized. Décor is only limited by imagination and budget. We’ve had events that have completely transformed the space. One of the most creative transformations was an engagement party at Studio Paris that literally re-created the Paris garden party scene from the movie Bridesmaids. A lot of people will use the rooftop to hang decorations or change the lighting based on their color scheme.“
At Quartino and Italian Village Restaurants, the décor transports you to another part of the world. “The timeless, casual, authentic Italian décor has been recreated so you feel you’re in any given regional Italian city,” says Chef Coletta of Quartino. “But in the event you’d like to modify the décor, we’re open to discussing this matter. We’ll do almost anything to exceed customers’ expectations.” Ms. Johnson says, “Vivere offers a unique dramatic atmosphere, The Village makes you feel as though you’re in Tuscany, and LaCantina is cozy and intimate.”