Lettuce Entertain You reveals plans for two restaurants at St. Regis Chicago

By Louisa Chu | Chicago Tribune

The biggest restaurant group in Chicago just revealed the chefs and concepts it will open next year in one of the newest skyscrapers in the city.

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will open a Japanese restaurant and a Tuscan steakhouse at the St. Regis Chicago in the Lakeshore East neighborhood.

The curving glass tower, designed by world-renowned architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang, stands as the third-tallest building in the city, and the tallest in the world designed by a woman.

Hisanobu Osaka, a Lettuce Entertain You chef formerly at Japonais by Morimoto and Intro Chicago, is expected to unveil a Japanese restaurant first in spring 2023.

Evan Funke, the critically acclaimed Los Angeles chef and restaurateur behind Felix and Mother Wolf, will then debut an Italian project, his first collaboration with the restaurant group.

The restaurants will be unlike any other existing LEYE concepts.

“These will be two unique concepts,” said Scott Barton, executive partner with Lettuce Entertain You, adding they haven’t solidified names just yet. “Right now, we’re in the development stage.”

Barton said the all-day Japanese restaurant will have a sushi program and hot food as well.

Meanwhile, Funke may perhaps be best known for his handmade pastas.

“I’m incredibly excited about this project with Lettuce Entertain You at the St. Regis,” said the chef. “It is a privilege to be working with two champions of hospitality in the great city of Chicago.”

Expectations have soared with the $1 billion development. The building opened in 2020 with 393 condominiums, The Residences at The St. Regis Chicago. A four-bedroom condo on the 71st floor recently sold for more than $20 million, one of the highest recorded sale prices of any home in the history of Chicago.

The St. Regis Chicago Hotel is expected to open 192 rooms on the first 12 floors of the 101-story building March 20, according to its website. The historic hotel brand was founded in New York City in 1904.

“The St. Regis will be an incredible addition to downtown Chicago and we are excited that Lettuce will be a part of the opening of the brand’s first Midwest location,” said R.J. Melman, president of Lettuce Entertain You in a release. His father, Rich Melman, cofounded the family-owned restaurant group in 1971, celebrating its 50th anniversary last year.

The Alinea Group had previously planned to operate restaurants and bar-lounge spaces on the second and 11th floors of the hotel, but canceled last December.

Magellan Development Group announced in May that Lettuce Entertain You would create the culinary experiences at the hotel it is developing instead. The space will feature an outdoor terrace, a lounge overlooking the Chicago River and private dining rooms.

“Lettuce Entertain You knows how to deliver the exceptional luxury dining experiences and compelling cuisine that is expected by The St. Regis Chicago guests, visitors and residents,” said J.R. Berger, managing principal at Magellan.