by Lauren Mandel, Director of Marketing
Just like private events themselves, each private event space is different. Restaurants with private dining rooms provide a chic canvas — and delicious menu options — for celebratory occasions that guests are sure to remember. But loving a restaurant for date night isn’t enough to guarantee you’ll also love it for a 50th birthday gathering, cocktail party, or rehearsal dinner.
Luckily, Kevin Boehm, co-founder of BOKA Restaurant Group, has a few tips for choosing the perfect Chicago restaurants with private dining rooms for your special soirées. He suggests, “Consider what’s important to you before you start calling or looking at spaces. Are you interested in a high-energy spot? Privacy? A chef-driven experience? Family-style dining?” Read on as he guides you to your perfect private dining spot.
Consider the Cuisine
Whether you love Asian fusion (The Izakaya at Momotaro, Duck Duck Goat), creative American (Dutch and Doc’s, Little Goat Diner), or an elevated steakhouse (GT Prime Steakhouse), delicious food isn’t hard to come by in Chicago. But choosing the right cuisine for your chef-driven party can set the tone for your entire event.
Boehm knows a thing or two about delicious cuisine and says, “A benefit of hosting your private event at a restaurant is the opportunity to collaborate with the on-site staff and chef.” Explore options when it comes to customizing your event menu, and share culinary favorites of the guest (or guests) of honor. Family-style meals, chef- or seasonal-driven menus, and elevated childhood favorites are all special ways to make your event both memorable and delicious.
Choose Your Desired Level of Privacy
Boehm emphasizes the importance of understanding the dynamics of a private event space. Consider the difference between completely private and semi-private when booking your event. If you prefer a completely private party, a dining room with glass walls looking out into the full restaurant may not be your best choice. A patio event space may offer a beautiful outdoor setting, but also expose guests to passersby on the street.
He also says that there really is a restaurant with a private dining space that can suit every party host’s needs. GT Fish & Oyster, a favorite seafood spot in River North, has an intimate and secluded private room in the basement, perfect for a completely private, small-scale event. Somerset in the Gold Coast neighborhood has four different event spaces, all with different layouts and levels of privacy. “It’s important to consider the energy level you’d like. In a space totally separated from the main dining room, you’ll have more privacy but will have to create your own event energy.”
See the Space in Person
Most restaurant websites feature beautiful photos of their private event spaces — but it’s still important to see your desired event space in person. Boehm notes that private dining photos may not convey room size or scale, and they definitely don’t show every angle available. Work with the restaurant manager or host staff to arrange a visit, so you can see each private event space before booking the venue for your event.
Ask About Surprise & Delight
Party guests love to be surprised with the unexpected. When it comes to BOKA Group Restaurants, Boehm made a point to prioritize unexpected elements both in design and infrastructure. Momotaro in Chicago’s West Loop has a private elevator that whisks guests up to its third-floor private event space (that’s been enjoyed by the likes of the Rolling Stones) nestled in the center of BOKA Restaurant Group’s home office. Girl and the Goat, helmed by Top Chef winner, Stephanie Izard, has the Underground Goat, which is part wine cellar, part private dining room and looks, in Boehm’s words, “like a walk-in cooler.”
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