Chicago Cut Steakhouse adds a second-floor dining room

The main dining room on the first floor will remain the same, but moving the private dining rooms upstairs means Chicago Cut can double the size of its bar.

“One challenge we’ve had since we opened is that we feel our bar is too small on a busy night,” Flom said. “We need more of that space.”

The bar area will go to 14 tables of seven, Flom said. The restaurant will also add more kitchen space.

On the upper floor, the private dining room will be divided into three rooms, with capacities for 20, 40 and 80 people. Movable walls will allow larger groups to gather. All three rooms will have 16-foot windows and sweeping views of the Chicago River and skyline.

Demand for private dining at the Chicago Cut has skyrocketed since the pandemic, Flom said. The expansion, which will increase the restaurant’s footprint in the building by approximately 50%, helps fill that need.

“The timing seemed right, as well as having a private dinner that was completely private but looking out the window,” Flom said. “It seems like a lot of private dining is in the back of the restaurant or buried in the basement.”

Expanding a restaurant is never without risk, especially as labor and food costs continue to rise amid inflation, said Darren Tristano, chief executive of research and consulting firm Foodservice Results. But now is a great time to add a private dining room. There is still pent-up demand for events that have been canceled during the pandemic and growing interest from companies wanting to bring workers together.

“We are at a stage where I think masks are in the rear view mirror for now, and I think private dining will surely come back with more force in 2023,” he said.

Overall, Chicago Cut has rebounded from pandemic closures and is back to 2019 business levels, Flom said. A month of closure gave him time to play with the menus and do some remodeling. When it reopened, its large riverfront patio, which seats hundreds, allowed it to thrive at a time when many restaurants were suffering. That momentum has fueled higher demand as the three-year anniversary of the COVID shutdowns approaches.

“People have been cooped up at home,” Flom said. “(They) want to go out and see their customers and sit at the table and look them in the eye and try to close the deal.”

Chicago Cut opened its doors in September 2010 and has become a go-to place for business lunches and long dinners with a view. Dinner time also occasionally attracts celebrities.

Flom said the second floor was originally designed for a different restaurant, which was pulled from the project in the midst of the 2009 economic crisis. Chicago Cut was brought in to fill the space, but decided not to take over the second floor and avoid taking a bite out of more than could chew

The renovation is expected to be complete this summer, Flom said.

The Chicago Cut expansion is among other changes underway at the 60-story office tower. California-based real estate investor Irvine, owner of 300 N. LaSalle, is planning a $30 million renovation for the building, including updates to its lobby and other amenities.

Crain’s reported earlier this week that Winston & Strawn, one of the city’s largest law firms, is in advanced talks to lease some 150,000 sf at 300 N. LaSalle, taking over space being vacated by Boston Consulting Group. With BCG and Kirkland & Ellis, another law firm planning to move into the nearby Salesforce Tower in Wolf Point, the building will lose its two largest tenants.