Illinois Meetings + Events Spring 2020

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BETTER SAFE Experts talk tips and tools in planning for the worst

CUTTING EDGE The pros dish on the latest trends in up-and-coming event tech

M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // S P R I N G 2 0 2 0

SECRET SERVICE SPEAKEASY VENUES OFFER OFFBEAT RETREATS AND STRONG SPIRITS {18}

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© Jai Girard Photography

The art of unboring. Memorable is in the next room. Just north of Chicago, Lake County, Illinois, is home to dozens of unique meeting venues—from mansions and theaters, to vineyards and beaches. Not to mention 60 hotels and three resorts. If you’re looking for wow, we’re here.

© John Borys Photography

VisitLakeCounty.org/meetings

Cuneo Mansion and Gardens

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University of Saint Mary of the Lake

The Tempel Lipizzans

60 Distinct Hotels

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MEETINGS HAPPEN IN CREATIVE SPACES Discover our

MEETINGS ADVANTAGE program

G A L E NA, IL

|

EAGLERIDGE.COM

|

Nestled among the 6800 acres of rolling hills west of Chicago in The Galena Territory, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa combines the great outdoors with unrivaled amenities to deliver a perfect meeting venue. Featuring 15,000 square feet of newly renovated flexible event space, state of the art technology, and stunning views overlooking Lake Galena.

800.892.2269

GET AWAY FROM THE ORDINARY

fonts: Raleigh LtStd Medium Adderville ITC Std. Oxida

Your group’s next event deserves a oneof-a-kind experience. It deserves unique, inspiring meeting spaces, fun-filled afterhours events, and the best in hospitality. Explore everything DeKalb County, Illinois offers for your next event!

DEKALBCOUNTYCVB.COM | 877-335-2521 IL.MEETINGSMAGS.COM

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Spring 2020 ILLINOIS MEETINGS + EVENTS MAGAZINE: IN THIS ISSUE

22 FEATURE

28

What Could Go Wrong? Emergency management experts, local planners and key city officials talk tips, tools and top-of-mind concepts to keep events safe and running smoothly. By Megan Gosch

6 EDITOR’S LETTER 18 VENUE REPORT Rich in history and booze, Chicago’s speakeasies make unique event spaces for intimate gatherings and small events. By Kassidy Tarala 22 TABLESCAPE Bold textures, geometric patterns, fresh florals and a nod to Bauhaus design complete an unexpected, yet sophisticated look. By Megan Gosch

48 PEOPLE PROFILE Rita Dever may just be one of Chicago’s most influential chefs you’ve never heard of. By Megan Gosch

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P H OTO : K E H O E D E S I G N S

24 TREND REPORT For production pros, emerging tech trends and cues from big-league productions help excite, engage and inspire attendees. By Megan Gosch

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P H OTO : K E H O E D E S I G N S

100,000 SQUARE FEET OF DEDICATED OUTDOOR PLAZA SPACE

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Spring

2020 Le Coq, courtesy of THE US GRANT Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego pg 14 36

36

9 ON-THE-SPOT SWAG Glowforge creates meaningful moments at events with 3D laser printers. By Kassidy Tarala

10 TEAM-BUILDING Whether pulling back a bow or hurling a spear, each Takedown Eventure leaves groups with thrilling memories they won’t soon forget. By Megan Ekstrand

44

16 RESTAURANT REC A mythical origin story, the fusion of unexpected ingredients, and event spaces packed with character set BiXi Beer apart. By Megan Gosch 16 NEW VENUE SPOTLIGHT Rockford’s new market venue fosters innovation for gatherings of all types.

36 REGIONAL NEWS What’s happening in the local industry. Compiled by Megan Gosch

46 SNAPSHOTS Photos from Meals on Wheels Chicago’s Celebrity Chef Ball 2019

By Megan Gosch BETTER SAFE Experts talk tips and tools in planning for the worst

CUTTING EDGE The pros dish on the latest trends in up-and-coming event tech

INDUSTRY UPDATE M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // S P R I N G 2 0 2 0

12 BEYOND THE BORDERS At the storied US GRANT Hotel, guests can meet immersed in rich history at the intersection of Old World glamour and modern luxury. By Megan Gosch

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34 INFOGRAPHIC Kimpton’s 2020 Culinary & Cocktails Trend Forecast identifies the F&B trends to watch this year. Research courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

SECRET SERVICE SPEAKEASY VENUES OFFER OFFBEAT RETREATS AND STRONG SPIRITS {18}

ON THE COVER

A Wild-West-meetsFrench-boudoir vibe sets the scene for gatherings at The Backdoor Saloon. Photo by Kyle Flubacker Photography

P H OTO S : K A R DA S P H OTO G R A P H Y; T H E U S G R A N T H OT E L ; N E I L J O H N B U R G E R

MEETING NOTES

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BOOK EVENTS DURING Q1 AND RECEIVE A SIGNING BONUS.

EARN YOUR 2020 BONUS! Book your group event before the end of the year at the Chicago Marriott Naperville and earn extra Marriott Bonvoy TM signing bonus points! Signing bonus for contracts signed before 3.31.20 for meetings held by 12.31.23.

F E AT U R I N G

• 24,000-square-feet of flexible, beautifully appointed meeting space • Convenient Western Chicago suburban location • Free parking • 7,108 and 4,100 sq ft ballrooms with pre-function areas • Two executive boardrooms • Multiple breakout rooms • Full service banquet and catering • 424 guest rooms • Full-service conference service staff

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NAPERVILLE, IL

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Operated by The Janko Group under license from Marriott International, Inc. or one of its affiliates.

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IN

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL

P H OTO S : K A R DA S P H OTO G R A P H Y; T H E U S G R A N T H OT E L ; N E I L J O H N B U R G E R

Grossinger Motors Arena

IL.MEETINGSMAGS.COM

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EDITOR'S LETTER

Force Majeure AS SOMEONE WHO’D MUCH RATHER PREPARE FOR THE “WHAT IFS”—confronting

Megan Gosch, editor CONTACT ME AT MEGAN.GOSCH@TIGEROAK.COM

the potential good, bad and ugly head-on—than craft a cursory Plan B and hope for the best, I was eager to dive into this issue’s contingency-focused feature. After all, the concept of contingency planning for live meetings and events has changed so much in the last decade alone. Planners have adapted with evolving technology and a transformed collective conscious, yet the topic still looms large and abstract, leaving many searching for direction when it comes to best practices and expert intel. After connecting with national emergency and risk management experts as well as experienced local planners like PRA Chicago General Manager Heather Brown, CMP, DMCP—whose diligent planning efforts and industry expertise kept a recent VIP program for nearly 1,200 attendees on course (despite unexpected complications from simultaneous Chicago visits from President Trump and former President Obama, a massive teacher strike, protests, impending weather-related flight delays and a bus driver delayed by local police in order to give a statement about a car accident he’d just witnessed)—it was reassuring to find that successful contingency planning hinges on the work our industry does best: planning, preparation and collaboration. Flip to page 28 for tips, tools and top-of-mind concepts to keep events safe and running smoothly. We’ve also checked in with local event production pros (page 24) for their thoughts on the latest event technology trends, predictions for what’s to come and where to spot the next event tech disruptors. Meet Rita Dever, Lettuce Entertain You’s corporate test kitchen chef extraordinaire, who may just be one of Chicago’s most influential chefs you’ve never heard of (on page 48); find an unexpected take on fresh fringe in this issue’s Tablescape (on page 22); and catch up on the latest in people, hotel and venue news in Regional News (on page 36).

Find, Friend, Follow

Find us online at il.meetingsmags.com, and make sure to “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to stay in the loop between issues. /IL MEE TINGSMAGS

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P H OTO : R AC H E L N A D E AU

Cheers,

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SPRING 2020

il.meetingsmags.com EDITOR

Megan Gosch

MANAGING EDITOR Morgan Halaska Kassidy Tarala CONTRIBUTING WRITER EDITORIAL INTERN ​Megan Ekstrand

ILLINOIS MEETINGS + EVENTS HAS

GONE

DIGITAL!

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Michelle Castady Orlando, DMCP, 360 Destination Group, Chicago • Teri Dasse, DineAmic Group Hospitality Development • Ana Espinoza, Wagstaff Worldwide • Marla Fleishman, Francesca’s Restaurant Group • Sarah Ficek, Heron Agency • Stan Hansen, Sodexo Sports & Leisure • T.J. Johnston, Topgolf Wood Dale • Tina Luppino, TRAVIS Inc. • Malaika Martin Wells, M. Martin Creative Dave Parulo, Meet Chicago Northwest • Gia Skiba, Entertainment Cruises - Chicago • Nicole Zenner, CSEP, LK Events Kacilynn Zimmerman, FFT Chicago DESIGN DIRECTOR ART DIRECTORS

Courtney Nielsen Traci Zellmann, Taylor Kilgore

PRODUCTION DIRECTOR PROJECT COORDINATOR

Dianne Talmage Brittni Dye

CIRCULATION DIRECTOR SUBSCRIPTION MARKETING SPECIALIST

Jeremy Wieland Josh Jaskulka

ACCOUNTS PAYABLE CREDIT MANAGER ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE SPECIALIST WEB ADVERTISING COORDINATOR

Chris Adamietz April McCauley Jared Lawson Angela Beissel

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P H OTO : R AC H E L N A D E AU

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

Meeting Notes TEAM-BUILDING

10

BEYOND THE BORDERS

12

SIGNATURE DRINK

14

NEW VENUE SPOTLIGHT

16

MEETING MAGIC

Glowforge creates meaningful moments with 3D laser printers. LIKE MAGIC, Glowforge can bring your attendees’ digital design dreams to life with its 3D laser printers. From phone stands and luggage tags to key chains and coffee sleeves, Glowforge can print customized souvenirs for each of your attendees to take home after what will be one of the most memorable events they’ve ever experienced. “There are a ton of ways meetings planners can use Glowforge printers at meetings and events,” says Dan Shapiro, CEO and founder. “Glowforge printers on an expo floor are sure to wow attendees and get them engaged at any event. We’ve seen Glowforge printers drive booth traffic, drawing constant streams of people coming to a booth to watch.” Attendees can create their own designs by doodling with a pen, and Glowforge can then engrave their designs on anything from a notebook to a luggage tag.

With materials costing about 25 cents per person, Glowforge uses leather, wood, acrylic and even chocolate to create customized souvenirs in less than five minutes. “Glowforge can print any souvenir you can think up within minutes. This means you can print trophies for the team members who drove the most leads right in front of them. Or you can challenge the team to a team-building activity to see who can come up with the most creative design to print on a Glowforge,” Shapiro says. “You can also quickly commemorate the event on the spot by adding the date and a theme of the meeting onto a keepsake for folks to take home. The possibilities are truly endless.” —Kassidy Tarala

P H OTO : G LOW F O R G E

“Meeting planners can also leverage Glowforge to make a ton of swag, corporate

giveaways and event marketing items right from the office or home ahead of the conference to shave costs and time associated with outsourcing event preparation,” Shapiro adds.

IL.MEETINGSMAGS.COM

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

TEAM-BUILDING»

Takedown Eventures offers a unique alternative for team-building.

ive years ago, co-founder Jason Amato said enough with the predictable golf outings, skyboxes and high-end dinners. With the inception of Takedown Eventures came the mission to get corporate Americans outside with one-of-a-kind experiences. Whether pulling back a bow or hurling spears, each Eventure leaves attendees with thrilling memories they won’t soon forget. “The reality is ‘team-building’ typically has a negative connotation associated with it,” Amato says. In order to have a successful team-building event, he explains a certain level of vulnerability and novelty is crucial. By incorporating equipment such as crossbows,

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slingshots, BB guns and shotguns into safe yet exhilarating activities, groups leave feeling educated, excited and empowered. The company offers three customizable package options led by professional and experienced Takedown guides. The Primitive Eventure, available outdoors or indoors, is the most popular for team-building. This two-hour event allows groups to choose four activities in which attendees will spend about 25 minutes at each station. One of the crowd favorites is the aerial archery station; a challenge using crossbows to launch arrows at disks eight to 10 feet in the air. The Primitive Eventure ends with some friendly competition in the ultimate group

BY MEGAN EKSTR AND

challenge. “It’s so rewarding to see such diverse groups at a level playing field through these unique experiences,” says Amato. Takedown Eventures works with various sportsmen’s clubs, ranches and retreat centers to find the perfect venue in close proximity to groups of all sizes. Although Takedown is rooted in the Chicagoland area, the company and its 30-foot trailer have brought Eventures to recreation spaces, corporate campuses and hotels across the country.

Get Connected TAKEDOWN EVENTURES takedowneventures.com | 630.776.6799

P H O T O S : TA K E D O W N E V E N T U R E S ; T E D DY K E L L E Y

F

TAKE IT OUTSIDE

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Here, golf is a year-round sport.

P H O T O S : TA K E D O W N E V E N T U R E S ; T E D DY K E L L E Y

Get out of the cold and back in the game in The Woodlands, where the only things more welcoming than the weather are our courses. With over 160,000 square feet of stunning meeting spaces, combining the best of business and pleasure has never been more effortless.

Make your event extraordinary at visitthewoodlands.com/warmer

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

BEYOND THE BORDERS»

WHERE PAST MEETS PRESENT

At the storied US GRANT Hotel, guests meet at the intersection of Old World glamour and modern luxury. B Y M E G A N G O S C H

Co ma the and aw

* SHOULD NEWCOMERS happen to miss the stately gentleman greeting guests as they arrive, the gleaming chandeliers, plush lounges and palatial marble promenade waiting just around the corner are sure to clue them

Built in 1910 in honor of former President Ulysses S. Grant, the grandeur of the 270room US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego, has endured for over a century, evolving as equal parts treasured historical landmark, cultural touchstone (housing an on-site cultural center and art gallery) and impressive meeting locale where guests are immersed in the hotel’s rich past while enjoying the comforts of modern luxury.

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From the heritage of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, who originally settled the area nearly 12,000 years ago and now owns THE US GRANT, to the countless notables who have passed through its doors (everyone from Albert Einstein to Steven Spielberg, and 15 U.S. presidents), “the past is still very much alive and part of our present at THE US GRANT,” says General Manager Doug Korn. “There are so many chapters and such a rich

thread that’s woven through the story of this hotel. It’s fascinating to see that thread weave through guests’ everyday experiences and to get to help them discover that next chapter during their stay.” While a recent refresh seamlessly blends the Old World glamour of the hotel’s original belle epoque décor, grand Corinthian columns and art deco features with modern touches, including custom $50 bill-inspired

P H OTO : R E F R E S H P H OTO G R A P H Y

in—this is no ordinary hotel.

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Your Success is our Success.

Contract your event now through March 2020 and receive 15% commission or credit* to your master. Top notch service complete with state-of-the-art meeting rooms, tech savvy amenities and the only resort connected to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Dine in top-ranked restaurants and unwind at Spa Atlantis, the only Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spa in northern Nevada. Book a world-class experience today. *Offer good for newly contracted business only, previously contracted business excluded. Commission or credit will be calculated from contracted room rate. Business must consume by March 31, 2020.

P H OTO : R E F R E S H P H OTO G R A P H Y

PLATINUM CHOICE

Contact the Sales Department at 800.994.5900 or visit us at atlantiscasino.com/ilmeetings to submit an RFP.

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

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travertine floor make the space a popular spot for weddings, executive meetings and even private workout classes coordinated in partnership with local personal trainers. Groups are in good hands at the on-site AAA/CAA Four Diamond Grant Grill, which serves up seasonal California dishes made from fresh, local ingredients, innovative craft cocktails and a melt-in-your-mouth focaccia bread with its own fan following. Groups of up to 12 can enjoy private wine-paired meals in the restaurant’s private dining room or head over to Rendezvous, the hotel’s Frenchinspired cocktail bar where artisanal cocktails are crafted with elegance and flair (including this issue’s Signature Drink, Le Coq). Groups of up to 15 can arrange private cocktail making classes with mixologist extraordinaire Rex Yuasa, or book full private events at Rendezvous for up to 130 guests. And though there’s plenty to enjoy on-property, guests can venture off-site with the help of THE US GRANT’s staff docents. Ideally located near some of San Diego’s most scenic spots, including the lively Gaslamp Quarter, the hotel’s expert team can help arrange ample opportunities for adventure, from museum tours and a stroll through Balboa Park to sunset cruises through the San Diego Bay.

Get Connected

SIGNATURE DRINK»

Courtesy of THE US GRANT Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego INGREDIENTS

—.5 oz. Bigallet Thyme liqueur —.5 oz. Massenez Garden Party Rosemary liqueur —.5 oz. Domaine Sante All-Sass (Wine Grape Nectar) —2.5 oz. sparkling wine —splash of absinthe DIRECTIONS

Wash or spray the inside of a Collins glass with absinthe. Add ice and combine Bigallet Thyme liqueur, Massenez Garden Party Rosemary liqueur and Domaine Sante All-Sass in the glass. Top off with sparkling wine (Le Vielle Ferme Reserve Brut is preferred) and garnish with a festive feather.

P H OTO S : R E F R E S H P H OTO G R A P H Y; T H E U S G R A N T H OT E L

rugs and a presidential palette of navy blues and golds (an homage to the hotel’s presidential ties), each of the hotel’s 19 meeting and event spaces (offering over 33,000 square feet) reflects a charm of its own. Groups of up to 500 can celebrate in the 5,600-square-foot Bivouac Ballroom (the site of a former Prohibition-era speakeasy and the hotel’s original Turkish baths) featuring 1920s-inspired hanging pendants and striking vaulted ceilings, or gather in the Presidential Ballroom and Foyer, where portraits of the presidents and first ladies who have visited line the entrance and a hardwood dancefloor, crystal chandeliers and a built-in stage offer an elegant setting for corporate presentations and galas. Ornate moldings, a wall of windows and stunning chandeliers complete the Palm Court, perfect for banquets or corporate luncheons for up to 250 guests, while the Long, Allbright and Sickels boardrooms, each nearly 300 square feet, can accommodate an average of 20 guests for tranquil, natural light-filled brainstorming or breakout sessions. Groups of up to 250 can also revel in the opulence of the Crystal Ballroom. Once home to San Diego’s Italian American Club and a popular past meeting space for local women’s associations and high-powered business meetings, the regal, 2,600-square-foot space features its own private street entrance and a classic “staircase to nowhere” for the most glamorous of guest arrivals. Gilded columns, etched ceilings, shimmering chandeliers and a black and gold

THE US GRANT HOTEL, A LUXURY COLLECTION HOTEL, SAN DIEGO theusgranthotel.com | 619.232.3121

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P H OTO S : R E F R E S H P H OTO G R A P H Y; T H E U S G R A N T H OT E L


PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

RESTAURANT REC»

BIXI BEER

A mythical origin story, the fusion of unexpected ingredients and plenty of event space set this Logan Square brewery apart. B y M e g a n G o s c h

W

Get Connected

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BIXI BEER | bixi.beer | info@bixi.beer

NEW VENUE SPOTLIGHT»

An Incubator Thrives in Rockford THE NEW MARKET VENUE FOSTERS INNOVATION FOR GATHERINGS OF ALL TYPES. The home of Rockford’s new entrepreneurial event space may date back to the 1920s, but Rockford City Market is primed to showcase future creatives and makers of all kinds. Comprised of a food hall featuring Crust & Crumbles, Quixotic Bakery, Velvet Robot Coffee Lab and Ronit’s Kitchen (all vendors that got their starts at outdoor markets), the market also features a state-of-the-art incubator kitchen that’s primarily rented to entrepreneurs looking to start their own food truck or restaurant. It can also be rented for private events as a designated catering kitchen, along with three rentable spaces available for private events as well as public events, ranging from farmers markets and yoga classes to live music showcases, wellness expos and whiskey tastings. The market’s 3,214-square-foot lower-level Market Hall, which features

P H O T O S : M A D I E L L I S ; PA L E T T E O F L I G H T P H O T O G R A P H Y & F I L M

orlds collide at BiXi Beer (pronounced bee-shee), where American brewpub fare mingles with Eastern influences, a juxtaposition of dark and light create distinct, eye-catching event spaces and an ancient Chinese myth gets the DC Comics treatment. Originally named for BiXi, one of the legendary Dragon King’s nine sons, odes to the dragon-turtle figure are carried throughout the multilevel space, including a mural created by famed comic book artist Eduardo Risso, a custom mural by chef and artist Won Kim and 40 commissioned oil paintings by Max Unterhaslberger depicting an imagined destiny of BiXi’s lineage. Guests can sample intriguing brews infused with unexpected ingredients like jasmine tea, lemongrass or Szechuan peppercorn, alongside popular dishes like pot stickers, kimchi mandu (Korean dumplings) and Massaman curry in the brewpub’s decidedly more industrial first-floor taproom. “Our first floor features more of a pub vibe with dark, charcoal walls, custom cage-like hanging light fixtures and these sleek black leather booths,” says Events Coordinator Jasmine Vukmarkovic, “but the contrast between both floors is completely day and night.” Up on the second floor, a moody lounge space (also known as “The Opium Den”) perfect for cocktail parties of 20 or fewer, and the forest-hued Green Room, ideally suited for private dinners of up to 40 seated, give way to BiXi’s lush atrium-like dining room and rooftop patio. White marble, arched bar shelves, a retractable roof, living walls and abundant greenery complete the sun-soaked space. “Coming from the depth and darker tones in the taproom, the sun hits you instantly and creates this open-air atmosphere,” says Vukmarkovic. The Lounge and Green Room can be rented together, and with a second floor buyout BiXi’s most popular spaces for social celebrations and corporate events can accommodate up to 220 guests. For large-scale events, full restaurant buyouts can accommodate groups of up to 350. Built from inventive, chef-driven dishes, BiXi offers customizable event menus and can work with the BiXi team to craft custom cocktails and brews for private events.

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P H O T O S : M A D I E L L I S ; PA L E T T E O F L I G H T P H O T O G R A P H Y & F I L M

industrial cement floors and the landmark building’s original limestone, can accommodate up to 175 guests seated or 225 standing. Its 18,360-square-foot Outdoor Pavilion can accommodate a scaling capacity based on event type, while the 3,364-square-foot Bowtruss Room, complete with exposed brick and wooden beams, can accommodate up to 225 seated or 300 standing. “Our building’s been around since 1921, where it began as one of the first Harley Davidson dealerships, so we’ve tried to keep as many of the building’s original features as possible,” says Rockford City Market Event Coordinator Becca Bartels. “The Bowtruss Room has an amazing arched ceiling that utilizes a lot of the original wood beams and we’ve installed two garage doors in our Market Hall space, paying homage to the building’s past. It’s a really great space that definitely captures historic downtown Rockford.” While the market is already popular for fundraisers, weddings, galas, corporate meetings and workshops, “our space is flexible, so we’re able to cater to exact needs depending on desired look and layout,” Bartels says. —Megan Gosch

Get Connected ROCKFORD CITY MARKET rockfordcitymarket.com | 815.315.1337

When you retreat to Illinois’ fastest growing city, yet can still get away from it all. We’re expanding! Home to the University of Illinois, Champaign County is an ideal choice for regional gatherings. Contact us to learn about expanded and new meeting space for your event.

Schedule a site visit today to receive an Outside of Ordinary gift!

800.369.6151 | caitlynf@visitchampaigncounty.org

visitchampaigncounty.org

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VENUE REPORT SPEAKEASIES

SPEAKEASY SHINDIGS

Rich in history and booze, Chicago’s speakeasies make unique event spaces. BY K A SSIDY TA R A L A

Whether you’re a meeting planner or Al Capone himself, if you want to host an event in Chicago, there’s one venue trend that you simply can’t pass up: speakeasies. ¶ Rooted in Chicago’s Prohibition-era days, speakeasies are as much a part of Chicago’s history as deep-dish pizza and popcorn. Dripping in 1920s flapper glam, Chicago’s speakeasies are a trendy spot Here are six fabulous speakeasies for your next Chicago-based event:

The Drifter With a catchphrase of “not all who wander are lost,” The Drifter is the go-to speakeasy for the wanderlust, history buffs and cocktail enthusiasts alike. Operating as a private event space, The Drifter can host 40 to 70 guests, offers a full buffet of appetizers and serves cocktails crafted by Liz Pearce, a James Beard nominee and one of Food & Wine’s top new mixologists in 2015. In addition to its ever-changing menu of drinks, the daily menu is (literally) found in the tarot cards, as are the cocktails. Every night, the mixologists read the deck of tarot cards to decide what to batch for the evening’s specialty cocktails.

Nitti’s Speakeasy Connected to the private dining spaces on the second

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P H O T O S : ( C L O C K W I S E ) C L AY T O N H A U C K ; M A R K B A L L O G G W I T H B A L L O G G P H O T O G R A P H Y ; C L AY T O N H A U C K ; T H E D R I F T E R ; K Y L E F L U B A C K E R

for intimate gatherings and small events.

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Clockwise from top left: Milk Room Chicago serves classic cocktails made with vintage spirits, Nitti’s Speakeasy offers guests a secret hideout, Milk Room Chicago’s eight-seat bar is ideal for intimate groups, tarot card readings determine your order at The Drifter, a Wild West vibe sets the scene at The Backdoor Saloon.

floor of Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, River North, Nitti’s Speakeasy has proven to be a popular spot for small corporate and social events. “Located behind a hidden bookcase door, Nitti’s walls are covered in damask wallpaper with hints of gold; rich blue velvet curtains cover the windows and crystal lamps provide moody lighting. Guests are served special Prohibition-era cocktails through a secret opening hidden in the wall,” says Joanna DePorter, vice president of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group. Nitti’s is available exclusively for private events and can accommodate 14 guests for plated events or 25 for receptions. It can also be used as a cocktail space in the adjacent MVP room, which can accommodate 70 guests for plated events or 100 for receptions. The space was home to one of Chicago’s most notorious gangsters, Frank Nitti, who was known for a life of crime working with Al Capone. “The room was used as a hideout during the Prohibition era as well as a passageway to Chicago’s underground tunnel system, allowing Nitti and his associates to come and go without being seen on the streets of Chicago,” DePorter says.

The Backdoor Saloon Located above The Front Room Chicago, The Backdoor Saloon is a popular speakeasy for young professionals, groups of friends and birthday celebrations. The Backdoor Saloon can accommodate groups of up to 60 guests in its Wild-Westmeets-French-boudoir vibe space. For smaller groups, intimate seated areas can accommodate 8-20 guests. In addition to its numerous corporate dinners, holiday celebrations and wedding rehearsal dinners, the 1,100-square-foot speakeasy is known for its burlesque shows every Friday and Saturday after 11 p.m.

Milk Room Chicago An eight-seat bar, Milk Room Chicago is a

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VENUE REPORT SPEAKEASIES

Dark corners and strong drinks await at The Library at Gilt Bar (left); Janitor’s Closet crafts inventive cocktails in a subterranean locale (right).

The Library at Gilt Bar

Get Connected THE BACKDOOR SALOON thebackdoorsaloon.com 312.491.0844 THE DRIFTER thedrifterchicago.com 312.631.3887 JANITOR’S CLOSET fieldhousejones.com/chicago 312.291.9922 THE LIBRARY AT GILT BAR giltbarchicago.com 312.464.9544 MILK ROOM CHICAGO lsdatcaa.com/milk-room 312.792.3535 NITTI’S SPEAKEASY harrycarays.com/nittisspeakeasy 312.828.0966

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No better time to take a trip to “the library” than 11 p.m. on a Saturday. Located directly beneath Gilt Bar, The Library is a basement speakeasy that can accommodate groups of 46 seated or 55 standing. Only open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday, The Library at Gilt Bar is available for private events any day of the week. The “secret” speakeasy is also one of the only in Chicago to offer a full dinner menu. The Library at Gilt Bar is a common place to spot some weekly regulars, but it’s becoming increasingly popular among young professionals and dates looking for something fun and surprising—something they’ll surely find at The Library.

Janitor’s Closet Usually, the janitor’s closet is the last place you’d want to sip on a sazerac, but not in Chicago. Janitor’s Closet is a popular speakeasy housed in the basement of Fieldhouse Jones, a boutique hotel. The building,

“We are both serious about our drinks and concept without pretense. The space and vibe are intimate, cozy and have great attention to detail.” –J E F TATE , O PE R ATI NG PA RTN E R A N D B E V E R AG E DIRECTOR, JANITOR’S CLOSET

formerly the Borden’s Dairy Depot, was built in 1931, making the speakeasy a must for all history buffs. Janitor’s Closet can be rented for private events and accepts reservations. Keeping its customers on their toes, Janitor’s Closet’s menu changes seasonally. “We are both serious about our drinks and concept without pretense,” says operating partner and beverage director Jef Tate. “The space and vibe are intimate, cozy and have great attention to detail.” Some of Janitor’s Closet’s most popular drinks are The Santigold (rum, passionfruit, pistachio orgeat, crème de cacao, lemon juice and tobacco bitters), The Brown Line (tamarind, pineapple, lime juice, lemon juice, agave spirits, tequila, mezcal and black garlic garnish) and The Lily’s Pad (gin, aquavit, aloe liqueur, okra-infused blanc vermouth, lemon juice and muddled basil).

P H O T O S : H O G S A LT ; P E T E R R A N V E S T E L

cozy, intimate setting that will no doubt give you some serious Scarface vibes. Private events for up to 12 guests can be hosted in the small space where they’ll be served some of Milk Room’s most popular drinks, including the oldfashioned and Fords Cocktail. Milk Room Chicago focuses on classic, spiritforward cocktails comprised of rare, vintage spirits and other hard-to-find ingredients.

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PERFECT FOR EVENTS

Plan your special celebration at Four Winds New Buffalo. Silver Creek Event Center offers over 17,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and can accommodate groups from 20 to 2,000. Have a rockin’ good time when you host your party in Hard Rock Cafe. For a more intimate setting, you can book the Private Dining Room of The Buffet or Copper Rock Steakhouse. With over 2,400 slots, 47 table games, 415 deluxe hotel rooms, and five delicious restaurants, Four Winds New Buffalo has everything you need to make your event a huge success.

P H O T O S : H O G S A LT ; P E T E R R A N V E S T E L

To book your event, or for more information, please call 1-866-4WINDS1 ext 5219 to speak with our knowledgeable sales team.

1.866.4WINDS1 • fourwindscasino.com

Must be 21 years of age or older. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians invites you to play responsibly. If you think you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-522-4700. ©2020 Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. 3141-7.01.20

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FRINGE BENEFITS Bold textures, geometric patterns, fresh florals and a nod to Bauhaus design complete this unexpected, yet sophisticated look. B Y M E G A N G O S C H

Vendor Partners DESIGN AND DÉCOR | Kehoe Designs | kehoedesigns.com TECHNICAL SUPPORT | BlackOak Technical Productions | blackoak.tech PLACE MATS | Lola Valentina Designs | lolavalentina.com

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P H OTO : K E H O E D E S I G N S

W

hen Kehoe Designs Event Producer Mathew Lahey set out to create an in-house showcase for “Knees Deep,” the company’s latest design series, which challenged the Kehoe team to take a deep dive into forecasted style trends, he found a unique opportunity to take risks and push boundaries. “Collaborating with a designer can be a very personal journey and this was a way to show who we are as designers, to reflect our individual style and personality,” says Lahey. “It’s not often you get to do a project like this, so I wanted to try something unexpected and work with elements you might not traditionally think to pair together to find a surprising harmony.” Working from a “Poetic Muse” trend board, Lahey pulled the residential concept together with a strong focus on color, shape, texture and pattern as well as a nod to vintage, avantgarde Bauhaus design. A color palette of chalky blues, dusty pinks, burgundy, brown, black and ecru helped set a moody, yet earthy and organic tone, while layered elements—from custom fringe chandeliers and mirrored décor to geometric furniture and exotic greenery—added tangible texture to the scene. Florals included striking king proteas, robellini palms, monstera leaves and viburnum. “I was a florist in a past life so my design style is pretty floral and greenery-heavy,” notes Lahey. “We picked these fun, fresh blooms for another unexpected touch, while the table was set with elements that felt sophisticated, but strategic.” Black and white statement place mats mimicked the scene’s patterned floor as well as the table’s triangular base frame, while mirrors and vases in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors added depth and reflection to the table’s statement design. “By far our biggest statement pieces were our three-tiered custom-designed fringe chandeliers,” says Lahey. “The fringe brought out a bit of that Bauhuas flair and personality, but it also adds this soft, feminine touch in contrast to some of those bold geometric shapes.” The design, which Lahey notes features plenty of adaptable elements, offers inspiration to guests of Kehoe Designs’ Studio where the installation is on full display. “The fringe chandeliers would be perfect for a plush lounge space and there’s so much possibility in details like the graphic place mats and floors that planners can apply to so many events,” he says. “People walk in and they immediately want to touch and feel and experience the design. They’re intrigued and excited to engage and that’s the whole goal.”

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TABLESCAPE KEHOE DESIGNS STUDIO SHOWCASE

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TREND REPORT EVENT TECH

TECH THAT TRANSLATES

For production pros, emerging tech trends and cues from big-league productions help excite, engage and inspire attendees. B Y M E G A N G O S C H WHETHER DABBLING WITH AN AUGMENTED REALITY APP, getting up to speed on the complexities of 5G service or employing cocktail-mixing robots, planners are no strangers to emerging technology. As meetings and events become increasingly tech-driven affairs, we’ve checked in with top event production pros for their takes on the latest event tech trends and what’s to come in the year ahead.

P H O T O : B L A C KO A K T E C H N I C A L P R O D U C T I O N S

BlackOak Technical Productions transformed the Lakeshore Beach Club with projection mapping.

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P H O T O : B L A C KO A K T E C H N I C A L P R O D U C T I O N S

While concepts like celebrity-turned-hologram performances and foldable screens may not seem far-off or futuristic to some, event producers note it often takes years for the latest innovations to hit mainstream markets in earnest. “Right now, we’re in the middle of a lot of interactive tech trends—things like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality,” says BlackOak Technical Productions Managing Director Adam McCarthy. “These technologies have been emerging for years. We’ve seen them, we’ve heard about them, there’s a conscious awareness around them and many consumers have probably experienced them once or twice. Still, we’re just now getting to a point where that technology is being implemented in interesting, affordable ways.” McCarthy notes trends like VR and AR have been slow to mainstream adoption due to cost, technical sophistication and the programmatic implementation required to build compatible content—something he predicts will also be true for products like holograms. “The underlying technology used in these products is nothing new. It’s the creative application we see day to day that’s current.”

Heavy Hitters “If there’s a single element you could pinpoint that’s changed and continues to change events, it has to be the use and impact of video,” says Robert “Bob” Jones, head of production and vice president of operations for FROST Chicago. For Jones and his team, the production and incorporation of everything from custom video programming and event marketing content to video mapping, video projection, video walls and more has become not only a large part of their client work but also the most transformative, with seemingly endless possibilities. FROST Chicago Creative Director Jeffrey Foster agrees, noting “concepts like video mapping have been a practice in the industry for a couple of years now and planners from all walks of the industry are starting to understand the benefits. The ability to completely transform a room, wall or décor piece is truly unlimited.” Foster and Jones have also found that video elements like mapping and projection can not

only elevate the overall event experience, but have also begun to unseat more traditional event elements. “We believe that technology is the new décor. You see it everywhere from retail executions to award shows,” says Foster. “In many respects, elements like conventional décor—floral, linens, etc.—are being reimagined and we’re seeing an uptick in replacing and/or enhancing those elements with video. In a scenario where you might have had a floral runner at a wedding or corporate event, now planners are choosing to use projection to create that same visual but a visual that’s become much more dynamic. You can change the aesthetic from one part of the event to the next to create transitions that transform the event itself,” says Jones. An increased demand for video content has

Found Spaces As events also trend toward soirees held in surprising and unconventional spaces, producers like McCarthy have also found solutions like LED products to be key. “Events in alternative spaces like an alley or warehouse are exciting production challenges and new technologies are helping to make that design more approachable.” McCarthy says. “In a lot of these spaces, you won’t have much control of the natural light so an LED wall, which is much brighter and performs better in high ambient light situations, could be the solution. Or maybe you’re in a space broken up by columns or smaller rooms and a central presentation won’t make sense. Coordinating a livestream on a private network or directly to your cell phone as a second screen is a great alternative. As our tech advances, more and

In a scenario where you might have had a floral runner at a wedding or corporate event, now planners are choosing to use projection to create that same visual, but a visual that’s become much more dynamic. You can change the aesthetic from one part of the event to the next to create transitions that transform the event itself,” BOB JONES, HEAD OF PRODUCTION, FROST CHICAGO

also driven desire for already popular LED products. “Over the last few years with the developments we’ve seen in video display surfaces, it’s certainly changed how we approach using LED walls as opposed to projection screens,” says McCarthy. FROST Chicago’s team has also prioritized LED products having recently invested a significant portion of its purchase budget to doubling the company’s inventory of highresolution LED product. “LED is something the market’s dictated we double down on. We even have a member of our staff dedicated solely to servicing nothing but our LED quality and in-house repair,” says Jones.

more of these nontraditional spaces open up new possibilities.” McCarthy and his team have also found that the less traditional the space, the more important the fundamentals become. “When you’re hosting an event out in a field, even A/V basics can differentiate and impress. Just nailing the fundamentals in a setting like that can create an amazing event experience for your attendees.”

On the Horizon While event producers expect the current curiosity for and accessibility to AR- and VR-focused applications to grow, the use of

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TREND REPORT EVENT TECH

Interactive video projection brought this brand activation to life.

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upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where “we’re guaranteed to see some new and intriguing concepts on display,” he says. “To me, the best way to see and experience what will be coming to private events down the pipeline is to scope out what the broadcast industry and major league sports are doing. If you want to see the future of events, just go to a basketball game.” He finds asking questions like how broadcast entities are changing the stadium experience or merging the live and at-home experiences can help in understanding and adapting the trends that may emerge. “Companies and productions like these are a kind of vanguard of a lot of those emerging technologies and it’s only a matter of time before they’ve become ingrained in the event industry.”

Big Picture With plenty of competition for attendee attention in the digital age, producers report that regardless of how the latest trends may take shape, event technology done right is still a tool in telling a larger story. “We’ve become such a visual culture that

we find ourselves reminding clients they’re bringing people together to share a larger message or story and the production should reflect that,” says McCarthy. “We’re not just using the latest technology for technology’s sake. The technology may change, but the function does not.” From digital assets for social media and registration to general sessions and breakouts, McCarthy stresses the importance of consistency across production touch points in telling a cohesive story. Jones agrees, noting, “Strategic use of tech tools to communicate clear, polished and creative messages is what the guests will remember. Using those touch points to tell a story, stir an emotion, communicate a feeling that sticks with attendees long after they leave—that’s what makes the impact.”

Get Connected BLACKOAK TECHNICAL PRODUCTIONS blackoak.tech FROST CHICAGO frostchicago.com

P H O T O : R YA N S J O S T R O M

holograms and drones is on the horizon. McCarthy and his team have begun to use drones for social events and weddings with coordinated programs customized with romantic symbols and the couple’s initials— something he notes could be easily adapted to a branded corporate event. “An entire show can be easily customized to include a brand’s messaging, logo, brand color, etc. Drone shows are a newer trend on the rise and can make for a surprisingly approachable wow-factor,” says McCarthy. To keep an eye out for new and emerging trends, McCarthy also advises paying close attention to highly-televised events known for producing showstopping productions. “If you think back to Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime show, the drones she incorporated really entered the collective conscious at that moment and sparked imagination for viewers,” McCarthy. “Major events like Coachella or the Super Bowl are a huge source of inspiration and can be central to how they understand new technology and what’s possible in mainstream events.” McCarthy also eagerly awaits events like the

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What Could Go Wrong? 28

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By Megan Gosch

E M E R G E N C Y M A N AG E M E NT E X P E R T S , LO C A L P L A N N E R S A N D K E Y C I T Y O F F I C I A L S TA L K T I P S , T O O L S A N D TOP - OF - MIND CONCE P TS TO KE E P EVE NTS SAFE AND R U N N I N G S M O O T H LY.

By

the time the now-iconic photo of one Fyre Festival-goer’s pitiful cheese sandwich had gone viral, social media platforms and news outlets were abuzz with shock and bewilderment—questioning how the seemingly star-studded island excursion could have resulted in half-built FEMA-issued tents, cancelled musical acts and stranded attendees. But for seasoned planners, the legendary disaster was just another in a slew of daily reminders on the importance of contingency planning and the true value of the many hours spent crafting alternate options for the emergencies they hope will never come to pass. While most planners are well-versed in the basic elements of contingency planning, we checked in with crowd and emergency management experts, local planners and key city officials to talk tips, tools and concepts for planners to keep top-of-mind when planning their next event. HIT REFRESH Just as custom reigns king in today’s event design, food and beverage and décor, cookie-cutter plans won’t do in case of an emergency—a concept planners likely already know but need to dedicate more time and effort to. “To effectively manage an issue as it arises, contingency plans should be unique to that event,” says Crisis and Public Relations Consultant Rick J. Kaufman, APR. With over 30 years of emergency management experience, Kaufman also works as a consultant to schools and organizations across the country finding that although most clients come to him with a plan already in place, many are already years old or are too incomplete, requiring an audit for vulnerabilities or any possible gaps in operational response. “A solid plan should consist of elements of preven-

tion and intervention, response and recovery and a crisis plan. The contingency plan should also account for the needs of the client, and attendees, event activities and location specifics,” he says. “In most cases starting with a general framework is OK, but you need to get more specific and drill down from there. You need answers to big questions and that effort takes a significant amount of time.” For some, finding enough time to contingency plan may be the biggest challenge. “Events are stressful and it can be easy to get wrapped up in the details, but those emergency and backup plans should start coming together as soon as possible,” says Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE) Director of Special Events Jennifer Johnson Washington. “Ideally those fully fleshed out plans are beginning to take shape 10 or 12 months out.” PRA Chicago General Manager Heather Brown, CMP, DMCP agrees, noting, “Thinking through such an important element like contingency planning needs to start at the very beginning, as early as possible. Our team starts working through emergency preparedness scenarios at the top of the process as we design our proposals.” While crafting client proposals, Brown’s team begins to think through scenarios of all kinds—from bad weather to unexpected protests or street closures—from a “what if” perspective. “Because some contingency plans are more appealing than others, we’re outlining those backup scenarios in our first client proposal to showcase that we’ve really thought it out,” Brown says. “We’re presenting them with the experience they’ve asked for and the ideas we think would be perfect for their program, but worst-case scenario, here’s the ultimate experience your guests are going to receive if something should go wrong and we need to utilize Plan B.”

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“You don’t want to get caught flat-footed. Issues that pop up are only exacerbated when the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, Everyone needs to know where direction is coming from, what their roles are, who is responsible for what and they need to be adequately trained to take on those roles. Any confusion on those expectations can slow down response time and cause more distress or panic.”

RICK J. K AUFMAN, APR Crisis and Public Relations Consultant

TEAM EFFORT “At their events, planners are in a unique role in that they are the most knowledgeable person in the room. They are the experts in their circumstances” says Steven A. Adelman, an expert in safety and security at live events, head of the Adelman Law Group, PLLC and vice president of the Event Safety Alliance. “As attendees, we tend to be anti-authoritarian when we go out to play. We don’t listen to directions or pay attention very well. We’re more concerned with who’s going to win or who’s coming out on stage or what’s the next cool display. We’re looking for our friends. We’re not looking at signage, we don’t notice exits and we probably can’t hear your PA announcements, so we’re really relying on event organizers to have the answers if anything bad happens.” And while that may be intimidating to some, experts like Adelman and local event professionals like Brown agree it’s important for planners to utilize the full strength and support of their team. Successful contingency planning relies heavily on a team approach, delegation and strong, clear communication. “You can’t do it all by yourself, that’s for sure,” says Brown. “You need to rely on and collaborate with so many people through the event planning process in general—there are so many moving parts—and the same should go for your contingency efforts. Collaboration through that process can be critical.” Just as planners maintain clear and consistent channels of communication with event partners, from clients and colleagues to A/V providers and custodial staff,

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ensuring day-of production goes off without a hitch, planners must consider how contingencies can impact all involved with their events and communicate accordingly. “You don’t want to get caught flat-footed. Issues that pop up are only exacerbated when the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing,” says Kaufman. “Everyone needs to know where direction is coming from, what their roles are, who is responsible for what and they need to be adequately trained to take on those roles. Any confusion on those expectations can slow down response time and cause more distress or panic.” Brown and her team put these tenets into action, not only in keeping internal staff and clients up to date, but relying on each other (as well as industry experts) for new and evolving information. “I’m fortunate to work for a company that takes contingency planning very seriously and trains our field staff accordingly. We can count on our team’s expertise and training, but we’re also reporting back with what we’ve learned elsewhere.” From annual trainings, role play scenarios and review of emergency preparedness standards to industry educational opportunities and certifications, Brown stresses the benefits of idea sharing. “Whether it’s sending staff to ADMEIs (Association of Destination Management Executives International) Emergency Preparedness Certificate Programs (EPCP) or a local association’s educational panel, there’s so much great information out there and I don’t think you can ever learn too much on the topic. When we can make these resources a priority and learn from these events, we’re able to bring that knowledge back and fill in the rest of the team, which only strengthens our contingency efforts” QUESTIONS ARE KEY “Really, when it comes down to it, contingency planning is all about asking good questions,” says Adelman. When crafting a thorough contingency plan, planners may turn to local law enforcement and emergency responder professionals for help, “and that’s a great place to start, but there needs to be more of a dialogue. “No matter how much time I might spend with a client, I’m never going to be as knowledgeable about their event as they are. I do know where things tend to go wrong and I know what the existing guidance is to help mitigate some of those risks. Experts may know enough about human psychology or a specific security issue, but planners need to take what they’ve learned from those conversations and adapt it to their events. The

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Compelling Conversation

MPI-CAC’s director of marketing and public relations reports the top takeaways from its recent safety and security-focused program.

From planning for emergencies

and developing communication plans to an understanding of all types of risk and a mastery of force majeure clauses, attendees of a recent MPI Chicago Area Chapter (MPICAC) educational program were treated to an informative safety and security panel discussion. Held at the Chicago Marriott at Medical District/UIC and moderated by Jim Grillo, CMP, of Here’s Chicago, nearly 60 meeting planners and suppliers heard from panelists Alex Hernandez, senior director of security for the United Center, and Barnes & Thornburg LLP attorney Matthew E. Misichko, who touched on the importance of communication at events. “There’s strategy involved with communication as well,” says Misichko. “Let’s say everything is working properly. The time to be thinking about proper communication is not when the emergency is happening. You should already have an idea of what that plan is and you should already have that number or those numbers stored in your phone. Who in this room knows who to call first? Do you call hotel security first or do you call 911? That’s key.” Echoing the importance of communication, Hernandez says he likes to attend every meeting leading up to an event, regardless of whether it’s a pre-convention planning meeting, a banquet event order meeting (BEO) or a transportation meeting. “A lot of my colleagues or counterparts think I’m crazy because I attend every meeting,” he says. “For some events I have to worry about 150 charter buses coming to my venue. How am I closing the streets? How’s security going to look? I might have 22,000 people trickling in depending on the event. I’m not going to learn those things if I don’t attend those meetings. Not everyone is going to want to attend those, but if you’re giving them that information, then you’re not liable, your conscience is clean and you know that you provided all of the information needed to for that event.”

Both panelists also offered suggestions for what kinds of questions to ask when hiring security companies. “When it comes to venues, first of all any company should be willing to provide a certificate of insurance (COI),” Hernandez says. “I would also ask if it’s a law enforcement company, as a lot of security companies are run by former law enforcement or current law enforcement. If they aren’t, ask what certifications or training they go through.” Misichko suggests not only including security company specifics in the RFP, but also making them representatives in the contract, too. “It’s critical to think about those qualities and qualifications Alex mentioned,” he says. Following the education program was a networking reception where many attendees shared their safety and security horror stories. PRA Chicago General Manager Heather Brown, CMP, DMCP found that the panel sparked a critical, eye-opening conversation. “I think [the program] inspired a lot of us to evaluate some really key things we hadn’t thought of before ... things like reconsidering hotel contract language when thinking through risk mitigation and emergency planning, which has always been a sort of status quo,” says Brown. “Just starting these conversations is huge because there’s been so much buzz around words like safety and security for years, but what’s changed is we’re beginning to be able to actually frame those words around tangible action, whereas just a few years ago these topics were so much more abstract,” says Brown. “There were a lot of planners in the room and what I kept hearing over and over was, ‘I know [contingency planning] is important, but I just don’t know what steps to take. I know the framework, but when I get into the intricacies I’m completely lost.’ Hopefully this is just the start of a much larger ongoing dialogue.”

HEATHER WARTHEN is chief events officer and chief marketing officer for 22nd Century Media, which publishes award-winning hyperlocal newspapers in the suburbs of Chicago. She is an award-winning journalist and photographer who now manages the planning, logistics, marketing and executing of more than a dozen community events and expos. She serves on the 2019-2020 MPI-CAC Board of Directors as director of marketing and public relations.

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better and more specific the questions, the better prepared they’ll be,” Adelman says. Kaufman concurs, noting “your plan can only be strengthened by the answers you’ve gathered along the way. What are the hazards to your event? Are they geographical? Are they intentional? Will dignitaries attend? Will alcohol be served? Who will provide the security and what are they responsible for? What time will doors open? What time does the event end? Which exits and entrances will be used? Your questions will range from broad and high-level down to the minute detail, but this is a time you don’t want to hold back. It can sound elementary, but understanding that questions like these are your tools can be powerful and keep you prepared.” BIG PICTURE Unfortunately, while man-made hazards and acts of violence continue to dominate news cycles and can loom as a potential threat throughout the event planning process, experts worry planners may begin to miss the forest for the trees with less attention paid to other likely risks. “The inclination is to react to what we see in the headlines. We have far too many instances of active shooters, so we pay a disproportionate amount of our attention to guns relative to the likelihood that we will have a gun-related incident at our event,” says Adelman. From the placement of directional signage and seating or stage setup, to the event of a flood or an attendee health or medical emergency, “we need to be able to deal with crowd management apart from active shooters because crowd management must be done regardless of the reason the crowd needs to be managed. This can get us out of the trap of thinking only of guns.” Kaufman also advises planners to focus on the task at hand when planning for the worst-case scenario—the response. “We often focus too much on the threat and less on the response specific to that emergency. ‘Active shooter’ may be the buzzword these days, but any number of threats could emerge that require a similar response protocol,” he says. “The reality is it’s about responding to situations we don’t have all of the info for. I counsel clients to concentrate on and practice drills using consistent protocols to create cultural conditions so that they know what to do in a real-world situation.” Adelman also notes the value in planning for

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substance as well as perception. “The fear of acts of violence is far more widespread than the acts of violence themselves, but addressing perception can enhance attendee confidence. Obviously you want to have the basics—security perimeters like a physical fence or use of bollards and a check of guests and their bags at the point of ingress, wayfinding signage and clear directions to exits—because visual deterrents not only help prevent bad behavior, they provide a sense of confidence to guests. In the past, uniformed security guards might have caused alarm, but these days when they see security, guests are more likely to think ‘great, they’re considering our safety,’” says Adelman. O N T H E R A DA R While active shooters may be one of the most concerning threats facing today’s live events, experts advise planners also to keep issues like cyber security and climate change top of mind. “Climate change should be on everyone’s radar and may actually impact the live event industry disproportionately due to the number of events that take place outside of brick-and-mortar venues,” says Adelman. “As our climate becomes less stable, we have an increased potential for severe weather evacuations, underscoring the importance of having a severe weather action plan. Planners will need to stress site planning as well as access to accurate weather information. Hint: Your phone app is not a reliable source of GPS-located weather information.” P OWE R I N PL AN N I N G Most importantly, although the complex process of contingency planning may be nerve-wracking at times, Adelman encourages planners to embrace the power that the practice can bring planners. “Understanding crowd management and contingency planning gives people—regardless of age, skill set, education level or expertise—helpful things they can do in an emergency that are within their power,” says Adelman. “Being told to stand in a corner and wait for further instruction—that’s disempowering. But when you break things like an evacuation plan for severe weather or finding backup entertainment for an artist that can’t perform down into fairly simple, easily achievable elements, there’s something everyone can do to help solve a problem and to help keep people safe—that’s empowering.”

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Tools of the Trade

While the ideal combination of guides, websites and services will vary by event, local planners and industry experts have recommended a few of their go-to tools: American National Standards Institute (ANSI): A private not-for-profit organization fostering national safeguarding standards for a range of industries, including the field of safety and security. ANSI will publish a new Crowd Management standard in early 2020 to provide planners with key questions and authoritative crowd management guidance for planning safe and secure events. ansi.org Event Safety Alliance: Dedicated to helping event professionals mitigate foreseeable live event risks through education, skills training and advocacy, this nonprofit creates resources for planners like its Event Safety Podcast (an ongoing discussion for ideas and news from the world of live event safety), Event Safety Access Training (an online program for professionals in all aspects of event production), and The Event Safety Guide, the country’s first published safety guidance manual created specifically for the live event industry. The Guide compiles relevant safety standards, insight from industry experts and reasonable operational practices regarding emergency planning, weather preparedness and more. eventsafetyalliance.org The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service: The national organization provides weather, water and climate information for the general public, but can also help planners prepare for hazardous conditions that may put attendees in harm’s way. Planners can register their event with the organization’s local branch for assistance with accurate day-of forecasting. noaa.gov, weather.gov National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4): As one of the world’s leading academic research institutions in addressing sports safety, security risks and threats, it offers planners a variety of online resources, best practice guides and more. ncs4.usm.edu

Tips from a Pro

Jennifer Johnson Washington, director of special events for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE), who processes permits and coordinates city resources for nearly 700 events each year, shares her tips for successful community and public sector relationship-building when it comes to contingency planning.

It’s never too early: “Start early. We want planners, especially first-timers, to reach out as soon as possible—even if they don’t have all of the details yet. We prefer to have applications in 60 days in advance, but you’d be surprised how many think they can do it all in 30 or 45.” Make

an

appearance:

“We’re a small but mighty team and our main focus is to make sure events happen safely, so we’re always happy to meet with anyone who needs the help. If you have any specific questions, come on in. We’ll hear your vision and help walk you through all the hurdles that you may need to jump over to accomplish that ultimate goal.”

Dot your i’s: “The funny thing is, first-time organizers tend to be a bit more detail oriented. They’re going above and beyond to make sure they’re checking all of the boxes and their applications are complete, which is huge for us. That diligence keeps our process running smoothly and ultimately makes for a stronger event.”

Be neighborly: “We encourage planners to be as communicative as possible with our residents so they

aren’t caught off-guard when all of a sudden their street is closed and they’re wondering what’s going on. For some of our neighborhoods, residents can be inconvenienced on a regular basis by local events, or even filming projects, and a heads-up goes such a long way.”

In the loop:

“We love working with some of our larger festivals, like C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza festival, because we’ve built up that relationship over time and the communication is excellent. They’re meeting with us regularly leading up to the event, we know exactly who to call if anything should come up and they’re letting us know right away if any changes may be needed. Whether it’s an additional stage needed or a full reconfiguration, they’re coming to us even in those brainstorming stages.”

Study up: “Our permit application and a resource guide are available online to help planners with some of the more introductory questions, but we also host workshop training sessions each year to cover everything they could need to know about the application, some common pitfalls and a nice refresher on anything that’s changed over the last year.”

JENNIFER JOHNSON WASHINGTON Director of Special Events for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

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S’CHUG

Industry Update HOTEL NEWS 38

PEOPLE NEWS 42

SNAPSHOTS 46

PEOPLE PROFILE 48

51%

predict plant-based meat alternatives will solidify their mainstream status in 2020 (no longer just a cult following) and we’ll see more plant-based takes on traditional meat dishes.

CULINARY

31%

of chefs say it’s no longer enough to have just one or two gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and keto options on the menu.

FOODIE TIME KIMPTON’S 2020 CULINARY & COCKTAILS TREND FORECAST IDENTIFIES THE F&B TRENDS TO WATCH THIS YEAR. Research courtesy of Kimpton Ho t e l s & R e s t a u r a n t s

One-hundred-thirty chefs, sommeliers, general managers and bartenders from 75-plus Kimpton

Levantine cuisine, including Israeli, Turkish and Lebanese, is predicted as the most influential style for menus in 2020, according to nearly 40% of chefs surveyed. S’chug, a Mediterranean hot sauce, and muhammara, a red pepper and walnut spread found in Turkish and Levantine dishes, topped the list for spreads and sauces in this year’s forecast.

Schmaltz, or rendered chicken or goose fat, will also be trending in 2020, according to a quarter of Kimpton chefs. Keep an eye out for schmaltz croutons accompanying roasted chicken dishes, and schmaltz as the new olive oil for dipping baked bread.

30%

of chefs predicted vegetable tartare will be infiltrating restaurant menus in the New Year. TAMARIND

Ingredients with sour flavor profiles like rhubarb, tamarind and vinegar will grow in popularity, with nearly 23% of chefs selecting sour as their favorite experimental flavor. Chefs also noted that funky flavors will make their way into breakfast staples, including licorice and salty syrups and savory oatmeal made with bone broth.

dishes, flavors, ingredients and philosophies that will be explored in 2020. Below are a handful of the findings; read the full report at kimptonhotels.com/culinary-trends.

Unusual seeds like lotus, basil and water lily are predicted as one of the trendiest ingredients according to 31% of chefs surveyed.

RHUBARB

I L L U S T R AT I O N S : T R A C I Z E L L M A N N

restaurants and bars reveal the

LOTUS SEEDS

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INFOGRAPHIC HAZY IPA

WHISKY HIGHBALL

COFFEE SPRITZ

SPICE SACHETS IN COCKTAILS

GROWN-UP SUNDAE, SAVORY DESSERT ITEMS

Liquor “Grown-up sundaes” using locally sourced, often unexpected ingredients will be one of the top dessert trends, according to 1 in 5 chefs.

I L L U S T R AT I O N S : T R A C I Z E L L M A N N

Savory items will be featured more prominently in desserts— expect to see unique savory-meets-sweet pairings like black pepper or sesame ice cream and truffle macarons. Veganism will influence dessert menus as well, as 47% of respondents highlighted vegan desserts as the strongest sweettooth trend for 2020. Try it in lemon tarts made with cashews, coconut and lemon zest or vegan chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.

Aromatic (inedible) garnishes were cited as one of the up-and-coming trends bartenders are most excited to experiment with in 2020. Examples include spice sachets with cloves and allspice, burning sticks of wood or even absorbent, scented squares of paper clipped to glassware. Influences from Mediterranean regions will shape bar menus according to 46% of respondents—we’ll see light, refreshing, often low-alcohol spritzes all over bar menus in 2020. These lower sugar, crisper cocktails are the next evolution of the Spanish gin and tonic.

More than a quarter of bartenders are most excited about sour beers in the year ahead, followed by hazy or juicy IPAs and high alcohol kombuchas as a beer alternative. Next year’s biggest wine trend will be the emergence of more natural wines, or wines farmed organically without adding or removing anything in the cellar. Orange wines and pét-nat sparkling wines are also becoming more popular with wine aficionados.

Expect to see the rise of alternativegrain spirits like baiju, shōchū and soju, spirits that originated in China, Japan and Korea, respectively. Whisky highballs— a trend largely driven by the popularity of lighter Japanese whiskies—are predicted to gain a cult following next year, followed closely by spiked seltzers and the return of the paloma. Mezcal will continue to dominate in 2020, with more than a third of respondents choosing it as the predicted spirit of choice next year. Bartenders are having fun with the smoky spirit and using it to reimagine traditional cocktails.

NONALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES Many experts are predicting coffee spritzes as the hot (cold) drink of 2020. The other top coffee trends for 2020 include nitro coffee on tap, cold brew alternatives and CBD coffee. Botanical-infused sparkling drinks are cited as the nonalcoholic trend bartenders will most likely experiment with, followed up by alcohol-free spirits and upleveled teas with exotic fruit flavors like guanabana, lulo and passion fruit. Some 42% of bartenders surveyed are excited to embrace the noalcohol culture as part of their overall bar experience in the year ahead.

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Epiphany Center

REGIONAL NEWS

ASSOCIATION NEWS»

The International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Midwestern Chapter has been awarded the Most Engaged Chapter of the Year Award for the second year in a row. Consisting of over 1,400 members throughout the Midwest including Illinois, Northwest Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, the IAEE Midwestern Chapter organizes 20 events annually featuring both educational sessions and networking meetups. The chapter is committed to providing dynamic educational programs and events, networking, leadership and marketing opportunities for people committed to the exhibition and events industry. “We have an incredibly passionate chapter and I’m so fortunate to be a part of it,” says CAE, CEM, 2019 IAEE Midwestern Chapter Chair Jean Heis. “This award represents the hard work of our board members, committee chairs and volunteers spread across several states.”

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Z BAR

VENUE NEWS»

Z BAR at The Peninsula Chicago Named One of World’s Best World-renowned global luxury hotel rating system Forbes Travel Guide (FTG) has named Z Bar at The Peninsula Chicago among only 44 other venues to its verified list of 2019’s World’s Best Hotel Bars. The 2019 list honored bars across 13 countries that performed exceptionally on standards related to the quality of their beverage program, their presentation and their luxurious service. Each bar was meticulously inspected and scored using criteria such as elements of luxury standards, including a special level of attention to detail and food and beverage quality. Bars honored also demonstrated the technical aptitude of their staff. Z Bar, The Peninsula Chicago’s recently opened rooftop lounge featuring city views and globallyinspired cocktails, was Chicago’s only venue to earn the accolade. “We’ve seen hotel bars evolve enormously in our 60-plus years of operating Forbes Travel Guide, hence the focus of our fourth Verified List,” says Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide. “Hotel bars are now destinations in their own right and have the ability to transform a hotel experience.”

Iconic Chicago Landmark Opens As New Multiuse Venue A new multispace, multidimensional event venue with a mission to instill an artistic and cultural experience, has opened in Chicago’s West Loop.

The former historic Church of the Epiphany, which recently underwent a $15 million dollar transformation, recently opened as the Epiphany Center for the Arts. Originally built in 1885 and designated as a Chicago landmark, the 42,000-square-foot center was carefully preserved by Chicago developer David Chase and Kimberly Rachal and now offers three distinct event spaces, a café, a catering kitchen, a VIP suite, an outdoor patio and an artistically landscaped courtyard in addition to its ancillary spaces to support the visual, performing and culinary arts. Epiphany’s facilities also include resident artist studios, an expansive exhibit space and its own gallery featuring work from artists around the country. “This one-of-a-kind space for art activations and events will be a great addition to the West Loop, bringing the area a major cultural attraction and employment opportunities. Our organization looks forward to hosting community events at Epiphany Center for the Arts,” says Roderick Burch, executive director of the West Central Association. The Center’s Chase House space, a modern loft-style venue, boasts a chef’s showcase kitchen, while The Sanctuary features vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, antique chandeliers and a built-in stage. Both The Sanctuary and the center’s Epiphany Hall will serve the performing arts. The center can accommodate corporate events, social events, weddings, product launches, film and photo shoots.

P H OTO S : G R A N T K E S S L E R ; N E I L J O H N B U R G E R ; E P I P H A N Y C E N T E R F O R T H E A R T S

IAE E M I DWE ST CHAP TE R WI N S M OST E N GAG E D

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P H OTO S : G R A N T K E S S L E R ; N E I L J O H N B U R G E R ; E P I P H A N Y C E N T E R F O R T H E A R T S


REGIONAL NEWS

HOTEL NEWS»

The Rose Hotel Chicago/ O’Hare receives Hilton Legacy Award

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F&B NEWS»

D I N E AM IC H OS P ITALIT Y L AU N CH E S N E W C ATE R I N G B U S I N E S S

DineAmic Hospitality has launched a new business venture, DineAmic Catering, a fullservice catering business. “Our mission is to deliver an unparalleled level of food and service that goes beyond what traditional caterers are able to provide,” says DineAmic Hospitality Principal and Partner David Rekhson. “Being a restaurant hospitality company first, we are able to achieve award-winning restaurant-quality standards in a catering application.” Prior to the launch of its new branch, DineAmic catered smaller parties and larger on-site events at Builders BLDG, the company’s private event space. The new catering team is capable of serving everything from corporate lunches for 25 to galas for 2,500. The company’s new catering menu was developed with progressive concepts in mind and can be curated to each client’s personal preferences. Powered by some of Chicago’s top restaurant’s and Top Chef alums like Fabio Viviani and Katsuji Tanabe, DineAmic Catering offers a diverse range of cuisine, from truffle gnocchi to all-natural steaks and from-scratch Mexican dishes. DineAmic can accommodate dietary and off-menu requests and plans to offer interactive, entertaining and personalized activations, from taco bars and carving stations to seafood towers and multicourse, wine-paired dinners to elevate any event.

P H O T O S : V I S I O N Q U E S T M E D I A ; D I N E A M I C H O S P I TA L I T Y

Opened in November 2018 as Rosemont’s first boutique hotel, The Rose Hotel Chicago/O’Hare, Tapestry Collection by Hilton has been recognized with a 2018 Hilton Legacy Award for New Build. The Legacy Awards program recognizes the passion, creativity and innovative spirit of Hilton’s partners who are committed to quality guest experiences and celebrates contributions to an outstanding year of growth. Hilton honored nearly 60 highperforming owners and developers. “We are beyond grateful to be recipients of this Hilton Legacy Award,” says Gary Janko, founder and CEO of Janko Group. “As the first Tapestry Collection hotel to be built from the ground up, we have a lot to be proud of at The Rose Hotel Chicago/ O’Hare, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, and this award is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of our amazing staff, design, construction and ownership teams in bringing this property to life.” The 165-room property, located in Rosemont’s recently developed Pearl District adjacent to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, offers highly personalized service and features 6,000 square feet of flexible event space, a signature restaurant and bar and a state-of-the-art fitness center, all curated with the help of The Gettys Group, DLR Group and Power Construction.

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P H O T O S : V I S I O N Q U E S T M E D I A ; D I N E A M I C H O S P I TA L I T Y

CHECK IN

AMWAY GRAND PLAZA, CURIO COLLECTION BY HILTON

CHECK OUT

RESERVE WINE AND FOOD

MEETING DESTINATION — CHECK. Check in to one of our uniquely spirited hotels — with each one offering a different vibe, style, flavor, focus, and capability to fit your meeting needs, wants, and gotta-have-its. Check out the surrounding area and you’ll be amazed by the sheer number of opportunities to get your groove on, whatever it is; museums, music, art, theater, the symphony, a proper cocktail, fine-dining, or fun dining. Your meeting destination mystery, solved. Call us, let’s plan. hoteldistrictgr.com | @hoteldistrictgr | 616.776.6400

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REGIONAL NEWS

BMW Championship

TOURISM NEWS»

2019 BMW Championship Delivers Big Win For DuPage County

In partnership with the Western Golf Association and the Medinah Country Club, the DuPage Sports Commission has released its 2019 BWM Championship Economic Impact Report, revealing the event to be the county’s most significant that year. The event, which returned to the Medinah Country Club for the first time since 1966, welcomed an estimated 133,000 spectators and approximately 30,000 travelers who contributed an estimated $19.5 million in new spending to DuPage and the surrounding region. Identified through the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau’s strategic plan, sports tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry, offering growth in DuPage for visitation. Sports tourism has been identified as a key initiative of the DuPage Coalition for Tourism’s new 650 Challenge (a plan to protect and grow DuPage’s economy). “DuPage has a rich tradition of sports, and Medinah Country Club represents a significant part of DuPage’s sports tourism history and its future,” says Beth Marchetti, executive director, DuPage CVB/DuPage Sports Commission. “The BMW Championship is a perfect example of how sports provide economic, social and community-based benefits to DuPage County. When tourism thrives, so does business.”

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In partnership with USA Wrestling, the country’s national governing body of wrestling, and the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF), the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) has won its bid to host the 2020-21 USA Wrestling 16U National Dual Championships for the following two years. The events will be held at the Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two in Loves Park, marking the first-time USA Wrestling will host a national event in the Rockford region. The events will be co-hosted by IKWF and RACVB. “The RACVB is thrilled to partner with USA Wrestling and the IKWF for the 2020 and 2021 16U National Duals. We are, of course, ecstatic to help deliver a memorable experience for thousands of visitors to the Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two. Because of IKWF’s decades-long commitment to Rockford, RACVB is able to position the region as a destination for prestigious national events,” says Nick Povalitis, RACVB vice president of marketing & sports development. With athletes, coaches and families combined, the 16U National Duals are expected to draw more than 4,000 total visitors to the region each year. Over the two-year commitment, tourism economic impact is projected to total more than $3.1 million for the region due to visitor spends in transportation, retail, food and beverage, lodging, recreation, business services and space rental segments. “We are excited to welcome wrestlers to the facility for the first time and provide an outstanding experience to each athlete and their family,” says Louis Mateus, general manager of Mercyhealth Sportscore Complexes. “The Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two is a versatile venue, and Field 3 is the perfect location for such a prestigious sporting event.”

P H O T O : D U PA G E C O U N T Y C V B

IKWF and RACVB Secure TwoYear National Bid

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P H O T O : D U PA G E C O U N T Y C V B


REGIONAL NEWS

RENOVATIONS»

After undergoing a multimillion-dollar topto-bottom renovation and complete rebrand, Autograph Collection hotels debuted The Drake Oak Brook as an essentially new hotel. Originally opened in the 1960s, the 154room four-story vintage inspired landmark, which became a hotspot for celebrities and royalty, pays homage to past guests ranging from Prince Charles to Arnold Palmer and infuses its vibrant past with amenities designed for the modern traveler. Located just 20 minutes from Chicago’s city center, the property (dubbed an elegant social club) features an intricate design including a total of 12 meeting rooms spanning over

PEOPLE NEWS»

New Executive Chef and Executive Pastry Chef Join LondonHouse Chicago Team LondonHouse Chicago has appointed Elizabeth Sweeney as its executive chef and Thomas Gorczyca as executive pastry chef. Originally from North Dakota, Sweeney began her culinary career studying at the Western Culinary Institute, the University of NebraskaLincoln and Roosevelt University in Chicago, achieving a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism management. Sweeney has worked as an executive chef and catering chef throughout the Chicagoland area and worked most recently as the chef de cuisine at Merriman’s Hawaii. Sweeney has returned to Chicago to lead the LondonHouse culinary team utilizing local, seasonal ingredients. “We are so pleased to have chef Sweeney on

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22,000 square feet of indoor space and 34,000 square feet of gardens, a retro-themed bar with a gramophone record player and vintage

vinyls on hand, a lounge inspired by Frank Sinatra, a fireplace library featuring past presidents’ favorite titles, a fitness center and more.

our team to bring her creativity and leadership in the kitchen to the hotel,” says LondonHouse Chicago Director of Food and Beverage John Belter. “We are excited to have her in this role, where she can enrich the legendary guest experiences we are known for.” As a Philadelphia native, Gorczyca attended Baltimore International College. He has won a wide variety of awards, including the People’s Choice Award at the World of Chocolate Gala in 2015 and 2016, First Place for Tastiest Cake at Hershey Chocolate Fest 2008, and more. “The LondonHouse culinary team is proud to welcome pastry chef Gorczyca,” says Belter. “We look forward to introducing his original creations to our guests throughout the hotel establishments.” Sweeney and Gorczyca will work side by side to create reimagined dishes and pastries for guests to savor at two LondonHouse establishments: LH Rooftop—the hotel’s tri-level rooftop bar and restaurant on floors 21, 22 and 23, and Bridges, LondonHouse Chicago’s mezzanine-level lobby lounge where guests can enjoy the hotel’s afternoon tea service, allday menu and more.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park Appoints New Executive Chef Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park has appointed William Schultz as its new executive chef. Schultz most recently served as senior sous chef for the Fairmont Austin and first began his culinary career working at iconic hospitality venues including Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and The Mirage. In his new role, Schultz will oversee all culinary teams and efforts at Fairmont Chicago, including Columbus Tap, the lobby bar, inroom dining and special event and banquet culinary operations. The Mississippi native will also draw from his Southern roots in the debut of two fresh menus, fusing local ingredients with Southern flair in classic southern dishes like chicken and waffles, braised collards topped with Lincoln Park honey butter and tropical beignets topped with pineapple jam and toasted cashews.

P H OTO : T H E D R A K E OA K B R O O K

Complete Renovation Unveils A New Hotel

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P H OTO : T H E D R A K E OA K B R O O K

SUSTAINABLY MINDED MEETINGS AT NYC’S CLOSEST RESORT • POWERED BY THE NORTHEAST’S LARGEST RESORT BASED SOLAR FIELD • ONLY 1 HOUR FROM THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE • 130 LOCALLY SOURCED MENU INGREDIENTS • SUSTAINABLY THEMED TEAMBUILDING & EDUCATIONAL GROUP ACTIVITIES • 100,000 SQ. FT. OF UNIQUE INDOOR/OUTDOOR MEETING & CATERING SPACE 877.512.3280 | TheCrystalSpringsResort.com | Sussex County, New Jersey

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REGIONAL NEWS

First Hospitality Names New Appointees Hotel management, acquisition, development and consulting firm First Hospitality has announced the appointment of Marcus Wilson to general manager and Julie Panzella to director of sales of Homewood Suites by Hilton Orland Park. First Hospitality assumed management of Homewood Suites in August and Wilson and Panzella, who previously held positions with First Hospitality, have been promoted to oversee the company’s recent addition. Wilson started his career at First Hospitality as a breakfast host at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown Chicago and has worked his way up to hold various leadership roles within the company. Wilson will oversee the day-today operations of Homewood Suites and leads sales, marketing and revenue strategies in his new role. Panzella, who previously worked as the sales coordinator for First Hospitality’s newly opened Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Bridgeview, also has sales and management experience working with Hilton properties in downtown Chicago, including Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago-Downtown, where she was named employee of the year. Panzella will be responsible for proactive sales and revenue generation with a focus on business transient, corporate group, leisure group, and extended stay business for Homewood Suites Orland Park. First Hospitality has also appointed Ray Nugent as director of renovations and facilities. Over a 25-year career Nugent has directed over $1 billion in governmental, commercial, and residential construction projects with a proven track record of success in the hospitality industry as director of facilities for Bellagio Resort Las Vegas. Nugent previously served as assistant director of facility operations for Fox Valley Park District, the second largest park district in Illinois, where he managed all facility maintenance and

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construction for three community centers. In his new role Nugent will be responsible for executing First Hospitality’s renovation program, property improvement plan, and new developments. He also manages the facility and engineering support teams and assists new and existing properties.

Arbor Lodging Appoints New Advisory Board Member Chicago-based hotel investment and management company Arbor Lodging has announced the appointment of new advisory board member Robert Lowe Jr., co-CEO of Lowe, a leading national real estate investment, development and management firm. Lowe Jr. received a bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University and earned an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. As co-CEO, Lowe Jr. is responsible for more than $8.5 billion of commercial, hospitality and residential assets, as well as more than $3 billion in commercial real estate projects in the pipeline or under development. He has been an industry leader over the past 31 years, developing, acquiring and managing real estate assets nationwide, while creating innovative, lasting environments and meaningful experiences that connect people and places. Arbor Lodging’s hotel investment and hotel management platform now owns 25 full-service and select-service hotels throughout the United States. The portfolio consists of a range of hotels under brands such as Curio Collection by Hilton, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Residence Inn, Homewood Suites and more.

Bar Biscay and mfk. Restaurants Promote New Executive Chef At just 26, Alisha Elenz has been promoted to executive chef and partner of mfk. and its sister restaurant, Bar Biscay. Elenz started at mfk. (a Michelin Bib Gourmand

recipient) serving bold, flavorful Spanishinfluenced dishes in 2015 as a part-time prep cook and has worked her way up the ranks. She was promoted to executive chef in December 2017. Since then, Elenz has won the Jean Banchet Award for Rising Star Chef, was one of Crain’s Chicago Business’s 20 in Their 20s honorees and was a finalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award. Fresh off a trip to Spain, Elenz brings a wealth of ideas and inspiration she plans to incorporate in the future as she develops the menu at Bar Biscay, which is rooted in dishes reflecting the simple style of the Basque region. “I have so many ideas for where we can take the menu at Bar Biscay,” says Elenz. “Our kitchen size at mfk. dictated much of what we could do, so the expansive open kitchen (and walk-in!) here is exciting to get to work with. I’m thrilled to take on this new challenge and journey.”

SOPHY Hyde Park Appoints Executive Chef Matthew Cappellini has been appointed executive chef of Mesler Kitchen | Bar | Lounge at SOPHY Hyde Park. Cappellini previously served as the executive chef at Le Meridien Oak Brook and at Trump International Hotel Chicago’s Sixteen restaurant. The American Culinary Federation member has also previously worked at the University of Notre Dame’s Morris Inn and Harrah’s Joliet Chicago Hotel and Casino. Cappellini will gradually introduce a range of international flavors to the menus at Mesler, which is a concept he explored during his time at Sixteen. “That cuisine had a wonderful earthiness and we’d like to introduce people in the Hyde Park area to new flavors that they might have needed to go downtown to find,” Cappellini says. “Mesler means ‘mix and mingle,’ and that’s what I’ll be doing more of at the restaurant.”

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SNAPSHOTS CELEBRITY CHEF BALL 2019

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Celebrity Chef Ball 2019

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1. Anne and Mike Mucha. 2. Andrew and John Landan. 3. Chris and Noel Dolan. 4. Terrace 16 executive chef Andres Farias crafted a roasted baby beet salad for the occasion. 5. Chad Lewis, Anne Lewis, Devin Muntz and Kayleigh Muntz. 6. Nehal Patel, Malisa Patel and Harit Bhatt. 7. Jason Strahan, Do Yong, Julie Stibich and Mike Stibich. 8. Margaret McSweeney, Ina Pinkney and Jaime Laurita. 9. Natalie Hilvert, Jess Levine and Ana Plefka.

SUBMIT YOUR EVENT PHOTOS To have your meeting or event photos featured here, contact the editor at megan.gosch@tigeroak.com.

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On Nov. 8, nearly 800 culinary masters, mixologists, foodies and Meals on Wheels Chicago supporters gathered to celebrate food and philanthropy at the organization’s Celebrity Chef Ball 2019. Morgan Manufacturing set the scene for two events in one: an intimate VIP dining experience that paired attendee groups with top chefs like CJ Jacobson of Aba and Ema, and Erling Wu-Bower of Pacific Standard Time to enjoy a sixcourse meal, and a reception-style Chef’s Tasting Party where guests mixed and mingled with noted chefs while sampling their way through chef-driven food stations and one-of-a-kind cocktail experiences. Restaurant industry veteran and longtime Meals on Wheels supporter Ina Pinkney was honored with the 2019 Chef’s Council Award, and by the end of the night the organization had surpassed its fundraising goal, raising enough to fund the delivery of over 100,000 meals to those in need.

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Jack


PEOPLE PROFILE RITA DENVER

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Rita Dever may just be one of Chicago’s most influential chefs you’ve never heard of. BY MEGAN GOSCH

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ou may not have seen her name among Chicago’s James Beard award nominees or caught in the buzz of another trendy eatery opening, but the ripples of Rita Dever’s culinary creations have made an impact far and wide. After cooking around the world, the Pacific Northwest native put down roots as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ (LEYE) associate partner and corporate chef where she collaborates in the company’s test kitchen to innovate new dishes for all LEYE restaurants.

You’ve traveled quite a bit as a chef, opening restaurants in Los Angeles, Maui, New York and Seattle with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. How have those experiences influenced your cooking? The [Four Seasons] have high standards for quality, which was reflected in their ingredients. Because I was crisscrossing the country, I was influenced by many populations—Hispanic, Asian, European cuisines, etc.—which came in handy when I began working with Lettuce where all of these populations are reflected in our concepts and menus. How did you land in Chicago? I’d worked with Four Seasons chef Susan Weaver, who later came to work with Lettuce and referred me when (founding

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partner) Rich Melman was looking for a corporate test kitchen chef. He flew me out from Seattle to do a tasting and things just clicked! I put the Space Needle in my rearview mirror and never looked backed.

and pastry that I’m never bored. You get both the joy and challenge of creating new dishes every day which, keeps things interesting. And keeping up with Rich is quite impossible, but it is fun to try!

What does your role entail? What do you enjoy most about your work? In the Corporate Kitchen, we work to create the partners’ visions, new concepts and support LEYE restaurants with recipe development. We do daily tastings for Rich and send out those that were approved. Some are strikes, some are home runs, but they all generate conversation and often new ideas. We also have time to develop, test and present our own ideas. You never know what will become a concept, but I’m lucky to work with so many types of cuisine

Where do you find inspiration for new dishes? Inspiration comes first and foremost from Rich, then magazines, cookbooks, competitive dining, other chefs and the internet. Trends are very important to restaurants— you just like to start them or be at the forefront, never at the end. Often our guests are also telling us what interests them. We are still focusing on healthy trends and realizing how strong vegan and vegetarianism has picked up, as well as alternative milk. leye.com

I L L U S T R AT I O N : T R A C I Z E L L M A N N

What set you on your career path? I had always loved to cook, but had no intention of becoming a chef. I worked for a telephone company for 10 years and when Ma Bell became Baby Bells it allowed me to cash out and make a career U-turn, heading off to culinary school in Paris. Turns out the breaking up of a phone monopoly changed the trajectory of my life.

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