Langham plaza café will target humble locals
Loop North News

HOTELS & RESTAURANTS

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Above) South plaza of AMA Plaza on Friday, where The Langham will build an outdoor café in May. The hotel’s main entrance is at right on the east side of the building. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

Langham plaza café will target humble locals

5-Apr-14 – You will have to sneak in your own caviar at an outdoor café The Langham will soon build on the south side of River North’s AMA Plaza. Opening in mid-May, the café, called Elle, will target the shorts and sandals crowd. Four types of Mediterranean tacos will be served and they will cost three dollars each.

Tim Graham “We really don’t want to pull from our demographic here,” says The Langham’s executive chef, Tim Graham (left), referring to the hotel’s more upscale restaurant, Travelle. “We certainly don’t want to hurt Peter to pay Paul outside.”

Graham expects Elle to attract tourists but mostly people who live or work in the neighborhood, such as 28-to-45-year-olds out for lunch.

Open six days a week, the café will seat 70 people in lounge furniture, dining tables, and casual high-top tables. The menu will include salads and desserts but what they are really excited about at The Langham is the punch.

Guests will select a punch flavor from see-through coolers on the plaza along with a beverage such as champagne. When the punch is served in a separate container, an entire bottle of champagne will be poured into the punch.

The service will be offered mainly in the evening. Says Graham, “I doubt we’ll do any daytime ones unless you have a group of friends…off for the entire day.”

Graham has been with The Langham since February 2013. For eleven years, he was an executive chef with Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, including Tru.

The Langham (Left) New café seating in the middle of AMA Plaza’s south side that overlooks the Chicago River. State Street is at left and Wabash Avenue is at right.

This architectural plan includes a “new plaza sculpture” in the southeast corner of AMA Plaza. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks initially rejected eleven life-size bronze figures, standing under umbrellas, sculpted by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. The commission consented in December after The Langham agreed to move the installation closer to the river.

Langham hopes to go from zero to five stars

Open since August 12, 2013, Travelle has attracted the clientele it was hoping for, according to The Langham’s food and beverage director.

“Maybe a bit broader, actually, than we expected,” said Gaylord Lamy on Friday, “which is not a bad thing.”

Even when the hotel is at a lower occupancy, Lamy says Travelle still does well “because it’s starting to get more and more known from the locals.”

When The Langham soft-opened on July 10, 2013, on floors 2-13 of AMA Plaza, it was still on the leading edge of a hotel market in Chicago that many believe is now over-developed. The supply of hotel rooms in Chicago is expected to increase four percent this year. Despite the competitive landscape, The Langham’s goals remain lofty.

“There are three five-star [hotels] in Chicago. You have Trump, Peninsula, and Four Seasons. And we just want to become the fourth one,” aspires Lamy. “And if possible, the leader of the five-star market. In that sense, there’s not too much competition there but we’re up against some very well-established hotels.”

Forbes Travel Guide has not yet rated The Langham. Trump International Hotel & Tower is directly across Wabash Avenue. The Peninsula is nine blocks north and Four Seasons Hotel is 13 blocks north. Chicago has four four-star hotels.

(Below) Another view of the current plaza, looking toward Wabash Avenue.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

 Previous story: Langham officially checks in to AMA Plaza

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 5-Apr-14 2:24 AM

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