Tortoise Club to come out of its shell next spring
Loop North News

The Sterling Room LLC

(Above) Rendering of the main entrance to Tortoise Club, a restaurant that will open at Marina City next spring. (Click on image to view larger version.)

Tortoise Club to come out of its shell next spring

22-Nov-11 – The owner of a new restaurant coming to Marina City next year promises a very “neighborhood” place but keep in mind the neighborhood is becoming increasingly upscale.

Trump International Hotel & Tower in 2009. The celebrity-friendly Public House in 2010. Museum of Broadcast Communications in 2011. Langham Chicago Hotel in 2012. The development of the 300 blocks of North State Street and nearby Wabash Avenue has been with an affluent consumer in mind.

Now Tortoise Club hopes to fit in with a restaurant that will celebrate Chicago but aspire to be like the luxurious 21 Club in midtown Manhattan. Or the celebrated-but-closed Crickets that opened in The Tremont Chicago Hotel in the mid 1970s.

21 Club

(Above) The famous bar room at “21.” (Image provided by 21 Club.)

Keene Addington, the former CEO of Flat Top Grill, says depending on permits and construction, “we are shooting for a late spring opening.”

Drawn to what he calls the “classic Chicago buildings” of Marina City, Addington signed a lease in “very early November” for a street-level space at 350 North State Street, on the east end of Hotel Sax. The space has been vacant for more than three years since Crunch closed its fitness facility on July 31, 2008, after nine years at Marina City.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

“Marina City has a long, truly great Chicago history,” Addington told Marina City Online on Tuesday, “and for us to be a part of that, it’s very exciting to us. And we are really looking forward to working with the residents.”

(Left) The east side of the building at Marina City where Hotel Sax is located, photographed in April. Tortoise Club will move into the lower-level space seen in this photo with a purple awning leftover from when it was a Crunch fitness center. (Click on image to view larger version.)

A company called The Sterling Room LLC, doing business as Tortoise Club, applied for a liquor license on November 4. So far, no building permits for the space have been approved.

“Being in the classic, fantastic complex like Marina City was very appealing to us,” he said. “And then couple that with being on State Street which is busy, two-way traffic and arguably the most recognizable street name in Chicago. I mean, the location was perfect for us.”

Addington purchased the entire vintage mahogany from the Pump Room restaurant in the nearby Gold Coast neighborhood. The décor at Tortoise Club will include artifacts of Chicago’s history such as old portraits and ballot boxes.

The name of the restaurant, says Addington, is inspired by the land-dwelling reptile and took about six months to come up with. Eventually, they were reminded of qualities of the tortoise such as “longevity, consistency, very stable, timeless, classic. A lot of the things that the tortoise represents completely fit with what we were doing.”

Keene Addington

Addington (left) was founder and CEO of Flat Top Grill until it merged in 2009 with Stir Crazy, a larger restaurant chain based in Chicago. He then took a year off to plan Tortoise Club, “the kind of place my wife and I want to go to ourselves.”

He now says he is looking forward to making the transition from CEO to restaurateur. “Being a CEO of a 15-unit restaurant chain – although it’s not a huge company, it’s very different than running your own restaurant.”

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | Published 22-Nov-11 8:03 PM

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