A Familiar Name Returns to Gold Coast Hospitality

Sometimes things are better just left alone.  Is Marshall Field’s better now that it’s Macy’s?  Are White Hen Pantries better now that they’re 7-Elevens?  Is First Chicago better now that it’s Chase?  The answer to all three is “no.” (Seriously, Chase’s web site goes down more often than a West Virginia coal miner.) But it’s hard for big corporations to admit that things should be returned to the way they were.

Not so at Journal Hotels, which is bringing the Ambassador Chicago name back to the now-recently-former PUBLIC Hotel at 1301 North State Parkway in a very leafy section of the Gold Coast.   It’s not quite the full “Ambassador East” treatment, but in corporate names and Chicago sidewalk cornhole, “close” is sometimes good enough.

The Ambassador Chicago Hotel, formerly the Ambassador East

The Ambassador Chicago Hotel, formerly the Ambassador East

The Ambassador Chicago is one of those names that survived six wars, two Mayors Daley, and Disco Demolition.    If you were a patron of the old Jazz Record Mart on Illinois Street, you might have gotten lucky and found a swing album or two recorded and autographed in the Ambassador’s ballroom where everyone from nobodies to Frank Sinatra have crooned into oversized ribbon microphones.   With the possible exception of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, Judy Garland didn’t sing about another hostelry.

We’ll meet at the Pump Room
Ambassador East
To say the least

On shish kebab
and breast of squab we will feast
And get fleeced.

Whether guests will get a chance to feast on squab at the Pump Room once again remains to be seen.  The former Pump Room is no longer named such. But Lettuce Entertain You is expected to relaunch the restaurant in a few months under unknown branding.  Perhaps the new management will invite Phil Collins to the grand opening.

Press release follows.

CHICAGO /PRNewswire/ — Journal Hotels, a management company, today announced the debut of Ambassador Chicago restoring the legendary property to its historic identity. Built in 1926, Ambassador Chicago draws inspiration from the city’s Golden Age, having served as a local mainstay to celebrity icons such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. With deep historical roots in the Windy City, Ambassador Chicago will pay homage to the city’s storied past through thoughtful programming and elegant design.

Nestled within the illustrious Gold Coast neighborhood, Ambassador Chicago offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan with easy access to Chicago’s main shopping boulevard, Michigan Avenue. The property features 285 spacious guestrooms, a 24-hour fitness center, two restaurants, local programming and amenities curated by Chicago-based artisans and chefs, in-room dining and other luxury comforts. Attached to the hotel is a legendary restaurant having served as a celebrity favorite during the Jazz Age, which is currently being reconfigured by Lettuce Entertain You Group to introduce invigorating, innovative design and cuisine concepts that play up the glamorous history of the space while simultaneously infusing modernity into the venue.

Taking cues from its early nineteenth century art-deco design, the property celebrates Chicago’s vibrant history reflected in the intricate design details such as vaulted ceilings and original crown moldings, providing a unique environment for rotating exhibitions of contemporary art. Glass doorknobs, original mail-chutes, and ornate wrought iron juxtapose against modern furnishings and art installations of painting, photography and sculpture serve as reminders of Chicago’s cultural presence and the hotel’s rich past resulting in a contemporary, chic vibe.

“We’re thrilled to add a legendary hotel such as Ambassador Chicago to our portfolio,” said Stephen Brandman, Chief Executive Officer at Journal Hotels. “The rebranding will return an iconic Chicago property back to its roots through creative activations and allow Journal to not only grow in a critical market, but continue to celebrate iconic spaces that invite discovery.”

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises will be returning to this historic location to work with the Journal Hotels to operate all food and beverage in the new Ambassador Hotel. From the re-concept of the restaurant, which is projected to open late fall 2017, to creating new menus for room service, catering and private events and the lobby bar, Lettuce is excited to serve the Ambassador guests and Gold Coast neighborhood. The restaurant group previously ran the space from July 1976 – January 1998.

“Lettuce has a lot of history at this location. Our first restaurant here was exciting and so much fun that I’m thrilled to be doing it again in a more modern way,” says Rich Melman, Founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.

Ambassador Chicago will join Journal’s collection of hotels which includes The Hollywood Roosevelt, Two Bunch Palms and Hotel G as part of Journal’s rapidly expanding portfolio of storied hotels rich in cultural tradition and steeped in history. As with all hotels in the portfolio, Ambassador Chicago will maintain its distinct character while providing guests a truly memorable stay and authentic Chicago experience.

Journal Hotels is a collection of iconic properties including The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles, Hotel G in San Francisco and Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs. As a partnership between GCPH, the Chang Family and Stephen Brandman, Journal Hotels distinguishes itself by combining exceptional hotel management with a creative and independent approach. With properties rich in culture and steeped in history, each hotel has a distinct character that invites discovery and enables guests to stay storied.

With a rich history rooted in Chicago’s Jazz Age, Ambassador Chicago is the city’s original boutique hotel dating back to 1926. Located in the heart of the Gold Coast, the iconic property has hosted the who’s who of the 20th and 21st centuries having served as a local beacon to countless celebrities. Uniquely individual, Ambassador Chicago is nestled among graceful mansions in a quiet, gilded neighborhood tucked into the center of the Windy City offering incredible views of Lake Michigan with easy access to Chicago’s main shopping boulevard, Michigan Avenue. With 285 spacious guestrooms, a 24-hour fitness center, two restaurants, thoughtful programming and amenities curated by local artisans and chefs, Ambassador Chicago maintains its distinct and legendary character while offering guests an authentic Chicago experience.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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