Chicago Athletic Association: Cindy’s, Shake Shack, Cherry Circle

Chicago Athletic Association: Cindy’s, Shake Shack, Cherry Circle
Chicago Athletic Association exterior. Photo: Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune

The historic Chicago Athletic Association is ready for its close-up. The totally restored 122 year old Venetian Gothic building originally designed by Henry Ives Cobb has done a magnificent job of preserving its past while adding a modern flair—combining the best of both worlds.

The original eleven story building, located across from Millennium Park at 12 South Michigan Avenue, was operated as an exclusive men’s club from 1893 through 2007 when it was closed with its fate uncertain.

In 2012, through the efforts of a lot of determined and monied people including John Pritzker and Chicago-based Agman Partners, the renovation began.

Chicago’s Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture was in charge of the major renovation while New York's Roman and Williams—whose principals Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch once designed sets for Hollywood films—designed the building's interior.

Three years, and many millions of dollars later, their efforts are being unveiled  today.

Highlights include:

The Hotel.  A 241 room hotel featuring elegantly outfitted rooms with rates starting at $385 a night.


The magnificent architecture surrounds from floor to ceiling. Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune

Shake Shack. A ground floor Shake Shack (Chicago’s second Shake Shack location) that begs the question  “Where else can you chow down on burgers and crinkle cuts surrounded by stained glass, soaring ceilings, detailed millwork, and marble staircases?”—not to mention a view from the outdoor patio overlooking Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute, and the Bean.

The CAA Shack gives a nod to local purveyors with menu items from Publican Sausage, Vosges, Intelligentsia coffee, Glazed & Infused, Bang Bang Pie and local brews including Bell’s Brewery Oberon Ale, Goose Island 312 and Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA, and PBR.


CAA Shake Shack

Bars and Restaurants. The CAA offers a group of clubby bars and restaurants that incorporate menu items and cocktails paying tribute to the past along with trendy items looking toward the future. A who's who of Chicago's finest restaurant groups and names are involved. Here's the line-up:

  • The intimate Milk Room features a unique mix of cocktails, along with a daytime menu featuring coffee and pastries.
  • The Game Room has billiards, a bocce court, shuffleboard and other games along with a menu of classics, like old fashioneds, cobblers and more.
  • The Drawing Room will offer the same menu as The Game Room.
  • The Cherry Circle Room, run by Land & Sea Dept. (Longman & Eagle), beverage director Paul McGee (Three Dots and a Dash), and chef Peter Coenen (The Gage) is the main restaurant that will serve menus items dating back to the 1890s with a focus on French and American wines. Cherry Circle Room is accepting reservations beginning June 5; walk-in only until then.  844-312-2221.
  • The hotel's bars and restaurants are crowned by a magnificent rooftop space, called Cindy’s—named after Pritzker's mother Cindy.  The indoor/outdoor setting has a beach-house feel with picnic-style seating. The menu features light summery fare (by ex-NoMI chef Christian Ragano). The space overlooks Millennium Park, the lake and Chicago's magnificent skyline.

For hotel reservations and information, click here.

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