Chicago Readers: You Are Falling Down on Finding a Meetup Location

Dear readers,

I have booked a flight and prepaid for a hotel to hold a meetup in Chicago on Friday July 6.

However, if readers do not identify a suitable meetup venue, there will be no meetup and all of these expenditures of scare site funds will go down the drain.

The suggestions readers have made are of restaurants that would host us only on a private party basis or of room rental ideas. That means paying a room fee, choosing a menu with a set per person charge, etc. Similarly, booking a room and trying to organize an event from 800 miles away when I have no idea how many people will turn up isn’t viable either.

That’s not what a meetup is. A meetup is an informal gathering, typically in a bar, which means either at a bar (we’ve had good luck with Irish pubs) or a restaurant with a very large bar area.

I can’t identify a venue from here. If readers won’t rise to the occasion, I will have to cancel the meetup and the site will eat the cost. It will also mean that I will be much less inclined to do meetups that involve travel in the future. I can’t afford to throw money away.

I will be staying at 11 South LaSalle Street. Closer to the hotel is preferable but not necessary. The main criteria that a space be large enough to accommodate 35 to 50 people for drinks, that the noise level be tolerable, and that participants can mingle. Please provide any leads in the comments section.

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  1. Arizona Slim

    Come on, Chi-town people, organizing a meetup isn’t that difficult. Just use Yves’ post as your guide to identifying a suitable venue, then Just. Let. It. Happen.

    If anyone wants to contact me for hints on how to organize a meetup, use this site’s contact form. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. Here’s the link:

  2. Garrett

    On the Friday of 4th of July, my gut is that most everything will be readily available if not too touristy.

    I honestly think your best bet is Bar Louie underneath Marina Towers.
    It’s large, easy to get to, and can easily accommodate a group that size and will likely not charge a fee. I’m pretty sure that they’d be ecstatic to have you.

    Other places that are enormous and should be able to accommodate without charging a fee would be Old Crow Smokehouse and Moe’s Cantina in River North.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is the sort of suggestion I need! I though we should not have any problem given the date, but you can’t believe the ‘tude I got from the Marriott, which had been accommodating last year. I don’t mind a not too large deposit, but fees are another matter.


  3. DJG

    Just sent a ping to the Nine Muses on Halsted at Jackson in Greektown. It isn’t exactly downtown, but everyone in Chicago knows where Greektown is. It is close enough to Union Station and to the Loop elevated structure for transport.

    After a few Metaxas, we will solve all of the world’s problems. The food is good, too.

    I will let you know by e-mail if / when they ping back.

    Think of it as a tribute to Varoufakis…

    Anyone else have a connection to a restaurant in Greektown? They are about the largest downtown, aren’t too strarchy, have bars plus warrens of rooms…

  4. Jeff N

    Oh my goodness, I don’t even remember seeing an early warning for another Chicago get-together. I must have missed NC those days.
    What about that place we did last year? I thought that worked out great!
    I am cat sitting for my friend that night, maybe we can have the get-together at his house, haha!

  5. Grizziz

    I live on the Northside and do not drink and know that in Chicago 90% of the bars have TV,s showing sports.
    I looked on Yelp and came up with Kasey’s Tavern in Printers Row about 1 mile to the South of your hotel. There is good access to public transportation and parking is easier and cheaper than in the loop.
    I am happy to do some follow up if I can figure a head count.

  6. Jeff N

    The Olgilvie Metra station has a bar called “Chicago News Room”, it’s not the biggest but it has a lot of standing room. We could also overflow outside of the bar into the train station area, although security might hassle people holding liquor glasses outside of the bar area.
    Most of this bar’s customers buy their drinks “to go” and take them on the train (yes, the “Ocela class” is allowed to drink on the fancy trains from this station).
    Probably not that busy on a Friday night; most people just want to get home.

  7. darrell anderson

    The Palmer House has a gracious, spacy lobby with bar, nice and quiet usually, and not far from your hotel as well.

  8. Jeff Kinney

    I don’t live in Chicago anymore, but for an old school Chicago vibe consider Monk’s Pub or Miller’s Pub. Both are in the loop walking distance from your hotel. Miller’s has been re-modeled recently so I am not sure if it is still conducive to your needs. Monk’s would work just fine and a finer burger is hard to come by.

  9. JB

    I’ll offer the outdoor area at Clark Street Alehouse in River North. It can accommodate 30-50 people, and dogs are welcome.

    1. Jeff Kinney

      That is a good choice for this type of gathering and it is close to the two train stations.

  10. ChrisAtRU

    Well ,,, if all else fails, there’s the Congress Lounge at the Congress Plaza Hotel

    It’s where Roosevelt Econ students and a couple of their professors have been known to go for a post-micro-and-social-justice hangout … ;-)

    It’s about a mile from Yves hotel, so a 15 – 20 minute walk, sadly. But it’s seldom very busy and has enough space to accommodate 35 to 50, methinks.

  11. JP

    Hell, why not the Billy Goat? Might revive the journalistic instincts in a few Trib reporters while you’re at it.

  12. OIFVet

    Darn it, I will be out of town for a few weeks and will miss it this year. I hope a suitable venue will be found and everyone will have a great time!

  13. Rocco S.

    I can not recommend the Drawing Room (12 S Michigan – 2nd floor of the Chicago Athletic Assoc.) enough. Cindy’s, which is on their rooftop, would also be a good choice. Not sure if I can attend though. Would love to attend a meet-up at some point.

  14. john bougearel

    JB offered Clarkstreet Ale House – though I don’t know it, in a pinch should do just fine.

    Rocco Loves the Drawing Room, and Cindy’s rooftop sounds nice too

    Louis suggested Rivers Rest at 30s Wacker, the old CME building. They have plenty of outdoor space along the Chicago River. While there are many Chicago River venues, and most of them should be excellent choices, I can vouch for Rivers being a pretty darn good idea for a meetup outdoors along the river.

    Garrett suggested Bar Louie at the Marina Towers. The Towers are along the Chicago River too,

  15. Neil Rest

    For reference, how well do you know Chicago?
    What distance from your hotel is reasonable for you?

    And what about a park, weather permitting?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The big reason for staying closer to the hotel is that the Loop is where a lot of the transit routes in from the suburbs converge. So convenience for them is more important than convenience for me.

      We can’t do this outside. Can’t take the weather risk. Plus I am impaired these days (among other things, a chronic ankle sprain) and need to be able to not walk far, have that be on level ground, and be able to sit.

      1. john bougearel

        Rivers is indoor/outdoor, and the outdoor along the river is roofed. Not that I can recall it ever raining around the 4th of July in Chicago-area, ever. So, weather should not rule out Rivers. And it is a block from all the train stations (except southbound).

  16. James

    For this sort of thing, you want to go to Rock Bottom Brewery in River North. No question. 1 W. Grande Ave. Big space, they have accommodated everything and very flexible.

  17. Neil Rest

    So . . . the effective radius is a short cab ride from the middle of the Loop . . .
    Between Chinatown and Old Town as outer bounds.

    1. Louis Fyne

      friday PM rush is awful in chicago. Downtown/commuter train stations to Old Town will be a long ride (time-wise).

      And to the extent that suburbanites, folks from Downstate, Wisconsinites, Hoosiers might join in, sticking near the train stations, or maybe the south end of River North, or staying east of Halsted will be better logistically.

      just sayin

    2. Bugs Bunny

      What about the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel. Big and you can usually grab tables if you get there early enough. They have an outside area that you could move to if the weather is good. Right on the river across from Marina City. I love that view. Just don’t look too far to the right…

  18. Darius

    The Berghoff? Too touristy? An old beer joint. Right in the Loop. I used to go there in the 90s, when I was a student in Chicago.

    1. Rob

      I used to go to a meetup there 3? years ago. Dozens would show, the bar didn’t break its stride.

  19. Jeff N

    Berghoff has changed quite a bit since the 90s, not sure if they have much standing room without tables. They *might*, but I don’t remember seeing much the last time I was there 5-10 years ago.
    On December 28, 2005, it was announced by Herman Berghoff, 70, and his wife Jan Berghoff that after 107 years of operation, The Berghoff would close on February 28, 2006.

    The restaurant’s basement cafe reopened on April 18, 2006, during weekday lunch hours only, and was run by Carlyn Berghoff, Herman and Jan’s daughter and the great-granddaughter of the founding Herman Joseph Berghoff. She also reopened the Berghoff’s bar on May 23, 2006, under the new name “17/West at The Berghoff.” At one point, Carlyn Berghoff converted the dining room of the restaurant into a private banquet hall called “The Century Room,” however, after a year under new ownership, The Berghoff re-launched their full-service restaurant…
    In 2016, Carlyn Berghoff, CEO of Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group, transitioned out of the restaurant by selling her assets to Berghoff Restaurant Company of Delaware, which is owned and operated by her brother, Pete Berghoff. July 1, 2016, marked the first day that Berghoff Restaurant Company of Delaware began managing operations at 17 West Adams. Currently, the Berghoff Company operates the full-service restaurant, public bar, and cafe.

  20. Garrett

    Thoughts on things I heard here:
    – Rock Bottom Brewery is probably reasonable; they are a large space and should be able to accommodate 40 and wouldn’t be that busy.

    – Cindy’s is an absolutely beautiful bar with a rooftop overlooking the bean, but it’s really unlikely to accommodate 40 people. On a Friday in the summer it can be a wait for a group of four. Drawing Room is in the same hotel and could easily accommodate 40.

    – Clark Street Ale House and Monk’s are fantastic, wonderful, neighborhood dive bars that would probably work – but a crowd of 40 people would be half of the patrons (in Monk’s) and they would not reserve you space.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    I live in Ann Arbor Michigan, not Chicago Illinois. But we do have a Bar Louie here and if all the Bar Louies are alike ( on orders from Corporate Headquarters), then what I observed about the Bar Louie in Ann Arbor may be relevant to the Bar Louie in Chicago.

    I went into our Bar Louie once, just to see. I remember the food as being not bad but the noise level was so extreme that I could not stand to stay there. So I ate reasonably quickly and left. I later complained to a friend about this and he told me the following story: that he went into that Bar Louie once and complained to
    some low-level management about the extreme noise level. And here is what they told him: the volume is set to 10 on purpose because it is felt that extreme noise makes people feel as if they are “excited” and “happy” and they will eat faster and leave sooner, allowing for quicker turning of the tables.

    Now, technically speaking, I did not visit the visible un-walled-off bar, but since it was in the same space, why would it be any less noisy?

    Something to think about as you all decide how to pick a place where you can actually hear eachother talk and where long-lingering is not resented by a management wishing to sell as much stuff as fast as possible.

  22. Clark Landwehr

    I vote for Monk’s. Never been there. Can kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Will show up pretty much anywhere though. Glad there will be another meetup here this soon.

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