Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New York Strangles the Puny Breath Out of Chicago - The Pump Room to be the Chump Room?

Photo -Stairway to Heaven (Sun-Times photo by Scott Stewart)

Maceys is Marshall Fields but they expect Chicagoans to buck-up for the Maple Room? It is awful by the way. The Day Marshall Fields fired every woman on the Christmas Frango Mint Massacre, I stopped tossing coin at the venerable store - it was owned by Canadians anyway. Then Macey's smugly boarded and looted the Flagship Store of Chicago.

Now, thanks to the great Dave Hoekstra ("You Ain't Much, If You Ain't Dutch")Chicagoans get a head's up on the latest Big Apple strangulation of a Chicago Icon - and I don't mean Carol Marin.

The Pump Room of the Ambassador East is going south. Did these eedjits ask Max Weismann? Angel the long-time barman? Businessman Steve Swederlow? Chop House Owner Joe Sullivan? Any of the hundreds of patrons who drop Hundred Dollar Bills on the bar, even though most prefer the swipe card? Nah.

My question - Did the Due Dillinger, er Dilligence Sub-Committee, bother to talk to staff or the the hundreds of patrons who gather in the Pump Room every weekend?

" Hi, I'm Ian Schrager! I could care less about you, your City, this pile of rocks, much less the Jumping Pump Room! Why don't you and your Hundo Stuffed Gold Coast Wallets take a hike? How's that question?"

January 4, 2010

BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Sun-Times Columnist

Chicago cabaret singer Nan Mason includes "One for My Baby (One More For the Road)" in her repertoire. Chances are Mason will include the Sinatra classic on Jan. 30 when she makes her final appearance at the legendary Pump Room bar and restaurant.

Mason's contract has not been renewed, and the restaurant is being downsized.

"Like other hotels in the Chicago area we've had to rethink our fine dining experience," said Paul Lauritsen, general manager of the Ambassador East, home of the Pump Room.

"Four- and five-diamond restaurants have had to rethink the public's willingness to go through with service and menu price in these economic times. The bar will remain open and we will feature a lighter bistro menu. There will be no seating in the main dining room."

It will sit empty except for special occasions.

The New York-based Ian Schrager Co. is bidding to buy the Ambassador East from the current owners, local developers Peter Dumon and David Bossy. Schrager is a co-founder of the Studio 54 nightclub in New York that revolutionized the late 1970s disco dance scene.

They did not sing "One for My Baby" at Studio 54.

The Pump Room opened on Oct. 1, 1938. It thrived on a celebrity culture that no longer exists.

Original owner Ernie Byfield recruited celebrities to sparkle in the dimly lit elegance of the Pump Room. Celebrites stayed over in Chicago for a day or two instead of rushing to a private jet. The late Sun-Times columnist Irv Kupcinet worked from Booth One in the 225-seat restaurant. The original Booth One is in storage at the Chicago History Museum .

The Pump Room had a declared style. Situated on the north end of Rush Street , once known as "the Street of Dreams," the Pump Room was a place where those dreams came true. Anyone could be like Bogie and Bacall, who stopped at the Pump Room en route to Hollywood the day after they wed in May 1945.

"Ernie invited Essee and me to join the Bogarts at table No. 1," Kupcinet recalled in his 1988 memoir Kup (A Man, An Era, A City). "What I remember best was the lovelight in the eyes of both Bogie and Baby."
The Pump Room could do that to you.

"The Ian Schrager plan is not a done deal yet," Lauritsen said. "I do know it is his intention to renovate the hotel and the Pump Room. We don't know if it still will be called the Pump Room."

A New York spokeswoman for Schrager had no comment.

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