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The votes are in: the Pump Room to remain 'Pump Room'

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The Pump Room will stay the Pump Room, in name at least.

Hotelier Ian Schrager, who is renovating the famed restaurant and the Ambassador East hotel at 1301 N. State, invited Chicagoans two weeks ago to vote on whether to keep the Pump Room name or change it to Gold Coast Kitchen.

The result: "It was a landslide," Schrager says -- 95 percent of the nearly 20,000 votes in favor of "Pump Room" (though that figure dipped a bit in the last few days).

Schrager bought the flagging property last year and is in the midst of a total overhaul of the hotel -- to be called Public -- and the restaurant, which opened in 1938 and in its heyday was a celebrity stomping ground, the place to see and be seen.

"All we wanted to do was what the people of Chicago wanted, so we figured we'd ask them," he says.

Schrager, who pioneered the "boutique hotel" concept, is sensitive of his role as an outsider -- a New Yorker, at that -- coming in to shake up the hospitality scene. Hence, the naming campaign.

"I think it's a little bit of a treacherous balancing act that we're doing," he says. "We're trying to balance the heritage but also do something innovative and responsive to the era we're in now."

Schrager still wants the Pump Room to be a place to see and be seen. But the reinvented restaurant will take a farm-to-table approach and will serve three squares a day, as well as a late-night menu.

The food will be "reasonably priced"; hotel room rates will start at $135.

Schrager has put New York chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in charge of the restaurant. The chef heading up the kitchen day to day, though, will be Bradford Phillips, an Indiana native whose resume includes Blackbird, NoMI, Tru and, most recently, LM Restaurant, a French bistro in Lincoln Square.

The hotel and restaurant will open its doors in September, Schrager says.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on June 23, 2011 8:00 AM.

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