Sepia has had quite a year. First, Ron Howard picked the restaurant to shoot some scenes in his movie, The Dilemma. Then Michelin gave Sepia and its chef, Andrew Zimmerman, one star. Following that, Zimmerman competed—and gave a great showing—at Cochon 555. Now, owner Emmanuel Nony reveals details about the forthcoming Private Events by Sepia.
The 2,200 square-foot space, which has taken over the former Maria Pinto retail store across the alley from Sepia, looks to open in late spring and can accommodate approximately 50 to 70 people for sit-down dinners and upwards of 175 for cocktail receptions. This is a great move for Nony because, he said, Sepia can't really handle parties larger than 20 in the dining room and they have received hundreds of requests for large groups since the restaurant opened nearly four years ago.
Private Events by Sepia is being designed by Gary Lee Partners, which also designed Sepia. In addition to keeping the grey bamboo flooring from Pinto's space, Nony said they'll have Tony Duquette-inspired chandeliers hanging throughout and have a vintage-looking silver metallic wallpaper that will match the mosaics at Sepia. A vintage 1910 portable bar made of walnut and pewter will serve as the main drink station, while a small lounge just inside the entrance can host people for drinks. "It's more like a living room feeling," Nony said. "We want that warmth, nothing cramped."
The new space will have its own kitchen and have a menu reflective of what Zimmerman creates in Sepia, but won't change as often. They're adding a Combi Oven and a sous vide cooker as well. And, Nony said, they're looking to do have mixologist Joshua Pearson create special cocktails for the event space. Sepia won't use this as overflow when it gets busy on the weekends, but they may have dancing next door
if an event isn't booked for special occasions like New Year's Eve.
"For me, the space is very special," Nony said. "In a sense it's sad that I'm taking over [Pinto's] space, but I think that if she hadn't [closed], I wouldn't have been able to do that." And when asked why they didn't create a brand new concept, Nony said that's on the docket, but they're in no hurry.
"We feel with the Michelin star we received and all the press, we've stepped up in general with the food and service and our business has been consistent and strong," he said. "Why start a second restaurant when you have so many people who want to come to Sepia and you can't accommodate them? We're here for the long run. Andrew and I aren't in a rush. We'll take our time and do it one step at a time."
· Chicago Michelin Guide Revealed [~EChi~]
· Michael Fiorello Crowned Porc Prince at Chicago Cochon 555
[Sepia's dining room]