Since opening 17 months ago, the clientele at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse has cemented it as a frequent home for the athlete whale, as the name might suggest. Whether playing for a hometown team, an out-of-towner on a road trip, or a retiree, professional ballplayers flock to eat and drink at the namesake establishment of the most famous athlete in the world.
GM Myron Markewycz has been working on Jordan's restaurants since the original on LaSalle Street. He talks about Jordan's visits, the clientele, and a special whale request fulfilled by the kitchen.
"Since we opened a year-and-half ago he's probably been in here 25-30 times. He'll come with the guys, with guests, with his fiancée and they'll do everything from sit at the bar to the dining room. Michael's an avid wine collector so some of the stuff he has in his cellar he'll bring by to the restaurant to open up. When people want to spend (on wine) we have a great list for them to choose from. He does the spread, from lunch salads to Del Monico bone-in ribeyes, depending on the day.
Scottie (Pippen's) been in here, Ron Harper's been in here, and some of the guys he used to play against like Charles Oakley and Patrick Ewing. A lot of the guys from local teams Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, have been in too. Some of these guys will take down the 48-ounce porterhouse, which is meant to be shared, by themselves.
One time we had a big wine collector that came in and had a taste for foie gras. Foie gras is not normally on our menu but we jumped on it. We have good relationships with a lot of chefs in the city and we got a local foie gras and roasted a whole local foie gras for these guys, who brought in five or six of their own wines from their cellar collections. A lot of Chicago's top dining destinations would never do anything like that. That's a few-hundred dollar appetizer for these guys. We have some VIP guests that come in and we create menus for them but it was just lucky that we were able to come up with it."
"Michael's booth in the corner, that can accommodate five or six people, is very comfortable. It's not very private. It's an oversized booth that overlooks the rest of the dining room. It gives him a little bit of privacy but still lets him feel the energy of the room. (It's in plain view but kind of off in the corner.) He gets mobbed in the bar, people are excited to see him and he evokes a lot of memories, but in the dining room people are pretty respectful and let him enjoy his evening. Usually one of the managers hangs out by him to make sure that he's comfortable. He's talked to some kids, he's bought people lunch because they started talking to him. His motto is 'sign an autograph for one person, sign them for everyone.'
"He's got a table in the bar that's kind of his table and he has one in the dining room. When someone sits there the service staff has to tell them 'we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is you're sitting in Michael's booth. The bad news is if he comes in, we're going to have to move you.' But then there's some more good news because we pick up their check. They're usually pretty excited and then they sit the rest of the night next to MJ."