The owners of Chicago Magic Lounge are opening an ambitious multi-million dollar theater and 1940s-era speakeasy celebrating the city’s magical history this week. Magicians will perform large shows in 120-seat theatre, showcase close-up magic in a 43-seat lounge, and even do tricks behind the bar. They’ll serve special cocktails and a smattering of small plates.
The bar portion is open to the public starting at 5 p.m. today, but access to the main theater, where the main magic shows and music performances will take place, won’t be granted to the general public until Thursday. Max Maven, a well-known magician, will perform the first shows.
A magician rarely reveals secrets, and Magic Lounge co-founder Joey Cranford said he can’t reveal the identity of the chef who created the menu. He assures it’s a familiar name to Chicagoans. Likewise, all he could say about the person who developed the drink menu was that person has an association with a Michelin-starred restaurant.
“We’re bringing cocktails and card tricks together again,” Cranford said.
The facade at 5050 N. Clark Street is nondescript. Overall, the lounge takes up 7,200 square feet. Visitors will go through a laundry front to make it into the speakeasy. The bar’s named after David Burns, the famed architect who died last month while working on the Magic Lounge. He designed Chicago theater icons including the Steppenwolf and Looking Glass. David’s Lounge is an art-deco inspired space with regular bar hours. A magician will entertain guests behind the bar. If customers want to see the show or hear live music on the main stage, they can purchase a ticket online and move to the 120-seat cabaret. If they want a more-intimate experience, there also a 43-seat space (called the 654 Club) that specializes in close-up magic (table tricks performed right in front of guests).
The Magic Lounge is a 21+ venue, so keep the children at home — unless it’s during the family performances on Sundays. Also, dress to impress: LA’s famous Magic Castle has a strict dress code. That’s not a requirement in Chicago, but Cranford is confident that once guests see the space they won’t want to show up in jeans and a T-shirt.
While food won’t be available at the 654 Club — the show goes by too quickly to order and enjoy items — Cranford did mention they are working with Katherine Anne Confections. They’ll offer a VIP package with Katherine Anne truffles and champagne.
For the main menu, expect items like sirloin and pork belly sliders, crudite with a green goddess dressing, and shrimp cocktail served with a special sauce. Chicago once had a tradition of magic bars, and one of them, Schullien’s served German food. The North Center bar closed in 1999. They were able to add some touches of German food in the menu. Guests will be able to “taste the history,” Cranford said. However, some of those old bars went too far when it came to puns. That’s why Cranford made sure items like a sandwich called “Slight of Ham” wouldn’t see the light of day.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t back stories with the items. There’s five signature cocktails including “How Houdini Died.” Harry Houdini died from a ruptured appendix caused by a punch to the abdomen. That’s why the lounge’s drink is a rum punch.
Cranford and his team are excited to make Chicago Magic Lounge a spot to lure premier magicians from all over the globe. It’s also a swanky spot to take a date. Stay tuned for more coverage later in the week.
Chicago Magic Lounge, 5050 N. Clark Street, 312-366-4500, David’s Bar open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.