There’s a terrible lack of rooftop bars and restaurants on Chicago’s South Side, but next month VU Rooftop Bar should introduce itself to the South Loop. Convention center visitors know the area around McCormick Place isn’t plush with dining and drinking options, but VU (pronounced “view”) will give them another option. The 22nd-floor bar will feature a karaoke room, a solarium, and space for private events.
Atlanta company Concentrics Restaurant Group is developing and operating the bar. It was behind the ROOF on theWit. The Wit’s roof showed Concentrics founder Bob Amick how much Chicagoans love outdoor venues. He’s angling to open the week of September 24 at 133 E. Cermak Road, near the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cermak.
“I think there’s a method in creating a great space on top of a building that’s more than just being on top of the building,” Amick said.
VU is a bar first and foremost, and will showcase views from the South Side. Amick is appreciative of the extra space compared to downtown. The Wit’s roof is about 6,000 square feet. He has about 13,000 square feet at VU. There’s a solarium inside. With a push of a button, the solarium’s windows open or close giving VU’s customers shelter from the elements. The space includes a 40-seat island bar, a 16-seat karaoke room, and a 100-foot video wall that extends through the indoor portion of the bar.
It’ll also have an open kitchen. Nolan Narut has left the recently opened Stefani Prime and is VU’s executive chef. He’ll make the kind of shared plates that make sense on rooftops. Former Mercat a la Planxa sommelier/GM John Williams is handling the beverages and serve as VU’s GM.
Besides serving locals and McCormick Place visitors and workers, Amick hopes Bears fans will find their way to the bar from nearby Soldier Field. He stressed that the bar is not a nightclub, so they’ll keep the bass at a low level.
Concentrics has seven venues in Atlanta and projects in Louisville, Charleston, Columbus, and Toledo. It was founded in 2001 and was also behind Cibo Motto, the Italian restaurant that closed in 2011 inside the Wit. It was a Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2010. The group is also working on a rooftop bar near Navy Pier, Amick said.
Amick is shooting to open VU in late September, but he’ll have a better idea after a weekend visit to Chicago. The Tribune first reported it. Check back for updates.