TAO, perhaps America’s top brand of Asian-themed restaurant/nightclub hybrids, opens its first Midwestern location in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in less than a week. The Chicago location, a sprawling multi-floor 34,000-square-foot behemoth in the former home of the nightlife Castle and the Chicago Historical Society on Dearborn Street that was built in 1892, will open to the public on Monday, a news release announces.
The 275-seat space, which no doubt will be flooded with curious Chicagoans and well-heeled tourists upon opening, features a main dining room with a 16-foot Quan Yin statue followed by a two-part 7,000-square-foot nightclub upstairs which is accessible via a separate alley entrance. Decor bells and whistles there include lanterns lighting the alley, 100-year-old Chinese doors, a 10-foot bell, and more, the release states.
Locations in LA and Las Vegas are magnets for celebrities. Ownership is deemphasizing the club part of the project. They object to the term “clubstaurant,” hoping to sell TAO as an upscale restaurant that will fit into Chicago’s bustling culinary scene. The menu is a mixture of Asian cuisines. Executive chef Michael Armstrong told the Tribune — using a questionable pun — that they’re not blending techniques when it comes to specific food items. He stresses that TAO’s menu isn’t fusion.
TAO Las Vegas is routinely the most profitable independent restaurant in America — Gibsons on Rush Street is regularly the highest-ranking Chicago representative on the list. The average check is $90 for TAO Las Vegas, according to Restaurant Business. Parent company TAO Group runs venues in LA, New York, Vegas, Sydney, and Singapore. Stay tuned for more on the Chicago location in time for its official opening.