Over the weekend, TAO management threw an invite-only party to celebrate the opening of its Chicago location, inside the 34,000-square-foot space the formerly housed clubs like Castle, Excalibur, and Limelight. Those invited rubbed elbows with celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, Taraji P. Henson, and pretty much the entire cast of Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.
For good measure, Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and infielder Daniel Murphy also attended the party. It’s quite a showing for a summery September weekend in Chicago. Let’s see if they can sustain the momentum in the dead of a frigid Chicago winter.
TAO Group is working with Sterling Bay’s hospitality division, Four Corners (Benchmark, Federales). Four Corners knows how to navigate the cold temps. Perhaps some LA synergy also contributed to the turnout, as Kardashian also hung out over the weekend at Blind Dragon, the new River North karaoke bar inside the FOUND Hotel for its grand opening party. Model Emily Ratajkowski was also seen at the hotel, according to a rep. TAO isn’t alone when it comes to LA imports bringing celebs to Chicago for opening parties. The Sugar Factory opening brought Kylie Jenner and Nick Cannon to suburban Rosemont when it opened in 2015.
The restaurant portion opens tonight on the ground floor. The second-floor club debuts Friday. The TAO formula — over-the-top design with a ton of Asian imagery — hasn’t changed for Chicago. If guests like giant Buddhas, they’ve found the right place. Rockwell Group, which designed other TAO locations, did the honors in Chicago.
The menu also doesn’t deviate much from locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or New York. Back in June, ownership teased a few new dishes to go with dim sum, wagyu beef, and more. Items include Chilean sea bass satay, lobster wontons, Peking duck, crispy snapper, and a signature tuna sashimi “pringle.” Diners can reserve a table inside the 275-seat space via OpenTable.
TAO has been a reliable moneymaker nationwide — the Vegas location is the most profitable independent restaurant in the country. Big spenders or those armed with corporate cards have found their paradise, as one the most anticipated new Chicago restaurants of the year opens for business starting tonight.
TAO Chicago, 632 N. Dearborn Street, restaurant open 5 p.m. to midnight on Sunday through Wednesday; 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday though Saturday. Bar’s open at 4 p.m. daily. Nightclub opening on Friday.