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Alinea Group Considered Opening a Restaurant in Trump Tower Chicago in 2006

This is one of the many tidbits in a Chicago feature on co-founder Nick Kokonas

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Before Trump Tower debuted 10 years ago, Alinea Group considered opening a restaurant inside the Chicago skyscraper.
Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Tuesday brings a revelation that Alinea Group, the owners of Chicago’s only three-Michelin-starred restaurant, considered opening a restaurant inside Trump Tower in Chicago. The news brings a new wrinkle into June’s incident when a worker at another Alinea venue, Aviary, spit at Eric Trump’s face. The revelation comes courtesy of a feature on Alinea and Tock co-founder Nick Kokonas that Chicago magazine published on Tuesday morning.

The magazine reported that the negotiations only involved two of the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. Kokonas told Eater the meeting happened in 2006, before the River North skyscraper was built (it opened in January 2009). Chicago reported that Kokonas passed on the proposal as he was dubious of Donald Trump’s reputation for breaking contracts. He did compliment Ivanka Trump for her preparedness, according to the magazine. Kokonas, via email, wrote that the Trumps decided to build their own restaurant because “no one wanted to do the project.” He added that Eric Trump wasn’t involved in those talks and that he hadn’t met with him.

The Chicago piece painted Kokonas as someone obsessed with solutions, someone who at times could rub people the wrong way. The feature mentioned the episode with John Mariani, in which Kokonas raged after the critic posted a photo of chef Grant Achatz after he recovered from cancer. It chronicled the Cat Cora incident, in which the Iron Chef America star was captured on video leaving Alinea, angry she didn’t have a reservation at the Lincoln Park restaurant. It also mentioned an Eater National story which criticized Kokonas’s reaction to Cora.

It’s a lengthy read and once more teases Alinea’s Fulton Market project, a luxurious music venue and restaurant inside the former Moto space. However, it offers no further news beyond that the project, teased since 2016, is still in the works.


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