One of Chicago’s most popular private event spaces is making long-term adjustments brought on by the pandemic and its impact on dining. The team at Morgan’s on Fulton has installed a sliding retractable roof to provide cover for weddings and other special occasions held at the Fulton Market venue. The owner’s ground-floor restaurant, Marvin’s Food & Fuel, is making use of the newly covered space to serve the public weekend brunch, allowing venue operators to maximize on the investment in the building.
The four-floor building’s 6,000 square-foot rooftop space also includes a 1,500 square-foot glass penthouse structure that reps liken to a greenhouse with standing room for 250 and can seat 160 for a meal. Operators hope the retractable glass canopy, slated to debut in May, will be attractive to hosts who aim to hold an open-air event but are concerned about unexpected precipitation. Other amenities include indoor and outdoor bars, a grilling station, and private cabanas.
Owner James Geier says he’s just trying to make the best the use of private event space. Weddings are coming back, and events like Lollapalooza will bring more business into Morgan’s. But he says opening the space to the public has been part of this master plan for at least 10 years.
Most large events were either paused or significantly slimmed by capacity restrictions over the course of the pandemic, which forced operators who usually relied on these bookings to quickly figure out how to keep their businesses solvent. Geier opened Marvin’s in September the space formerly occupied by La Sirena Clandestina on the corner of Fulton and Morgan. He opted to open a relaxed and cost-effective restaurant amongst a sea of nearby heavy-hitters like Alinea Group, One Off Hospitality and Boka Restaurant Group.
Some in the West Loop and Fulton Market areas worry that only bigger chains can afford to open restaurants in the trendy district. Geier believes smaller businesses will benefit from larger investments from the likes of McDonald’s and more.
“I say bring it on, it’s great for everybody,:” he says. “I’m excited to see what happens post pandemic.”