Headquarters Beercade founders Chireal Jordan and Brian Galati appreciate the power of a surprise. The longtime friends and business partners have largely stayed mum since the 2019 debut of Machine in Wicker Park, where they shook up cocktail fans’ expectations with tableside florists and interactive drinks.
But at long last, the duo behind Machine Hospitality is preparing to introduce Chicago to their latest project: Dearly Beloved, a cross-genre spot they describe as a “cocktail restaurant,” slated to open in early 2024 at 900 N. Franklin Street in the former home Kiki’s, a French dining stalwart that closed in 2020.
For Jordan and Galati, Dearly Beloved is a defiant culmination of their decades of experience in hospitality and a representation of how far they’ve come. The name Dearly Beloved itself — the opening words of a wedding ceremony and Prince and the Revolution’s 1984 hit “Let’s Go Crazy” — is a message to Chicago.
“It’s almost like a toast, clearing your voice and tapping a glass,” says Jordan. “We’re older, we’re smarter, and we’ve had a lot of success in the food and cocktail world. This is us clearing our throats — this isn’t an arcade bar, this isn’t Machine. May we have your attention?”
As “cocktail restaurant” implies, drinks will get top billing at Dearly Beloved. Jordan and Galati remain tight-lipped about menu details but say they are eager to highlight rare spirits and ingredients in a truly innovative way. “One of the things we’ve delivered in our career is unexpected,” says Galati. “With Dearly Beloved, we’re on the same wavelength of really trying to blow expectations.”
Jordan agrees: “We still want to shock and surprise the crowd.”
Keeping their ideas under wraps helps to build anticipation, but it’s also a strategic move to stave off potential imitations. Their protective inclination is based on experience. Machine attracted attention among local bargoers for its aesthetically striking cocktails (think jet-black beverages in heart-shaped glass vessels and elements like mint perfume in a vintage spray bottle), but Jordan and Galati say it wasn’t long before they began seeing similar approaches — and glassware — around town.
The pair is less cagey about the food menu from Machine executive chef Kristofer Lohraff, which will place a heavy emphasis on vegetables, as well as ample choices for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diners. The theme of surprise will remain, with Jordan citing a zucchini dish designed to taste like filet mignon. But the team also wants to satisfy omnivores and promises meat and seafood options, too.
Given the lighting-fast pace of visual culture, a phenomenon only accelerated by technology, it’s tough these days to pull off an original design. But at this point in their careers, Jordan and Galati feel confident about playing by their own rules. That context is key in their vision for Dearly Beloved’s 6,000-square-foot space, with workers stripping away Kiki’s classical bistro styling to make room for a traditional dining area, lounge sections, and a “very large” bar.
“The design is definitely different from what people are used to seeing from us,” says Jordan, referring to the industrial look of Headquarters Beercade and soft florals at Machine. “[Dearly Beloved is] dark, chic, clean. It’s the beautiful side of darkness.”
The space will also house artwork, including a 40-by-10-foot custom sculpture the team imported from overseas. Music will play a role in building the atmosphere too, with Jordan describing the selection as soulful.
Much has yet to be revealed about Dearly Beloved, and its owners hope Chicagoans feel that the wait will be worth it. “We really believe this is something that isn’t in Chicago yet,” says Galati. “It stands in its own category.”
Dearly Beloved, 900 N. Franklin Street, Scheduled to open in winter 2024.