Market's owner had thought about reimagining the West Loop sports bar in 2015 to better cater to guests of the pending Nobu and Soho House hotels.
“We wanted to be a little more upscale," said managing partner Donald Whitcomb. "We wanted to get away from the sports bar mentality and the kind of frat-ish, heavy drinking crowd.”
Then a pipe broke and filled the space at 1113 W. Randolph St. with two feet of standing water. "The whole place was gutted, water damage everywhere," Whitcomb said. "We had to pretty much rebuild the place, so we took the opportunity to build the concept.”
The bar shut down for renovations in February and reopened on April 14 as Packing House, a tribute to its location in Chicago's meatpacking district. The concept was developed with the help of Amanda Barnes, formerly of The Purple Pig, who will be serving a menu of Mediterranean-influenced American fare.
“We’ve definitely upgraded the quality of the food,” Whitcomb said. He also said the wine menu is “a drastic improvement from the previous selection,” offering 34 options by the glass with a mix of domestic, French, Italian and Spanish varieties and plenty of sparkling wines. Expect to see more small-batch spirits and craft beer, with six brews on draft and 25 to 30 more available by the bottle.
The redecorated dining room features eight booths and a row of dark wood tables with bookcases embedded in the walls. The screens that used to show sports have been outfitted with frames and will display rotating images from local artists.
The second-floor lounge has been renamed My House and operate as a late-night lounge on weekends as well as a private event space. Opening in the beginning of May, the rooftop lounge will offer the same amazing cityscape views that drew so many people to Market, plus its own cocktail and food menu focused on easy-to-eat passed foods. Outdoor dining season will also bring a 50-seat sidewalk cafe.
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