In his recasting of the Omni Ambassador East Hotel into the more “inclusive” Public Chicago (slated to preview in September), the hotelier attempts to save the Pump Room (1301 N. State St.; 312-787-3700) by luring the legendary Jean-Georges Vongerichten to the kitchen.
1) What’s your agenda?
We’re doing a complete makeover to the Pump Room space, restoring it to the way it was. We have tried to give the room the respect and dignity it deserves. Chicagoans hold it near and dear to their hearts.
2) Are you bringing back the dance floor?
No dance floor. Nothing like that. It’s just a restaurant.
3) How will you succeed where others have failed?
We are very much aware that a lot of New York people come to Chicago and think they know better—and they fall on their faces. We’re trying to do something that the people of Chicago will love and embrace.
4) Which is?
Farm-to-table idea. Lots of farms and original flavors in the Midwest, and the menu will be tailored to Chicago tastes. [Vongerichten’s] ABC Kitchen in New York, it’s simple food. Straightforward. Creative. Original. No tricks. It’s a pleasure to bring that to Chicago.
Photograph: Ian Schrager Company