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Chicago’s Historic City Clubs Scramble to Stay Relevant

These longtimers are getting revamped to attract the attention of younger, more casual crowds.

A chill University Club?   Rendering: Courtesy of University Club of Chicago

With their formal dining rooms, dress codes, and stuffy vibes, Chicago’s historic city clubs—bastions of members-only schmoozing—aren’t exactly magnets for millennials. Now that the ultrachic Soho House Chicago is on the scene, the longtimers are scrambling to stay relevant.

University Club of Chicago

A $13 million expansion will add 15,000 square feet by Labor Day, complete with casual seating clusters, community tables, and plenty of outlets for devices (read: trendy coworking space).

The Metropolitan Club

A $7 million face-lift starting in July will come with a relaxed dress code. Denim will finally be permitted in all but the formal dining room. More evidence that jeans are the new khakis.

Union League Club of Chicago

Upgrades worth $4 million have pepped up the restos and bars. To lure in a more health-conscious generation, menus now offer small plates as well as vegan and gluten-free options. Nothing says hip like dietary restrictions.


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