If you ran a restaurant high above Michigan Avenue, with floor-to-ceiling windows, impressive views of both the river and lake, and a menu by Wolfgang Puck, you’d probably want people to eat there, right? That, though, doesn’t seem to be the business model for Puck’s at the Midway Club.
I’ve been to Puck’s, located on the fifth floor of the Gleacher Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a handful of times and have never seen more than a handful of other diners. It seems to be open only for lunch, and it appears to go out of its way not to advertise itself, either online or onsite. If there are any signs for the restaurant outside the Gleacher Center or in the lobby, I’ve never seen them. Even once you’re inside, finding the place is a minor odyssey. You exit the elevator into a wood-paneled reception area that could be part of a dean’s office, then you follow a hallway to the left until you arrive at another anteroom. There’s a host stand and, beyond that, tranquil and tastefully appointed linen-topped tables. My directions aside, you’re probably still going to get lost and have to ask someone who works in the building.
But once you do make it there, nobody will act like you don’t belong. A host will seat you, you will order a Puckish salad, sandwich, or entrée and maybe soup, and then you will pay. The very normalcy of dining here somehow makes the overall experience even stranger.