Fresh off the news of fast-casual pizza chain 800 Degrees's arrival in Evanston comes word that club-chic steak chain STK (9 W. Kinzie, River North, 312-340-5636) is opening in River North tomorrow—and it’s bringing with it a hyper-curated image.
Launched by the publicly traded One Group in 2004, Chicago’s will be the tenth STK location, joining branches in Milan, London, New York, and Las Vegas. Pressed on why Chicago needs another steakhouse, co-founder and senior vice president Celeste Fierro touts STK’s “vibe-driven” dining experience. “We offer different elements that make us unique,” says the New York hospitality vet, who worked as an event planner before launching STK a decade ago. “We have a DJ every night. Our seating is closer [together] than most. You can mingle. It’s atmosphere-driven.”
Concretely, that means a bistro, a Champagne room, and three dining rooms adorned with fiberglass and white bone finish for a 210-seat capacity (“it's one of our more intimate properties,” says Fierro). The whole space is anchored by a central bar—again, to encourage mingling—and rounds out the tour de image with a quirkily instructive dress code (“ladies, throw on a LBD and a pair of your favorite heels,” reads the website).
Food-wise, the menu will resemble other STKs, with a selection of seafood (halibut, lobster), “Lil’ BRGs” (hamburgers), and a more or less à la carte steak program (choose a small, medium, or large cut of meat and toppings from béarnaise to horseradish). The group’s executive chef Aaron Taylor will oversee the local rollout of STK’s plug-and-play menu before passing the torch to Miami chef Nicolas Cabrera (Evolution, Coya). Desserts will skew chocolatey & frozen (Fierro highlights the “Champagne Room," an ice cream cake inside a chocolate mold topped with hot chocolate that's, unsurprisingly, only available in the Champagne room), and if that’s not decadent enough to incentivize a trip to STK, some familiar faces might be: “We have a great celebrity following,” says Fierro.