Inside Danny Meyer’s GreenRiver

With real estate tough to come by, bars are popping up in some perplexing places: inside other concepts, astride alleyways, even on the top floor of medical office buildings.

The latter is the home turf of GreenRiver, Danny Meyer’s bar and restaurant opening Thursday in Chicago. A collaboration between Meyer’s Union Square Events (the catering-and-events arm of Union Square Hospitality Group) and The Best Bar in the World—the hospitality-consulting firm run by Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon, the forces behind New York City bar The Dead Rabbit—GreenRiver sits atop Northwestern Medicine’s outpatient pavilion, in the heart of a downtown hospital district.

Drawing inspiration from hometown architectural hero Mies van der Rohe in addition to Japanese architecture, the space’s swanky vibe somewhat belies its location. The concept is one GreenRiver said it hopes will draw Northwestern’s staff and local residents, as well as tourists.

For a new-age joint, GreenRiver is flowing with historical touches—such as cocktails named after notorious Chicagoans with Irish heritage (McGarry and Muldoon are natives of Belfast, Ireland): Easy Eddie ($13), Hellcat ($16) and Diamond Jim ($13).

Regional sourcing contributes to the “modern Midwestern” sensibility of its food menu, a meat-centric mix of shareable and larger plates featuring pork terrine ($12), beef tartare ($13) and saffron spaghetti with uni, clam and tomato ($23).

With a private-event space for up to 320 guests (Gallery at GreenRiver) and a 100-seat outdoor terrace adjacent to the bar and dining room, GreenRiver aims to celebrate its community while serving up a place for that community to celebrate.

Catering for cocktail receptions, plated dinners and the like will be operated exclusively by Union Square Events, featuring seasonal menus with a Midwest focus.

“Chicago is a formidable food town and our menus at Gallery at GreenRiver will evolve over time to adapt to local tastes and expectations,” says Ron Parker, managing partner at Union Square Events. “We are excited to bring USE’s signature hospitality and service to the city and contribute to its advanced culinary and beverage scene.”

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