Food & Drink

What’s Cooking at The Chicago Athletic Association?

There's a lot to get excited about at the new Chicago Athletic Association and the food and beverage offerings top that list...

MAY 2015 – Before we get into the actual food and drinks, we wanted to chat with the team behind much of it: Chicago’s Land & Sea Dept., who are behind super hip spots Parson’s Chicken & Fish, Lost Lake and Longman & Eagle. They bring their creative palate and design aesthetic to a few spaces in the CAA, including the Game Room, the Cherry Circle Room and the Milk Room.

CAA: How did Land & Sea come together with the CAA team? 
Land & Sea Dept: We were approached by AJ Capital Partners in the spring of 2013 and began to discuss the project. We had just opened Parson’s Chicken & Fish that May, so were in the full throes of the insanity of that opening. We had some knowledge of the historical aspect of the building itself so were interested in discussing the dimensions of the project further. We toured the space in July that year and knew then that this was a project we’d have to explore further. Given the history, the uniqueness of the spaces and the various partnerships being discussed, we just felt that we were a good fit for what everyone was ultimately trying to achieve.

CAA: What gets your team most excited about working on this project?
L&SD.: When evaluating projects, we need to feel challenged, inspired and motivated by the design and creative processes and the Chicago Athletic Association  — while daunting — was and continues to be rife with creative intrigue and possibility. It’s impossible not to be excited about it. We’re also always pushing forward, pushing ourselves and challenging our staff to take on new things. That said, though, we’ve never been involved in a project of this scale before and it has been an exciting, fascinating and deeply engrossing process, for sure.

CAA: Does Land & Sea have input in the design of the spaces or just the food? If so, what ideas did you bring to the table?
It’s been a collaborative process throughout and we’ve worked with the various parties involved from the start. While Roman & Williams has designed the lobby, game room and guest rooms, we’ve overseen art direction and design of the restaurant and tasting room spaces, and then have worked with Commune Hotels on a number of other details, everything from artwork to music to uniforms for the various staffing teams. It’s a process that will continue, as there are a number of event and programmable spaces throughout the building, so we’re looking forward to working on interesting ways to engage and utilize these spaces in cool, creative ways.

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