Overview

Chicago is the Midwest mecca for restaurant innovation. The city is home to the Alinea Group, whose restaurants offer some of the best experiential dining establishments in the country. The craft cocktail business is thriving, with a history of infamous bars and lounges dating back to Prohibition. But the Midwest is truly known for its unique blend of casual and couture, as displayed by one of America’s top chefs Stephanie Izard, who offers upscale dining experiences with a retro diner theme. Chicago’s got a little bit of everything, and the city’s diverse restaurant designers, in turn, are prepared to offer a wide range of styles. The firms listed here have elevated the restaurant scene by designing spaces that embody their clients’ visions. They have been recognized by industry professionals and have won awards for their projects.

Top Architects

555 International

Architects:
Karen Herold

Awards:
Bon Appetit Magazine’s 50 Best New Restaurants

Address:
4501 S Western Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60609

About 555 International

For three decades, 555 International has managed 130 employees to provide design, development, and fabrication services to the leading retail and restaurant businesses in Chicago. The firm stays busy designing spaces and making cool custom products for many of Chicago’s hottest retailers and restaurants, including Girl and the Goat and Coda Di Volpe. Its founder and president James Geier is internationally recognized for his stunning retail work. He has designed spaces for such a diverse span of clients as the Green Bay Packers and Gucci. While Founding Partner Paul Ohadi has a metal manufacturing business that creates custom lighting fixtures. Ohadi’s custom business paired with Geier’s designs resulted in a successful architectural firm that has caught the attention of Eater Chicago, Hospitality Design magazine, and Chicago Tribune.

Featured Projects

Last year Roister, located in the Fulton Market, was one of four Chicago restaurants to be listed in Bon Appetit Magazine’s 50 best new restaurants in the nation. 555 took the meal preparation process into account for this open space design. A casual family-style was used so diners can get comfortable and enjoy the open views of the kitchen. From custom-designed wood ceiling beams with inlaid copper to an open wood fireplace at the heart of the kitchen, the design team fulfilled the owner’s desires for a casual but elegant atmosphere. The International Interior Design Association also gave Roister the RED award for best hospitality project.

AvroKO

Architects:
William Harris, Greg Bradshaw, Kristina O’Neal, Adam Farmerie

Awards:
James Beard Award, HA & D Award

Address:
224 Centre Street, 3rd Floor, New York City, NY 10013

About AvroKO

AvroKO is an architecture and interior design firm with a focus on concept-driven spaces. It has designed award-winning restaurant, bar, hotel, retail, and residential projects from New York to Hong Kong. Recognition has included The James Beard Award and HA & D Award. The suite of companies also includes a branding studio, an independent furniture line, and a hospitality group offering such services as food and beverage concept development. They have offices in New York, San Francisco, Bangkok and London, but the company has designed many of Chicago’s high-end restaurants. AvroKO is a favorite of the Boka Restaurant Group, which runs 14 of the highest-rated restaurants in the city.

Featured Projects

From its food to its design, Momotaro is a winner. It was No. 5 in the Tribune’s Top 50 Best Restaurants in Chicago, as well as winner of the Chicago Eater’s So Hot Right Now award. The design was nominated for a James Beard Award and won a Jean Banchet Award for Best Restaurant Design, as well as being a finalist for a Hospitality Design Award from Upscale Restaurant Magazine. The 11.5k-square-foot space centers on post-World War II era Japan, when Japanese and Western styles merged. A key design feature is the two-story pendant lighting. The space is filled with strong vertical lines, representing the Japanese attention to form and order. In 2015, the firm managed the interiors, custom furniture, and lighting and graphics for Swift and Sons, named one of the best new steakhouses in Chicago by Time Out Chicago and in the U.S. by Zagat. The steakhouse is designed to invoke 19th century Chicago at the height of the city’s cattle trade business. The design won Hospitality Design’s Best Upscale Restaurant award, as well as an honorable mention in Fast Co. Design’s Innovation by Design Awards.

Bureau|AD

Architects:
James Gorski, Tom Nahabedian

Awards:
AIA Chicago Small Project Award, ASLA Merit Award

Address:
20 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL 60654

About Bureau|AD

Bureau|AD is a boutique architecture and design firm founded in 2012 to work on residential, hospitality, institutional, and commercial projects. The firm is known for its sensitivity to detail, space planning, and sustainability. Founder and Principal Tom Nahabedian is a Chicago native who worked in various Los Angeles-based architectural firms prior to establishing Bureau |AD. His residential and hospitality works have been recognized by prestigious organizations like the AIA, James Beard Foundation, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Featured Projects

Bureau has designed two high-end restaurants for Principal Tom Nahabedian’s restaurant entrepreneur cousin, Carrie Nahabedian. Brindille won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Restaurant. The French bistro takes its theme from its name, Brindille (meaning “little branch” in French), which Bureau reinforced with delicate branch-like glass and metal light fixtures. The Parisian-inspired space offers sophisticated, yellow-tinted lighting with clean, dark walls.

Burns and Beyerl Architects

Architects:
Gary Beyerl
Edward Twohey

Address:
1010 S Wabash, Chicago, IL 60605

About Burns and Beyerl Architects

Burns and Beyerl Architects specializes in high-end, single-family residences and restaurants, with a focus on sustainable practices. Gary Beyerl, AIA, co-founded the firm in 1993 with his now-retired partner Steven Burns. Beyerl leads the firm with Edward Twohey, AIA, who joined the firm in 1994. The firm is mainly known for its luxury residential projects but, under Twohey’s leadership, there was a surge of hospitality and restaurant designs. One of its famous clients is Top Chef runner-up Dale Levitski’s Chicago restaurant, Frog N’ Snail.

Featured Projects

Blues legend Buddy Guy contracted Burns and Beyerl to design his club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, one of downtown’s go-to blues venues. For Guy, a true blues bar shouldn’t be too polished, and should have a vintage vibe that transports its clients back in time. It was built in the style of old-school blues venues with a retro look. Its interiors are adorned with exposed red-brick walls and its white and blue tile floors add a fun splash of color to the funky space. Some of the additional features of Buddy Guy’s Legends are a main stage, billiard room, and private party facility. Burns and Beryl designed a two-story 16,000 square foot building with the bar located on the first floor and Guy’s production offices are located on the second floor.

Chipman Design Architecture

Address:
1350 East Touhy Ave. First Flr. East, Des Plaines, IL

About Chipman Design Architecture

Established more than seven decades ago, Chipman Design Architecture was the first professional architectural firm that focused on commercial planning and design. When John Chipman took over his father’s firm, he elevated the firm and has gained national recognition. Under his leadership, the firm has become an award-winning firm that is often named one of the country’s finest design companies. For three consecutive years, Chipman Design Architecture was named one of the Top 300 Architectural firms in the country by Architectural Record magazine. Interior Design Magazine has also included the firm in its annual Top 100 Hospitality Giants for two consecutive years.

Featured Projects

Time Out Market is probably the firm’s most ambitious restaurant project to date. This is one of the largest food halls in Chicago with nearly 500,000 square feet of space. The firm’s design of the facade is reminiscent of a warehouse. It has a very industrial look and, despite its 600 seater-capacity, the food hall has enough space for diners to peruse the various food stations from local vendors. It is a three-story establishment that has three bars, an open demonstration kitchen, and a designated area for retail and local art.

D + K interiors, Architecture, and Management

Architects:
Corey Dunnem
Paul Kozlowski

Address:
1147 W. Ohio, Suite 103, Chicago, IL 60642

About D + K interiors, Architecture, and Management

Some of the best restaurants in the country are designed by D+K Interiors, Architecture, and Management. It is a full-service design, architecture, and interiors firm that has works found at the Times Square and at the Dolce Italian in Chicago’s Godfrey Hotel. Co-owner and Principal Corey Dunne focuses his designs around attention to detail and function, while fellow Co-owner and Principal Paul Kozlowski focuses on ecologically responsible designs and new smart building technology. D+K boasts a collaborative design process that will involve research on a client’s target market and intentional design that will improve service flow.

Featured Projects

The firm’s design of the Backdoor Saloon has been nominated for the International Restaurant and Bar Design Award for Surface Interiors. The restaurant, which features locally sourced food and craft cocktails, is a completely immersive space with rich details from the architecture to the interior decorating. A tin-pressed ceiling, ornate wall-to-wall bar, and warm wood wainscoting help give the space its Victorian-era Wild West feel.

Heisler Hospitality

Architects:
Matt Eisler
Kevin Heisner

Awards:
Chicago Magazine Emerging Power Players,
StarChefs Rising Star Restaurateurs Award

Address:
2001 W Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612

About Heisler Hospitality

Hospitality entrepreneur Matt Eisler teamed up with designer Kevin Heisner in 2006 to form Heisler Hospitality, a firm that creates some of the best concept-driven restaurants in the city. The duo was named “Emerging Power Players” by Chicago Magazine, and Eisler was included in Crain’s Chicago Business’s “40 under 40” list. In 2015, they earned a StarChefs Rising Star Restaurateurs Award. Some of Chicago’s newest restaurants and bars have hired Heisler Hospitality for its contemporary design. Many of the firm’s clients have been included in the annual Best Bar Lists of Chicago Magazine and Bon Appetit’s 50 Best Restaurants in the City.

Featured Projects

Opened December 2013, Heisler’s Sportsman’s Club offers craft beers from around the world and has a diverse cocktail menu that changes daily. In honor of the original Sportsman’s Club bar, which served the neighborhood’s Polish immigrants, the renovated tavern has preserved pieces of the bar’s history like the original art deco bar. The bar features exposed brick, wood, and leather wall-lined booths, and metal-grated open shelving. Sportsman’s Club was named one of Chicago’s Best Bars by GQ Magazine, and it was a runner up for Bar of the Year in Time Out Chicago’s 2017 Bar Awards.

Moss

Address:
2855 West Diversey Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

About Moss

Moss is a full-service architecture and design studio serving residential, retail, and commercial sectors. It assists clients from site selection through the permitting and construction process. Moss creates site-specific designs with an emphasis on integrating natural light and air, creating and protecting green spaces, and using sustainable materials. The firm was co-founded by Laura Cripe and Matt Nardella, AIA, LEED-AP. Cripe is a certified permaculturist and urban farmer and manages the firm’s business development. Graduate of the NewSchool of Architecture, Nardella returned to his hometown of Chicago to establish his own firm after spending a decade designing sustainable architecture in San Diego. Moss was selected to be part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards Exhibit. The firm also won the Historic Preservation Award for its adaptive reuse development project in Logan Square.

Featured Projects

Moss designed Appellation and Pastoral, a restaurant and bread and cheese shop. Located in Andersonville, the space was previously occupied by a small grocery store. The firm gave it a more updated look by using natural materials and a modern layout that can accommodate a separate restaurant and shop. A custom wine rack separates the retail and restaurant spaces. The cozy restaurant centers around a slab-wood bar accented by exposed brick around the far walls. The marketplace shows off a striking, pressed-tin ceiling.

Rugo / Raff Ltd. Architects

Architects:
Steven Rugo
Dennis Raffensperger

Address:
20 W Hubbard Street, Floor #5, Chicago, IL 60654

About Rugo / Raff Ltd. Architects

Multidisciplinary Rugo / Raff Ltd. Architects provides new construction and historic renovation for residential and retail projects. Before starting his own practice, Principal and Founder Steven Rugo, AIA, worked with the prominent Chicago firm Booth Hansen. The firm’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, Traditional Home magazine, and LUXE Magazine. One of the firm’s first restaurant client is Flat Top Grill Chain; the firm has designed several branches, which can be found all over the country. The firm eventually built a professional relationship with the Alinea Group. It has worked on designs for Alinea Group’s award-winning restaurants like Aviary, Next, and Roister.

Featured Projects

Founded by the world-renowned chef Grant Achatz, Next Restaurant won a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in America. The Michelin Star restaurant changes its menu every four months to provide a unique culinary experience to every customer. The design needed to be simple to match the restaurant’s fluctuating moods. A highlight of the design is a private dining room featuring an LED-backlit wall in bright pink and blues that serves as a high contrast for the rest of the restaurant’s dark earthy tones.

SPACE Architects + Planners

Address:
2149 North Talman Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

About SPACE Architects + Planners

In the last 17 years, SPACE Architects + Planners has designed some of the hippest spaces in Chicago. Jean Dufresne and Jay Keller established the firm with the goal of creating a collective of architects and designers who have a passion for creating modern spaces. SPACE Architects became known when it started developing contemporary condominiums in Wicker Park and, soon enough, its restaurant projects started to gain traction in the media. The firm’s works are often featured by online magazines such as Curbed Chicago, Eater Chicago, and, Dwell.

Featured Projects

BIXI is the firm’s latest project, and has made waves in the Chicago restaurant scene. Brewpubs are the newest food trend in Chicago and BIXI is the newest addition to the bunch. But unlike its competitors, BIXI puts an Asian twist on the usual pub offerings. The firm designed a contemporary restaurant with subtle nods to the restauranteur’s Asian heritage. The owners want its patrons to enjoy their drinks in peace so SPACE Architects opted for a dark and moody feel for the first floor. Its focal point is the mural of the restaurant’s namesake, Bixi, a Chinese dragon turtle that symbolizes the owner’s journey in the industry.

Woodhouse Tinucci Architects

Architects:
David Woodhouse
Andy Tinucci

Awards:
AIA Chicago Firm of the Year Award

Address:
230 W Superior, 6th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654

About Woodhouse Tinucci Architects

David Woodhouse, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), started his own firm in 1987 after working with two prominent Chicago firms, Stanley Tigerman and Associates and Booth Hansen and Associates. In 2014, he was joined by Andy Tinucci, AIA, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Advanced Professional (LEED AP), whose work has received the Architectural Record Houses Award and AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award. Together they formed Woodhouse Tinucci Architects, an award-winning firm that provides detail-oriented architecture and interior design services. Woodhouse Tinucci Architects wins an AIA award almost every year and it has been internationally published in over 60 publications.

Featured Projects

The firm’s design for More Cupcakes won two AIA Chicago small project awards. The biggest challenge for this project was its limited space. More Cupcakes was only 550 square feet, but the firm was able to design a shop that had enough space for its clients and a full kitchen. Customers can quickly peruse through the cupcakes sitting on open-glass shelving. While the butter cream-colored backlighting is broken up by custom-designed white swirling lights, made to resemble frosting. The project was also featured in Chicago Architect, Architect Magazine, and CS Interiors.