Chez inhabits a building with a rich and compelling history. The building was designed in 1917 by architects Marshall and Fox, who are best known for the Drake Hotel and the Blackstone Hotel. Although the building was originally built as a bakery for the Horn & Hardart Automat Company, it also housed a speakeasy known as the Chez Pierre, which clandestinely operated during the 1920s.
After the repeal of Prohibition, a new nightclub opened its doors under the name Chez Paree and became one of the most popular live entertainment venues in the country. For nearly 30 years, the Chez Paree played host to the greatest legends of stage, screen, and radio—Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sophie Tucker, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Pearl Bailey, and the list goes on and on. During the radio years, these shows were often broadcast around the nation.
A classic supper club, the Chez Paree could accommodate 650 patrons who would enjoy steakhouse fare and a couple rounds of drinks before the brightly-costumed “Adorables” warmed up the crowd with a dance routine as the house band swung for the crowd. The stars often played three shows a night and, between shows, they were expected to mingle with patrons who paid an additional fee in a private bar known as the Key Club.
The Chez Paree isn’t the only cultural institution with which the building is associated. From 1939 to 1949, it also served as a home to the New Bauhaus school, founded by László Moholy-Nagy. The school remained in the building until it became part of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Today, Chez (as it’s now called) has been reimagined as a thoroughly modern event space with an elegant design aesthetic. Still a family affair 70 years later, Chez is in the hands of the Schatz family, who owned the Chez Paree during its heyday.