As we’ve noted before, Studio 54 owner-turned-glitzy hotelier Ian Schrager is in the process of acquiring the Ambassador Hotel, and with it the famous Pump Room. Schrager’s take on the iconic dining room will no doubt be bleeding-edge chic (if his previous properties are any indication, we’re in for sleek lines, plush fabrics, splashes of neon, and wallet-busting cocktails), but at what cost?
On his Sun-Times blog, Dave Hoekstra laments the golden days of the Pump Room, which in its heyday almost singlehandedly established Chicago as a worthy stopping point for the coastal elite and Hollywood celebs. “John Belushi ate caviar with his fingers and Sammy Davis, Jr. sang for his supper,” Hoekstra writes. “After pop star Phil Collins was refused entry to the Pump Room because of its dress code, he titled his next album ‘No Jacket Required.’”
But it doesn’t take a particularly astute cultural critic to note that Belushi and Davis have gone on to the great stage in the sky, that caviar isn’t really so chic anymore, and that Hoekstra’s article was the first media mention of Phil Collins we’ve seen approximately since we were in junior high. For all its glamour and allure, the Pump Room’s been in decline for a long while — on January 30, when cabaret singer Nan Mason delivers the restaurant’s last live performance and the dining room shuts its doors (at least, the last before the Schrager era begins), it’ll be a sad ending, sure, but hardly a surprising one.
Pump Room Swan Song? [Scratch Crib/Sun-Times]