For diners in a big city, going out can be an exhausting, all-night ordeal spent trekking across town from one restaurant to another cocktail bar to an entirely separate late-night lounge. But a new Chicago concept, Celeste, houses an entire evening’s worth of activities in one location.
Occupying an industrial building crafted by famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan in 1888, Celeste has multiple stories that feature two—soon to be three—standalone concepts, each providing customers with a decidedly different feel and function. On the first floor lies The Bar, a high-energy destination dedicated to small plates and classic cocktails with an Old Chicago twist, such as the Brown Derby made with aged Barton Bourbon, grapefruit, and honey. Just one floor up is The Deco Room, a softly lit enclave featuring glass chandeliers, a well-rounded wine list, and a lineup of fine-dining dinner options.
This summer, Celeste plans to debut The Garden, a secluded rooftop green space that gives guests a chance to take in the famous Chicago skyline, while another bar on the third floor is also in the works.
“The place was built in a modular way, and it can accommodate organically whatever the guest wants,” says Nader Hindo, one of Celeste’s three owners.
“If they don’t want to go to the first floor, they can go straight to the second floor and have a drink and a meal and just hang out there,” he adds. “There are nights when people want to go have cocktails on the first floor, and there are people who specifically like a certain floor on a certain night.”
Rather than separate concepts, Hindo refers to The Bar, The Deco Room—which accommodate 120 and 65 guests, respectively—and The Garden as “different layers and different flavors of the concept.”
“Everybody wants something different,” he says. “What makes us unique is that we’re trying to bridge the different layers together—from the food and beverage to the ambiance—and do it in a very intimate setting.”
This intimacy stems from the building’s layout, which expands vertically rather than horizontally—a constraint that made developing and executing the concept rather tricky.
“We had to make the design and layout of the operation very efficient and utilitarian,” Hindo says. “We couldn’t afford to sacrifice real estate for anything that’s not necessary.”
The design has also posed an operational challenge, one the management team answered with kitchens on each floor and a prep room in the basement.
But this vertical approach, something seen more often in New York than in Chicago, is not only an ode to the old days of Chicago, but also one of the things Hindo says attracts consumers to the concept. “It’s something that’s been missed,” he says, “and we’re bringing it back.”