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Margaret Sutherlin / MEDILL

Bartenders at Tavern at the Park are expecting a crowd Tuesday night.

Restaurants roll out red, white and blue to make a little green

by Margaret Sutherlin
Nov 06, 2012


Ray Whitehouse / MEDILL

Donny de Castro, managing partner at Tavern at the Park, says business has benefitted from having Obama campaign headquarters upstairs.

Want to Watch? Here are a few different places to catch election returns

 GOP official election night party
The Wit Hotel
201 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60601
7:00 p.m. RSVP required

3224 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 276-6809

Chicago Blues Mamas for Obama
Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave., Chicago, IL 60626
7:00 p.m., tickets required

WBEZ & 312 election night viewing party, featuring The Statues of Liberty
3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60657
7:00 p.m., free 
Restaurants and bars around Chicago are showing their red, white and blue, and hoping to make some green on election night.

The restaurant industry stands to see a significant bump in business from election night viewing parties as customers head out to enjoy the excitement of watching state-by-state returns. Even restaurants without any planned activities are anticipating increased traffic and delivery service.

At the Living Room Bar at the W Hotel City Center, director of restaurants Jayne Davis said that instead of the usual lounge background music, the bar will be showing election coverage on all the televisions.

“At the bar people are really here from all over the country and I think there has been a spark of healthy and engaging conversation this year between guests,” said Davis.

Davis also noted that the hotel’s restaurant had noticed a spike in room-service orders when the presidential debates were televised. She has noticed customers have been particularly engaged over the past several months and expects to see more people milling about Tuesday evening.

This election night in Chicago also has a major difference compared with 2008 because the Obama campaign is not hosting a public gathering in Grant Park. Instead, the campaign is holding a closed event for campaign workers at McCormick Place. That should mean more people are out looking for other places to celebrate.

For Tavern at the Park, the boost in business from the election has more to do with its location just downstairs from the Obama campaign headquarters. Monday night when President Obama took the stage for his last campaign speech in Washington D.C., a crowd of campaign staffers in Chicago packed into the narrow bar at Tavern for their own rally.

“We had about 150 people come downstairs, who ended up spending a good portion of the night with us,” said Donny de Castro, managing partner of Tavern at the Park. “We’ve been really positively impacted…and we’re lucky the campaign staff considers us their lunchroom.”

De Castro said the difference in business has been big.

With so many planned parties at restaurants and bars, Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said that it would be hard to predict the extent of the increase in business. He did note that whenever there is a televised event, restaurants also see an increase in delivery business and he expects to see more of that this year as people watch returns.

At the new J.W. Marriot downtown, Amanda Kullman, manager of the hotel’s Florentine eatery, was ready for a crowd of Chicagoans heading out after work.

“Because we’re in the financial district we think the people here in this area are really into it, and we’re close to McCormick, too, so just being down here in it is a perk,” said Kullman.