A new trend is sweeping across the Chicago event industry, unifying the people that take part in producing live experiences with the places that host them. Established event production and catering companies have ventured into opening their own well-equipped spaces, designed for planners, by planners. We took a look at three trailblazers—Kehoe Designs, Paramount Events and The Revel Group—that are making events feel right at home.
The Geraghty from Kehoe Designs
Specializing in floral and décor, Kehoe Designs has been one of the most reputable players in the Chicago event industry for a number of years. In 2015, owner Tom Kehoe had another vision for the company: expanding its services into venue operations and management. To do so, Kehoe purchased a former paper mill in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and completely overhauled the building into a 25,000-square-foot facility that serves as one of the area’s premier venues. The name is inspired by Kehoe’s late mother, Mickey Geraghty Kehoe, who exemplified what it meant to be a welcoming host.
With plenty of natural light, The Geraghty is a breath of fresh air for the culturally dimensional neighborhood. It also offers a maximum capacity of 1,000 guests, so it’s uniquely suited for large format events that can be organized on a large open floor. An expansive parking lot, rigging capability, coat check, house liquor license, catering kitchen, overhead LED lighting, and 32 (yes, 32!) pristine private stall restrooms round out the amenities offered. And when it comes time to decorate, you can skip the extra work and visit the Kehoe Design warehouse—which is right next door. Says Marketing Manager Kim Bakota, “Everything we do is about our clients, and what could be better than having everything they need under one roof?”
The Lakewood from Paramount Events
Since launching in 2011, Paramount Events has made its mark in the local catering business. So much so that, after expanding its operation to an old manufacturing plant in the city’s West Lake District neighborhood last year, owner Jodi Fyfe decided to do something special with all the extra space. The result is The Lakewood, an attractive 40,000-square-foot venue space available for private rentals.
“Everyone keeps pushing west,” says Fyfe of her decision to move into the growingly popular area of Chicago (The Lakewood is proudly named for its intersection at Lake and Wood Streets). The event space, which opened its doors in August 2016, has a maximum capacity of 500 guests. The space is light, bright and airy with dramatic chandeliers (that can be removed, of course) and polished cement floors. There are also various bar, table and chair options available on-site. “Whatever somebody wants is what we are going for,” says Fyfe, noting that a regular request is for innovative and healthy menus. Paramount’s on-site kitchen and growing house are unparalleled, allowing the team to prepare the freshest ingredients just steps away from the event floor.
Revel Fulton Market + Revel Motor Row from The Revel Group
The Revel Group is nearly a household name in the world of Chicago event production, and their latest venture has landed the company in two new neighborhoods. “We started diving into the venue business, and have found ourselves intrigued. It’s been a big focus for us,” says Chief Creative Officer Sarah Banasiak. In summer 2015, the group opened Revel Fulton Market after converting a 30,000-square-foot spice warehouse in the West Loop into an event space for up to 1,400 guests. The former exposed brick has been mostly painted white, which plays beautifully off of the steel and wooden ceiling beams, thereby elevating the industrial space toward a refined aesthetic. Featured inside is one large room, plus adjoining spaces for registration, pre-function, breakout and ancillary activities or lounges.
Located just 10 minutes away in the South Loop is a sister space called Revel Motor Row. It opened in spring 2017 in a historically landmarked building, formerly home to the Chicago Illinois Automobile Club in the 1930s, and then to the civil rights publication, The Chicago Defender, in the 1950s through the early 2000s . The sprawling 50,000-square-foot facility can accommodate up to 2,600 guests across three floors, plus a courtyard. The Garage (once home to the city’s first Cadillac dealership) is located next door and serves as a 5,000-square-foot extension of the main space. “The history holds a special place for Chicagoans,” says Banasiak. “When we discovered it, we were blown away. It’s undeniably cool.”