Bar Design, Equipment Supply & Installation
The centerpiece of any cocktail lounge is the bar itself, and After is no exception. An elegant Tobin Ellis bar by Perlick, backlit for a twilight atmosphere, provides a stunning look as soon as you walk in the establishment. That bar is not only the focal point of the establishment, it also epitomizes the partnership between the owners, the team at Boelter, the contractor and the architects. From coming up with the concept to helping source just the right bar for the establishment to working construction around the installation, the team came together to create a beautiful place for people to gather.
Teaming Up for Success
The After lounge is the creation of the talented pair of restaurant entrepreneurs, Michael Muser and Chef Curtis. The two opened Ever, a two-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, in spring of 2022. The building had a space available next to the restaurant, and the two felt it would be the perfect place to build a bar for people to extend a night out after dinner at Ever, or just come in from the neighborhood with a drink.
One thing that helped everything go smoothly on After, from concept to grand opening, was bringing the team together that had completed Ever just a few short months before. Muser and Chef Curtis knew they wanted Boelter involved from the very beginning to help with the design and sourcing equipment for the new bar. After working together on Ever, the two knew that partnering with Boelter would ensure the high quality and expert kitchen design they wanted with After as well. They also worked with the same architecture group for both Ever and After, Lawton Stanley Architects.
“I was excited to work with Lajiness and his team from Boelter,” says Micah Stanley, principal at Lawton Stanley Architects. “Their expertise in sourcing equipment is invaluable. They worked closely with Chef Duffy and the bar team, asking specific questions to find exactly what was needed, from the tiniest detail.”
The project included the bar and cocktail lounge, a banquet hall for catering events of up to 80 guests, and a kitchen to serve both facilities. “While there’s a simplified menu in After compared to what’s served next door at Ever, we were still aware of special needs for this facility,” says Chris Lajiness, project manager, Boelter. “We worked closely with Chef Duffy to design a kitchen versatile enough to produce the small bites and small plates for the bar as well as the catering menu for the Canvas by Ever banquet facility. It also has Chef Duffy’s own preferences as far as equipment, such as substituting a cooking suite with a Jade range, two oven bases, two hot tops and a fryer, all set in curbs, which is what Chef Duffy prefers.”
Flying Over Hurdles
Lajiness also worked with Stanley to fine tune the kitchen design. “We came up with the general plan, and then the team from Boelter really helped with figuring out which equipment would work, and where,” Stanley says. “We had a lot to work into a relatively small space, from the walk-in to the hotline, and Lajiness helped with figuring out those dimensions.”
Once the design was in place, the timing of the orders was of utmost importance. “Lead times are longer now than they used to be, but with our experience in the industry and relationships that we’ve fostered, we know what to expect. I attribute our success in getting everything delivered in a timely manner as much to the owner placing the order when it was needed as it was to our advanced planning.”
Planning ahead also came into play with installing the bar. “We had to work with a general contractor to leave part of a wall down until the bar was delivered, due to its size,” Lajiness says.
In the end, all the planning and coordination between Boelter, the architects, the general contractor, Muser and Chef Curtis helped make the work on After go off without a hitch. Now the establishment serves as the perfect complement to Ever, and is a jewel in the crown of its Chicago neighborhood.
To see Boelter's work at Ever, click here.