The city of Aurora will soon have a new, fine dining restaurant to boast about, right next to Paramount Theatre in Aurora’s downtown theater district, just in time for the launch of Paramount’s 2019-20 Broadway Season in September.
Noted Chicago restaurateur Amy Morton announced the debut last week, accompanied by Tim Rater, president and CEO of the Aurora Civic Center Authority, and Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin.
Located at 5 E. Galena Blvd., the upscale eatery will be a cornerstone of the newly redeveloped John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center.
Morton’s new restaurant, as yet unnamed, will cater to theater patrons and locals alike with a wide-ranging menu focusing on steaks, pasta and value.
The restaurant will inhabit the historic 1920s art deco building once home to the famous Bloch and Kuhl department store.
Open and filled with light, the space is being meticulously restored as both classic and contemporary, enhanced by a modern take on Pullman booths and spectacular fixtures. Butcher-block paper covered white tablecloths will create an air of simplicity and sophistication yet remain approachable and warm.
The brass-topped bar, with a bead-board façade, will be the restaurant’s central hub, ideally located to attract an after work crowd for happy hour, drinks before the show and for a casual lunch or dinner.
“Aurora is putting its money where its mouth is and has clearly committed to revitalizing the city,” said Morton. “Just seven years ago, Paramount Theatre launched a very successful and critically-acclaimed Broadway Series, and already, it has grown to be the mostly highly subscribed-to theater in Illinois, and the second largest in the nation. We look forward to debuting Paramount’s ‘sister restaurant’ this fall, ready to welcome the theater’s 41,000 subscribers to downtown Aurora, four times a season, eight shows a week, at times filling its gorgeous, 1,800-plus seat theater.”
An innovative, veteran restaurateur, Morton is already known for her current, critically-acclaimed restaurants FOUND Kitchen and Social House, a shared-plate, farm-to-table concept in Evanston; The Barn Steakhouse, the North Shore’s “premiere” steakhouse and a nod to her father and legendary Chicago restaurateur Arnold Morton, also in Evanston; and Patty2, a healthy burger joint on the campus of Northwestern University.
“Amy Morton isn’t just one of Chicago’s top restaurateurs. She is a visionary with a mission,” said Rater. “In addition to serving delicious food in a terrific space, Amy and her team are committed to restoring the architectural and economic significance of downtown Aurora by redeveloping one of the most prominent properties in the city into one of the top dining destinations in Chicago’s western suburbs.”
While announcing two new restaurants in the same block — Altiro Latin Fusion and Mora Asian Fusion — during his State of the City address last month, Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin hinted at a third upscale restaurant also coming to Galena Boulevard in the heart of downtown Aurora.
“I am beyond excited for Amy Morton to join the Aurora community and for her new restaurant to become part of downtown’s growing entertainment and dining tapestry,” Irvin said. “We have worked on these plans for months and it is clear why Amy Morton is one of the best restaurateurs in the industry. She is innovative, enterprising and committed. Much like Paramount Theatre itself, her new restaurant will be a destination for our local restaurants and visitors from throughout the country.”
A life spent in the industry has empowered Morton with an inherent sense of hospitality and design, which plays out across her restaurants in a way that welcomes guests and emulates a sense of belonging with dining rooms that feel more like her living rooms than eateries. Likewise, Morton’s new Aurora outpost will have a great vibe and top-quality food and service, with an estimated average check price per-person including beverage of $35 for dinner and around $20 for lunch.
The new John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center is a project by The Community Builders Inc., a non-profit developer, in partnership with Paramount Theatre, the city of Aurora, Invest Aurora and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The 80,000-square foot mixed-use development also brings to downtown Aurora 38 affordable, loft-style apartments on the second and third floors designed to attract and support working artists in downtown Aurora, and a street-level gallery to display residents’ works of art.
Paramount Theatre’s 2019-20 Broadway Season opens this fall with Newsies, the Disney family musical about newsboys who take on a greedy news tycoon, Sept. 4 through Oct. 20; followed by a blockbuster version of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, Nov. 13, 2019, through Jan. 19, 2020; the world premiere musical The Secret of My Success, based on the hit 1987 film starring Michael J. Fox, Feb. 12 through March 29, 2020; and the Midwest regional premiere of Kinky Boots, April 29 through June 14, 2020.
Broadway Series packages start as low as $72.
In addition to its Broadway Series, Paramount presents internationally known comedians, music stars, dance events and family shows, and on most Mondays, screens a classic movie for just $1. For information, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount Theatre box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.
SOURCE: city of Aurora news release, photos from FOUND Kitchen and The Barn Steakhouse websites
About Amy Morton
Restaurateur Amy Morton returned to open Found after taking a 10-year hiatus to raise a family. Morton, daughter of Chicago restaurant legend Arnie Morton, has more than 25 years experience in the industry.
She is best known for Mirador, her “chic bistro” (Food and Wine), her late-night lounge the Blue Room, and her uncanny sense of working a room.
Her resume includes over a decade of working side by side with her father. Morton’s natural ability connect with guests was paralleled only by her father’s.
She learned the business from the ground up, working nearly every position from a server at Morton’s Steak House to Director of Recruitment and Training a position, during which she oversaw the hiring and training of all management and front of house employees for Arnie’s Restaurant, Morton’s Market Place, Arnie’s North and First Street Pier.
She spent several years keenly focused on the Private Dining venues within the group, and was responsible for increasing sales dramatically during this time.
Morton opened her first restaurant, The Café, with her brother Michael Morton (of Nine Steakhouse and La Cave) in 1988 in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. She went on to open her best-known endeavors, Mirador and The Blue Room, in the Old Town neighborhood soon after in 1989.
Her last stint prior to starting her family was as director of operations for the KDK restaurants Marche, Vivo, RedLight and Gioco, a post she held until 2000. Morton oversaw all day-to-day operations of the group, both front and back of house, and was a key player in the concept development and opening of Gioco.
At Found, Morton oversees all day-to-day operations in the restaurant. Her personal mission is to make a difference in her community and to leave the planet a place that the next generation can not only flourish in, but also be proud of. She is a long-time board member of Connections for the Homeless, an Evanston-based nonprofit which she works with to fill positions at Found.
Morton resides in Evanston with her husband Neal and their three daughters, Ruby, Abra, and Taluhla.
SOURCE: Illinois Restaurant Association