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Longman & Eagle Owners Close to Opening Promontory in Hyde Park

By Sam Cholke | September 12, 2013 10:10am | Updated on September 12, 2013 4:20pm
 Owners of the Promontory restaurant and venue will meet  Thursday evening with residents during an alderman's meeting.
Owners of the Promontory restaurant and venue will meet  Thursday evening with residents during an alderman's meeting.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) will host a meeting Thursday with owners of Longman & Eagle and the Empty Bottle, who are opening a highly anticipated restaurant and music venue in Hyde Park.

The group announced plans a year ago for the Promontory, a hearth-style eatery and venue in the former Borders bookstore building at 1539 E. 53rd St., and expected to open the restaurant earlier this year.

“I grew up in Chicago, and I’ve been going to Hyde Park since I was a little kid,” Empty Bottle owner Bruce Finkelman told the Sun-Times last September when the plans first went public. “The one thing that always boggled me was that there are so many people down there, and there’s nothing there."

Thursday will be the first time Finkelman and Longman & Eagle owner and chef Jared Wentworth have come before residents to talk about their project in the former bookstore building.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Chicago Theological Union, 5416 S. Cornell Ave.

The Borders closed in 2011 and the University of Chicago quickly bought the property.

Since then, the university has redone the facade and leased space to the Akira clothing store, which opened in November, and Core Power Yoga, which opened in April.

The Promontory was expected to join them early this year, but it wasn’t until August that crews began building the large exterior deck on the back of the building.

"With so many moving parts there was bound to be some delays," Finkelman said in an interview Thursday afternoon.

According to the Promontory’s blog, the interior is being decorated with objects salvaged from other university-owned properties. In December, pictures were posted of teams removing railings, display cases and signs from the former Piccadilly Theater at 1443 E. Hyde Park Blvd.

"I was in the theater a couple of times, and it must have been a beautiful space in the day," Finkelman said.

The theater building was built in 1927, and is now mostly graduate student housing for the university. The actual theater was demolished in 1973 to build a parking garage.

The Promontory was allowed to raid the former lobby, which has remained largely untouched since the theater closed.