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Grace Wins James Beard Award, Not Much to Their Surprise

By Janet Rausa Fuller | May 5, 2014 4:45pm | Updated on May 5, 2014 9:01pm
 The restaurant Grace says it won the James Beard Foundation Award for best restaurant design — except no one's supposed to know that yet.
The restaurant Grace says it won the James Beard Foundation Award for best restaurant design — except no one's supposed to know that yet.
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WEST LOOP — The restaurant Grace won a coveted James Beard Award for restaurant design Monday night — just as a tweet and blog post apparently had announced days earlier.

Winners of the Beard Awards were revealed at a ceremony in New York Monday night. Cookbook and journalism award winners were announced in a separate ceremony on Friday.

But on Friday, the Chicago Tribune tweeted that Grace's architects had won the award for their work on the restaurant at 652 W. Randolph St.

Grace's general manager and partner Michael Muser said chef Curtis Duffy saw the Tribune tweet, and Muser shared the news on his Facebook page on Saturday.

"Grace Wins James Beard Award for best restaurant design!!!!! Congrats to our boys at Lawton Stanley Architects Inc. Im so Proud of you guys!!!," Muser wrote.

Muser said he contacted the architecture firm, which is located in Ravenswood, to also spread the word.

Architect Christopher Lawton said his partner, Micah Stanley, also saw the firm's name on a list posted on a Beard Foundation blog that apparently listed the journalism award winners and the two winners of the restaurant design awards.

They posted the link on their Facebook page. That Beard link, though, is now inactive.

Reached Monday, about two hours before the ceremony, Muser admitted it seemed strange to hear of the win earlier than they expected.

"I'm not exactly sure how they got announced," he said. "Curtis saw it on a tweet from the Chicago Tribune. We picked up on that, checked it out and went from there.

The Tribune late Monday said its tweet was based on one posted Friday by the Beard Foundation's Twitter account. That tweet appears to have been deleted.

Earlier Monday, the Beard Foundation website listed the journalism and book award winners from Friday's ceremony, but not the restaurant design winners. A spokeswoman for the Beard Foundation confirmed via e-mail that the design awards were to be announced Monday night along with the other chef and restaurant awards.

The winners are not told in advance, she said.

When told about the earlier online announcements, she said, "That's odd. No, they haven't been announced to anyone yet (including us!)."

She didn't respond to a request for further comment about the Beard Foundation blog post that has since been taken down.