STREETERVILLE — Dale Schwartz knows there's a stigma surrounding bowling alleys.
But calling Pinstripes just a bowling alley would be like aiming for the gutter: off the mark.
The 30,000-square-foot bistro, bowling and bocce venue will open Saturday at 435 E. Illinois St.
The Italian-American themed restaurant is the seventh of its kind opened by Schwartz, a Cleveland native who gave up a career in private equity to launch the concept. The first Pinstripes opened in suburban Northbrook eight years ago before spreading to Oak Brook and South Barrington, among other locales. The Pinstripes opening in River East Plaza will be the first in the city.
"We like places with a community feel to it. Chicago has that," Schwartz said. "Everything we do is sophisticated fun."
Sophistication is evident at Pinstripes, a new hulking presence with an outdoor patio at a riverfront loft building. Customers are greeted by a bar facing a wall of windows, as well as a wine cellar and copious lanes for bocce, a lawn game somewhat similar to curling.
Next to the dining room is an 11-lane bowling alley furnished with large, leather seating. Downstairs is a white tablecloth private room that can be reserved for events. The White Sox, among others, already have used it.
Hosting events, which makes up nearly half of Pinstripes' business, is what Schwartz thinks will distinguish the restaurant from other retailers who tried and failed in River East Plaza, a vintage loft building that is being converted to apartments. Target Corp. is reportedly circling another large storefront in the building left vacant by upscale grocer Fox & Obel, but a company spokeswoman declined to comment.
"All those [failed retailer] circumstances are a little unique," Schwartz said.
Pinstripes' menu includes Italian-American favorites, including pizza made in a pizza oven. The menu includes chicken parmesan for $20, and dinner entrees, including a filet mignon trio — three filets — with mashed potatoes and asparagus for $29. Pizzas start at $13.
Schwartz said he searched for a suitable Downtown restaurant location for five years, even checking out the Esquire Theater and the River North building where Eataly opened. He finally pulled the trigger at River East Plaza because of the riverfront "inside/outside" feel, as well as the bevy of residential projects under construction in Streeterville, including the apartment conversion underway above his new bar.
"This area is growing," he said.
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