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Steppenwolf Opening Cafe and Bar As Part of Major Expansion

By Mina Bloom | January 21, 2016 2:10pm
 A renderring of the proposed expansion of Steppenwolf Theater, which includes a 400-seat theater.
A renderring of the proposed expansion of Steppenwolf Theater, which includes a 400-seat theater.
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Steppenwolf Theatre

LINCOLN PARK — Steppenwolf Theatre Company is opening a café and bar as part of their major expansion plans, it was announced Thursday. 

The café and bar will complement its new 80-seat theater at 1700 N. Halsted St., a building that is connected to Steppenwolf's lobby.

Boka Restaurant Group, which is responsible for lauded restaurants like Girl & The Goat and Momotaro, is collaborating with Steppenwolf on the café and bar, which is slated to open in spring. The name and the exact opening date have yet to be announced.

Chef Chris Pandel, who runs the kitchen at both Swift & Sons and Balena, will curate the menu and Studio K, in collaboration with Grip, the agency that will design the space. During daytime hours, the bar will serve artisanal coffee, espresso and tea from La Colombe.

Once complete, the new 80-seat black box theater, which is also expected to open in the spring, will offer a range of programming, including ensemble-based projects, comedy, music, solo performances, dance, visiting theater companies and more. The theatre company is planning to release more details at a later time. 

"We wanted to create a space that elevates the notion of what a full theatre experience can be,” Anna D. Shapiro, artistic director for Steppenwolf, said in a prepared statement.

“Steppenwolf is a familial environment, and for a long time we have craved a comfortable setting where our audiences, artists, staff and friends can interact — the café & bar is the perfect solution. With the addition of a flexible black box theater we’ll be able to re-connect with our roots as a company, allowing more opportunities for our ensemble to experiment as well as welcoming new artists and genres, which is all very exciting."

Steppenwolf built its current theater at 1650 N. Halsted St. in 1991 and has since grown to become one of the country's premier theater companies, with productions attended by about 200,000 people a year. 

The former artistic director, Martha Lavey, told DNAinfo Chicago in 2014 that the theatre company was "bursting out of the building."

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