Chicago clubbers, meet punk rock. The brains behind Sound-Bar, Y Bar, Crescendo and Zentra recently opened Hearts, the highly-anticipated, edgy new concept that took almost 3 years to develop. The all-black and neon red-colored, modern-meets-retro themed nightclub has set up shop in a 4,700 square foot warehouse-like space near Goose Island (1117 North Branch Street), creating a loft party with penthouse flair.
Designer Rocco Laudizio of Slick+Designusa, who won awards for his work on the Sound Bar Hospitality Group’s other clubs, brings a different kind of vibrancy and intensity to Hearts, this time in a glam rock theme. Full-length glass panes printed with black and white photos of rockers and other celebrities encircle the main bar at the center of the cube-shaped room. Underneath the photos, black leather couches line the perimeter walls with additional booth seating and tables for bottle service at the front.
“We wanted to create something that was similar to a club you would see in Vegas, Miami or Europe, something really different for Chicago,” says Laudizio. “With all the seating being elevated, it’s almost like a VIP or stage like-setting.”
In the back room, visible through a magenta bar-back, the black banquettes encircle a dance floor lit by purple-accented spotlights, energy-saving LED lights and a spinning disco ball overhead. Artists will spin house and lounge beats on the weekends in the sleek, black DJ booth that features DJs every Thursday, including Demitri from Paris.
Outside, a minimalist, glossy black exterior with just a little neon-red heart adds an element of exclusivity, and a black tile-lined hallway flanked with stainless steel and slate gray accents furthers the sophisticated-urban feel.
“Ten years ago this neighborhood would have been scary for a woman to walk to her car,” Laudizio says of the club’s location, just a throwing distance from the Cabrini Green Housing Projects, which saw the last of its tenants move out just this month as the city prepares for demolition. The surrounding area toward the west, called Goose Island after the former industrial and shipping area it once was has gone through a dramatic redevelopment in the past two years. The Hearts group was just lucky to find a former club space with a much coveted 4 a.m. liquor license located right in the middle of the development, Laudizio says.
Top-shelf Martinis, specialty cocktails and the usual liquor, beers and wine rundown span the drink menu at the bar. A diverse, but well-heeled and “pretty” crowd, from 20-somethings to 40-somethings have flocked to the club since it opened. As a result, Laudizio says, there’s an emphasis on service here, but at affordable prices.