Ambassador Flag Flies Again in Chicago

Journal Hotels rebrands former PUBLIC locale

Boutique Design

Journal Hotels has debuted the Ambassador Chicago hotel in the city’s Gold Coast neighborhood following a rebranding. Built in 1926, the high-profile, 285-key property operated for decades as the Ambassador East Hotel before being renamed and reconcepted under Ian Schrager’s PUBLIC flag in 2011.

“We’re thrilled to add a legendary hotel such as Ambassador Chicago to our portfolio,” says Stephen Brandman, who was named ceo of Journal Hotels earlier this year. “The rebranding will return an iconic Chicago property back to its roots through creative activations and allow Journal to not only grow in a critical market, but continue to celebrate iconic spaces that invite discovery.”

The announcement of Brandman’s hiring by Journal also included information on the hotelier’s plan to rebrand the PUBLIC property in Chicago, which had been purchased last year by Gaw Capital. Schrager, meantime, recently opened a representative of his PUBLIC brand in New York.

Drawing inspiration from the city’s Golden Age, design details at the Ambassador include vaulted ceilings and original crown moldings, as well as glass doorknobs, original mail chutes and wrought-iron accents. To balance the past and present, those elements are juxtaposed against modern furnishings; rotating exhibitions of contemporary art; and painting, photography and sculpture installations.

Locally based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is returning to the property to operate all F&B throughout the hotel, including its adjoining restaurant. Slated to reopen late this fall, that venue served as a celebrity hotspot during the Jazz Age and is currently being reconfigured. The restaurant group previously ran the space formerly known as the Pump Room from July 1976 to January 1998.

“Lettuce has a lot of history at this location,” says Rich Melman, founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. “Our first restaurant here was exciting and so much fun that I'm thrilled to be doing it again in a more modern way."

The property is also home to a 24-hour fitness center, a second restaurant concept, and local programming and amenities curated by Chicago-based artisans and chefs.

In addition to the Ambassador, Los Angeles-based Journal Hotels' portfolio includes three California properties: The Hollywood Roosevelt, Two Bunch Palms and Hotel G.