, one of Chicago’s freshest restos to hit the city’s outstanding culinary scene. While we could oogle the menu all day, we were just as taken by the decor–maybe moreso. Here, we chat with Patrick Cullen, Owner/Operator of Presidio, to find out more about the restaurant space that can hold its own against the chicest spaces.
WHAT DROVE THE CONCEPT AND DESIGN OF THE RESTAURANT?
My family is from the Bay Area and I have very fond memories of growing-up and visiting all of my cool aunts and uncles in San Francisco. Many of these relatives worked in the service industry as well. As a young kid and a teenager nothing was more exciting than visiting my family at the restaurants where they worked. That was an experience and feeling that I wanted to recreate. We talked a lot initially about building a space where people felt sexy but also comfortable.
ANY FAVORITE MEMORIES OF THE PROCESS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
I think anyone who has opened a new business for the first time will tell you that there are many, many things that you don’t even realize you need to understand and address in order to open your doors. The entire journey, like the first time you do anything significant in life, is one that I will always remember. The most rewarding aspect for me was finding an outlet for all of the ability and passion I always felt I possessed.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN ELEMENT IN THIS SPACE?
My good friend, John Wolf of Wolf Home Design, worked side-by-side with me and my team to design the entire space. His background is heavily in residential interiors and that is reflected throughout the space. Many guests have commented that they feel like they’re visiting their friends sleek urban loft when they’re at Presidio. That is certainly a huge compliment to what John was able to accomplish and it fits our concept perfectly.
WHAT IS ONE COMPONENT OF THIS DESIGN THAT READERS COULD INCORPORATE INTO THEIR HOMES?
I really enjoy the way John was able to take a large, open space and create several different “moments” within that space. Everything blends perfectly together but each area of the lounge and dining room has its own vibe. On a smaller scale, he was able to seamlessly blend the pre-existing brick and reclaimed barn wood with additional elements such as custom metal work and lighter colored wood floors. Each element is unique and stands out on its own; but together they create a greater whole.
WHAT IS ONE THING RESTAURANTS DO REALLY WELL IN TERMS OF DESIGN, DECOR, ETC THAT INDIVIDUALS SHOULD COPY?
I know that Shaun, our executive chef, and I did a lot of sitting and discussing each area of the restaurant. We thought about how guests would enjoy each area and how we could best utilize each space to maximize that guest experience. There were several times when we had to have something redesigned or even removed because we felt it would impede this enjoyment. I think that idea translates well to designing any space. Asking “how will this space be used,” “what can we add or change to best maximize the space and how it should ideally be enjoyed.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE DISH (OR COCKTAIL!) ON THE MENU?
Shaun has a menu that evolves seasonally and is updated every week. I love that because I love to eat with the seasons – what’s most fresh, what feels most satisfying depending on the weather. There are definitely staples that our guests (and staff) love. The burger has been a huge hit. He also makes a killer steak tartar and there’s always a fresh, handmade pasta on the menu. I’m the same way with my cocktail drinking. I prefer gin when the weather is warmer and whiskey when Chicago winter begins to set-in. This summer, I’ve been loving our “Flash in the Pan” which is gin based with grapefruit juice and black pepper syrup, topped with fresh mint – it’s the perfect balance and incredibly refreshing.