Architecture | Hospitality and Residential |

SafeHouse Chicago

Marcus Hotels | Chicago, IL | 2017

We were excited as soon as we were approached by The Gettys Group and Epstein to created the restaurant’s fully integrated lighting and lighting control system. After all, who doesn’t love lighting James Bond?!

What It Was

SafeHouse is a spy-themed bar and restaurant that has been an iconic Milwaukee institution since it opened in 1966. In 2015, owner David Baldwin retired and sold the restaurant to Marcus Hotels who made plans to build a Chicago location, the first outside of Milwaukee. The restaurant is located behind an anonymous door and requires a password to enter. After receiving “authorization”, a wall opens and you enter the main restaurant and bar filled with spy themed memorabilia and décor.

What We Did

We were excited as soon as we were approached by The Gettys Group and Epstein to created the restaurant’s fully integrated lighting and lighting control system. After all, who doesn’t love lighting James Bond?! Because the restaurant is located in the basement of a hotel building, we worked closely with the design team to design lighting around existing duct and pipework. We embraced this and made a ‘feature out of a bug’ by uplighting the ceiling to provide an ambient glow. In addition, we used carefully positioned and controlled fixtures so that room would have a distinctive feel, with layers of color and intensity. Museum influenced lighting solutions were used throughout the restaurant, including indirect lighting for the tables and track lighting to pinpoint and feature specific decorative elements and objects.

Why It Worked

Our favorite projects are those where we get to help tell a particular story and create a memorable environment. Despite a traditionally challenging restaurant budget and schedule, we were able to deliver guests to the SafeHouse a fantastic on-brand spy experience. The success of this project was due to careful lighting design that differentiates spaces and supports the spy theme. We think WGN said it best when they said ‘The new River North spy themed restaurant and bar embraces mystery and anonymity and provides an exciting experience for guests young and old’.