By TIA CAROL JONES
A four-star, full-service hotel in the heart of Hyde Park, with a full service restaurant and bar that celebrates the diversity of the neighborhood – that’s what the owners set out to create with the Sophy Hotel, 1411 E. 53rd St.
The hotel quietly held a “soft opening” on Sept. 24, with a handful of reservations. At tour of the hotel on Sept 21, numerous workers were bustling around, applying finishing touches. The official opening and a ribbon-cutting ceremony are scheduled for Oct. 1.
“This space itself is here to fill a void, an upscale hotel that will compliment guests and their needs,” said Anthony Beach, general manager. “Why not Hyde Park? Hyde Park is one of the most popular neighborhoods. It is a vibrant neighborhood that has grown tremendously.”
“We’re just part of the growth Hyde Park is experiencing,” said Paul Calvin, director of sales. “It really is about paying homage to the rich and diverse history of Hyde Park.”
The hotel was developed by Olympia Hotel Management and SMART hotels.
The hotel has seven floors and 98 rooms, with eight suites of different sizes, including a presidential suite. Prices range from mid-$100s to mid-high $200s.
Each room has a doorbell and a turntable and records featuring music from Chicago artists. Each suite has a u-shape, with floor to ceiling windows and drapes that operate on a switch system.
The lobby space also is inspired by music, with a trumpet lamp next to the large fireplace and artwork that depicts Mahalia Jackson.
“The novel suite feels the most intimate, it has a very residential feel,” Calvin said. “The presidential suite is a really excellent place for entertaining guests. The intention is to rent it out for day meetings.”
There also is an artist’s showcase on each floor. And, in every room, there is a piece of a reproduction artwork from local artist Joey Korom. There are smart thermostats, fully-stocked mini bars and complimentary Wi-Fi.
“This building is on pace to silver LEED certification,” Calvin said.
Mesler Kitchen Bar Lounge
The restaurant, Mesler Kitchen Bar Lounge, will serve brunch seven days a week, with dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. The bar will be open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
“Mesler means to mix and mingle (in archaic French). It’s American with a global, modest twist,” Beach said.
The books in the restaurant space were curated with the assistance of Powell Books and 57th Street Books. There also is artwork from Hyde Park Academy High School students on the walls of the restaurant.
“Some really talented students’ work is featured,” Calvin said.
Bradford Shovlin, executive chef, described the food as contemporary American combined with American comfort food.
“We use seasonal ingredients, and we’re just trying to give Hyde Park what we think they want,” Shovlin said. “We took our best guess, and we’ll adjust as we go along.”
Some of the dishes include breakfast sandwiches, chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits.
Calvin said Shovlin wanted his menu to offer a little bit of something for everyone.
“He’s really curated a menu that is approachable and non-intimidating. It’s intended to be delicious food,” Calvin said. “Approachability is important to us,”
The etching on the doors to the private dining area and inside the restaurant pay homage to the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The glassware and decor of the bar are a nod to science and the work of Enrico Fermi. And, the patio space is strategically placed on the Dorchester side, where trees form a natural sound barrier.
“It’s a fairly peaceful and quiet place to escape from the hustle and bustle of inside,” Calvin said.
He added that the goal of the hotel is to have an element of sophistication without the stuffiness. The glass walls around the restaurant bar area are meant to allow people from 53rd street to look into the space. The red brick on the exterior is so the hotel doesn’t look out of place.
“We want people of different backgrounds and walks of life to feel welcome,” Calvin said. “A guest of any age can enter, gather and relax.”