Chicago jazz club BackRoom revived in Fulton Market
Landlords Murphy Real Estate, Creek Lane Capital score lease at 318 North Carpenter
Vocalist and record producer Rickey Rainbow has spent nearly eight years figuring out how to revive The BackRoom since playing the final notes at the famous Gold Coast jazz club.
After performing in its last show on New Year’s Eve of 2014, Rainbow bought the rights to the BackRoom brand, and now plans to reopen a venue under the venerable name that operated as a live jazz entertainment destination on Rush Street for more than 50 years. This time, though, it will be in Fulton Market at 318 North Carpenter Street, across the street from Google’s Midwest headquarters.
Rainbow just inked a lease with the landlord, a joint venture of Chicago-based Murphy Real Estate Services and Creek Lane Capital, for about 6,000 square feet on the ground floor of the seven-story, 105,000-square-foot office building they developed and completed in 2020.
“Carpenter Street was a great fit,” Rainbow said, adding his search for retail space was delayed by the pandemic. “We looked in Fulton Market before, and a little bit in the South Loop. That’s when Covid came.”
A Wicker Park spot near Division and Ashland was also considered, he said.
The relocation of The BackRoom into Fulton Market adds momentum to the burgeoning dining and entertainment scene in the neighborhood, which has recently stolen some of the cachet from the club’s former home, the Gold Coast, where the renowned Tavern on Rush announced it shuttering after 24 years last week.
Before its closure and eight-year hiatus, The BackRoom was just south the strip of Rush Street known as the Viagra Triangle, nicknamed for the older, rich men who made restaurants such as Tavern on Rush, Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse and Carmine’s popular places to take younger women as they sought second wives and lucky nights. Now, Fulton Market is emerging as a formidable competitor for Gold Coast entertainment establishments.
Gibson’s has also made plans to open a 15,000-square-foot Fulton Market restaurant at the soon-to-be-built 917 West Fulton Market Street, an 11-story, 470,000-square-foot office building being developed by Alex Najem’s Fulton Street Cos., and the beer brand Guiness is opening a new 15,000-square-foot taproom that will serve a rotating menu of food in the neighborhood next year.
“In Chicago retail and urban retail, Fulton Market has been the first to revive in the city post-Covid–it didn’t even slow down that much during Covid,” said James Schutter, the Newmark broker who represented the landlord in the BackRoom lease. “It’s a continuation of the tremendous entertainment, fashion, restaurant cachet that’s going on in the Fulton Market and Randolph Street area.”
But Gold Coast spots are likely to continue grabbing the fashion sector’s highest-end tenants, Schutter said, although both the Magnificent Mile and the less pricey State Street retail corridors are both struggling right now, with respective vacancy rates of around 25 percent, according to brokerages.
Momentum remains in Fulton Market, however, as Schutter is nearing a deal with another tenant to lease the remaining 4,000 square feet of retail space in the same Carpenter Street building set to host blaring horns, lilting keyboard riffs and saxophone solos with the BackRoom’s return.
Rainbow said he has shows by the likes of Alicia Keys and Kool & The Gang in the works, among others, and is pushing for an opening in the spring of next year.