Amy Morton to open new restaurant in Aurora

Amy Morton to open new restaurant in Aurora
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Amy Morton to open new restaurant in Aurora

Chicago restauranteur Amy Morton will open a new upscale restaurant in downtown Aurora adjacent to the Paramount Theater

The city of Aurora will soon have a new, fine dining restaurant to boast about, right next to Paramount Theatre in Aurora’s downtown theater district, just in time for the launch of Paramount’s 2019-20 Broadway Season in September.

Today, noted Chicago restaurateur Amy Morton, Tim Rater, President and CEO of the Aurora Civic Center Authority, and Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin teamed to announce the debut this fall of a new upscale restaurant in downtown Aurora.

Located at 5 E. Galena Blvd., the upscale eatery will be a cornerstone of the newly redeveloped John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center. Morton’s new restaurant, as yet unnamed, promises to be a true crowd pleaser, catering to theater patrons and locals alike with a wide-ranging menu focusing on steaks, pasta and value.

Whether visiting Aurora’s new downtown theater district for an anniversary, having dinner, lunch, tea, drinks or dessert before or after a show at Paramount, or just looking for a place to cozy up, Morton’s new restaurant will offer fabulous, affordable, consistently great food with a warm, welcoming ambiance and service.

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Restauranteur Amy Morton

Restauranteur Amy Morton

The restaurant will inhabit the historic 1920’s art deco building once home to the famous Bloch and Kuhl department store. Open and filled with light, the space is being meticulously restored as both classic and contemporary, enhanced by a modern take on Pullman booths and spectacular fixtures. Butcher-block paper covered white tablecloths will create an air of simplicity and sophistication yet remain approachable and warm. The brass-topped bar, with a bead-board façade, will be the restaurant’s central hub, ideally located to attract an after work crowd for happy hour, drinks before the show and for a casual lunch or dinner.

“Aurora is putting its money where its mouth is and has clearly committed to revitalizing the city,” said Morton. “Just seven years ago, Paramount Theatre launched a very successful and critically-acclaimed Broadway Series, and already, it has grown to be the mostly highly subscribed-to theater in Illinois, and the second largest in the nation. We look forward to debuting Paramount’s ‘sister restaurant’ this fall, ready to welcome the theater’s 41,000 subscribers to downtown Aurora, four times a season, eight shows a week, at times filling its gorgeous, 1,800-plus seat theater.”

Amy Morton

An innovative, veteran restaurateur, Morton is already known for her current, critically-acclaimed restaurants FOUND Kitchen and Social House, a shared-plate, farm-to-table concept in Evanston; The Barn Steakhouse, the North Shore’s “premiere” steakhouse and a nod to her father and legendary Chicago restaurateur Arnold Morton, also in Evanston; and Patty2, a healthy burger joint on the campus of Northwestern University.

“Amy Morton isn’t just one of Chicago’s top restaurateurs. She is a visionary with a mission,” said Rater. “In addition to serving delicious food in a terrific space, Amy and her team are committed to restoring the architectural and economic significance of downtown Aurora by redeveloping one of the most prominent properties in the city into one of the top dining destinations in Chicago’s western suburbs. Coupled with Paramount Theatre, the new Paramount School of the Arts and Artesan Loft Apartments, we couldn’t be more thrilled that Amy Morton’s new restaurant is going to be a crucial part of the John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center, downtown Aurora’s new crown jewel.”

Chicago restaurateur Amy Morton and Tim Rater, President and CEO, Aurora Civic Center Authority, in the new restaurant space at 5 E. Galena Blvd., next to Paramount Theatre.

While announcing two new restaurants in the same block – Altiro Latin Fusion and Mora Asian Fusion – during his State of the City address last month, Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin hinted at a third upscale restaurant also coming to Galena Boulevard in the heart of downtown Aurora.

“I am beyond excited for Amy Morton to join the Aurora community and for her new restaurant to become part of downtown’s growing entertainment and dining tapestry,” said Mayor Irvin. “We have worked on these plans for months and it is clear why Amy Morton is one of the best restaurateurs in the industry. She is innovative, enterprising and committed. Much like Paramount Theatre itself, her new restaurant will be a destination for our local restaurants and visitors from throughout the country.”

A life spent in the industry has empowered Morton with an inherent sense of hospitality and design, which plays out across her restaurants in a way that welcomes guests and emulates a sense of belonging with dining rooms that feel more like her living rooms than eateries. Likewise, Morton’s new Aurora outpost will have a great vibe and top-quality food and service, with an estimated average check price per-person including beverage of $35 for dinner and around $20 for lunch.

“There will, of course, be several ‘signature’ details of the ‘Morton Touch’ such as double booth stools, the use of reclaimed materials and a few random quotes,” added Morton. “But no signature details are more important than striving to hire entry-level positions from the local population and offering guests a stellar dining experience with relaxed and approachable service in a setting that boasts warmth, humility and style.”

Beyond mindful cuisine and electric environments, Morton strives for positive impacts on the community from both human and environmental perspectives. This core principle drives her to hire entry-level staff from marginalized populations, specifically those battling homelessness, while also committing to sustainable practices in the kitchen and connection to the local community.

The new John C. Dunham Aurora Arts Center is a project by The Community Builders Inc., a non-profit developer, in partnership with Paramount Theatre, the city of Aurora, Invest Aurora and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The 80,000-square foot mixed-use development also brings to downtown Aurora 38 affordable, loft-style apartments on the second and third floors designed to attract and support working artists in downtown Aurora, and a street-level gallery to display residents’ works of art.

Paramount Theatre’s 2019-20 Broadway Season opens this fall with Newsies, the Disney family musical about newsboys who take on a greedy news tycoon, September 4-October 20; followed by a blockbuster version of the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, November 13, 2019-January 19, 2020; the world premiere musical The Secret of My Success, based on the hit 1987 film starring Michael J. Fox, February 12-March 29, 2020; and the Midwest regional premiere of Kinky Boots, April 29-June 14, 2020. Broadway Series packages start as low as $72.

In addition to its Broadway Series, Paramount presents internationally known comedians, music stars, dance events and family shows, and on most Mondays, screens a classic movie for just $1.

For information, visit ParamountAurora.com, call (630) 896-6666, or visit the Paramount Theatre box office, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in downtown Aurora.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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