By Judy Carmack Bross
Since the Gold Coast’s Astor Club opened on June 30, 2023, celebrations reign. Whether an impromptu harmonica medley by Jim Belushi, a holiday concert by the Dredge, a visit from a chef who was there when doors opened in 1963, and black tie elegance on New Year’s Eve, Adam and Victoria Bilter have recreated what was once Maxim’s de Paris in all its red velvet Art Nouveau elegance, updated for the chic contemporary clientele.
Like Belushi, a founding member, neighbors looking for a club just a few blocks away from their homes have found their way. “One of the things we have learned in the past months is how much members are looking for a private club with a dress code, fine dining, and first rate programs, all within walking distance,” Adam said. “We had 250 members signed up before we opened, now we have 340, and we will cap membership at the end of the year. It all started when Victoria and I were walking our two dogs in our neighborhood and stopped to look in the windows and wondered what was in the basement.”
“We love variety in our programs. When the Stratavari Society played we had $52 million in violins in the club, After Belushi talked Hollywood we surprised him with the arrival of the Freddie Dixon Blues Band. He played along on the harmonica.” Adam said.
Other recent programs featured, the Great Lakes Dredge and Philharmonic Society, Chicago’s famous carolers known as the Dredge, and a private exhibit by celebrated photographer David Yarrow.
The Dredge sings at the Astor Club in December
World famous photographer, David Yarrow does private art exhibit at Astor Club
Built at the start of the swinging sixties as an apartment and hotel at Astor and Goethe by famed modernist architect Bertrand Goldberg as his Marina City was being constructed, Goldberg turned the proposed restaurant in the basement over to his socialite wife Nancy, who was also a chef and a licensed pilot.
Christian Gaborit, hired by Nancy Goldberg as one of the five-chef team, attended 60th anniversary of the Club’s founding–to the day– on December 9, and shared memories of evenings with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles in attendance.
“We learned for the first time that several members of the Kennedy family as well as Muhammad Ali were early guests,” Adam said. “It was marvelous learning more about Nancy and Bud Goldberg. We served one of our earliest menus from for the anniversary party.”
The Bilters often invite guest chefs, including one from Bellagio on Lake Como who created an Italian fall menu. “We always look for the freshest ingredients and concentrate on French and Italian faire, dinner only is served, and offering unique weekend specials. But we do have a killer hamburger and have created the ‘haute dog’ of wagyu beef, seared fois grois and rubbarb compote,” Adam said.
Black-tie dress code for the evening was a hit!
Astor Club members enjoying a truly memorable night!
Champagne toasts and caviar, candlelight and carving stations, celebrated the Astor Club’s first year with fizz and frivolity. And a member who had recently won a Grammy brought it along to show friends. “We called it a 24-carat evening because we are entering 2024,” Bilter said. “We plan more of the same fun and unique programming for the year ahead.”
The champagne was flowing all night long!
The beautiful and historic “Maxim’s Dining Room” at Astor Club, has hosted the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Kennedy Family, Muhammad Ali, and many more!
Beautiful people and happy faces!
|Midnight strikes at Astor Club and the crowd goes wild!