Catered fun dinner near O'Hare / on blue line
I'm planning a catered dinner for 90 young professionals. We're hoping to get out of our O'Hare area hotel and go somewhere more fun. Any ideas of a place to host a catered dinner that might be a fun location to hang around in afterwards? It would be nice to find a place near O'Hare or at least on the blue line.
Your best bet is to go to downtown Chicago. What you want isn't typically called a "catered dinner", but rather, you want a dinner in a restaurant that has separate rooms for private parties, including one large enough for your group. And with 90 people to transport, you're much better off chartering a couple of buses for transportation than having 90 people take the el (and risk some of them getting sidetracked or lost). That will also enable you to choose from any of the many downtown restaurants without any concern for proximity to the el line.
Please don't take this the wrong way, but it sounds like this is your first time planning an event of this size. My suggestion would be to chat with professionals in the event planning business who can give you some direction on how to pull this off without major hiccups. This does not necessarily require any expenditure on your part for an initial conversation. For example, since you are staying in a large hotel, they almost certainly have a sales department through which your group arranged your stay. You could talk with people there to get their ideas for where to go and what to do, and how to arrange it including the transportation. Similarly, you could talk with restaurants downtown with large private rooms to ask for proposals and help with how to go about holding this. They will ask you all the questions you need to consider in planning your dinner, and this will give YOU a better idea of what you need to plan for. None of these conversations will cost you anything - you already have the relationship with the hotel's sales department, and the discussions with the restaurants constitute an initial consultation, without any obligation on your part until you sign a contract.
One such place you might talk to is the folks at Lettuce Entertain You. This is a group of 40-50 restaurants, mostly in Chicago. They have their own private party department who can help you consider having your dinner at any of their restaurants, as well as certain non-LEY restaurants (e.g. Maggiano's). Their private party department has its own website at www.lettuceparties.com Once you go through the discussions with them, you will learn what they have to offer, and you will also learn what you need to decide and what to discuss with any other restaurants you might also approach for a proposal.