Article | Beauty Bar

photo: Andrew Nawrocki

Salon makeover

Beauty Bar gives Ukrainian Village a facelift.

By Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago Magazine | 03.24.10

TOC | Beauty Bar

While walking through the former Sonotheque space for the first time since it closed last November, we get a distinct sense of déjà vu. Having spent many a night drinking and dancing here, we instantly recall the narrow room and long bar. Beyond these structural mainstays, though, the bar bears little resemblance to its former self.

Gone are the sleek, ultramodern couches, the foam soundproofing and the chrome that defined Sonotheque’s steely cool. Reopening as Beauty Bar (1444 W Chicago Ave, 312-226-8828) on Thursday 25, the space looks more like a ’50s salon—but one that Eero Saarinen might have designed, thanks to its flowing curves and open, yet compartmentalized, spaces.

The frosted-glass facade that once kept Sonotheque so mysterious is being taken out in favor of a sunken, open-air patio for summertime drinking. Inside, the much-maligned step that plagued Sonotheque’s dance floor has been removed (don’t worry, the sound system remains intact), and the battered gray flooring has been replaced with a sea of white tile with patches of black and green. When we reach the DJ booth—and a wall divider pockmarked with circular holes—we discover a cozy red-tiled dance floor hiding in the back of the room.

The Chicago opening—a partnership between the concept’s owner, Paul Devitt, and Peter Creig Toalson and Bruce Finkelman of the Empty Bottle—marks the ninth Beauty Bar. Others include New York, Austin, Vegas and a handful spanning the West Coast, from San Diego to Portland. While all maintain the retro hair-salon theme, each adapts to its own space and local scene.

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