The Cape Cod Room, the signature seafood restaurant of the Drake Hotel (140 E. Walton Place, 312-787-2200), made its debut on New Year’s Eve 1920.
Eighty-six years to the day, the restaurant will say goodbye.
It’s the final voyage for the Cape Cod Room, Chicago’s fine-dining seafood destination decades before Shaw’s Crab House was even on the drawing board. As part of a major renovation of The Drake that will stretch into 2019, the entire Arcade level of the hotel will be transformed, and that will mark the end for the Cape Cod Room.
The restaurant’s final night of service will be New Year’s Eve. Might as well mix those tears with a little Champagne.
It’s not all sad news. Keenly aware of the restaurant’s historic value, the Drake is making sure to preserve some of its most treasured elements, including the wood bar onto which newlyweds Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio signed their initials in 1954.
Some of the restaurant’s iconic dishes will be preserved as well – not in trophy cases, but on the menu at the hotel’s Coq d’Or restaurant, where the Cape Cod seafood boil, Bookbinder soup, oysters Rockefeller, crabcakes and baked Alaska will move. (Actually, an Executive martini and some oysters sound pretty good right now.)
And fans and first-timers alike still have more than a month to visit the restaurant before another chapter of Chicago history closes.
Phil Vettel is a Tribune critic. email@example.com