When it comes to small meetings in Chicago, planners have a lot of options. We could tell you to book the Talbott Hotel (a JDV hotel, part Two Roads Hospitality—acquired by Hyatt today) due to its fabulous location in the Gold Coast, steps from the Magnificent Mile; its neighborhood feel; its designer interiors, completely reimagined by designer Kara Mann last year; or even its raving online reviews for unparalleled customer service. Each of these attributes add to the appeal of this neighborhood boutique hotel, no doubt—but the real reason you should book the Talbott is for its talented catering sales manager.
Lynsey Ruck’s energy and enthusiasm for even the simplest of event elements—like a build-your-own healthy trail mix bar, or a popcorn break station—are basically a guarantee she’ll go above and beyond to make your event truly memorable for attendees.
Her background in restaurants gave her both a knowledge of what goes on in the kitchen, as well as the chops to work with chefs (like Saul Ramos, new executive chef at 20 East restaurant in the Talbott) to make meals as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palette. “If I wasn’t in this business, I’d want to just decorate plates of food,” says Ruck.
She gets plenty of chances to be creative with food and beverage for events at the hotel, whether it's a fantasy football draft party for 14 with a nacho bar, French fry bar, hummus bar and wings; or a pajama party-themed child’s birthday brunch, complete with headboards at the end of long tables meant to look like a bed and “Mommy-mosas.”
Coming up with the concept always comes first for Ruck, then she says she’ll often search Pinterest to learn the best way to execute an idea. She’s developed a knack for helping planners to break out of their typical box, too: When one planner booked the same meeting over the same dates with the exact same menu as her group had the year before, Ruck switched up details here and there (without straying from the client’s needs) to make the food and beverage component more exciting.
Another one of her priorities is creating more inclusive menus. “We’re coming up with more hearty options for people with dietary restrictions so that maybe even someone who’s not gluten free or vegan would like them,” she says. That’s certainly an improvement from typical meeting menus elsewhere that might include a plate of dry pasta and vegetables for someone who doesn’t eat meat, for example.
Event spaces at the Talbott include The Gallery Room, a living-room-like space off the hotel lobby holding up to 20 people; as well as The McRae Room and The Reed Room private meeting spaces. The restaurant, 20 East, can also be used for events (the Mag Mile Brunch option is a fun way to change up a typical breakfast/lunch pattern), and a full buyout including all the hotel’s event spaces is available.