Bronzeville Winery is an elegant and inviting fine dining space located in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood, from which it takes its name. Owned by Eric Williams and hospitality guru Cecilia Cuff, the winery offers guests carefully chosen beers and cocktails, a vegan-friendly menu and, of course, an extensive wine selection curated by the winery’s sommelier. ChicagoDerrick Westbrook. Libations are presented in a contemporary interior designed by local architecture firm Future Firm, specializing in community, cultural and commercial spaces, primarily on the south side.
The Cellar is Future Firm’s first foray into restaurant design. Corporate directors Ann Lui and Craig Reschke connected with Eric Williams in 2020 when they were commissioned to design The Silver Room, his multipurpose Hyde Park collaboration and event space. Continuing the ethos of the uplifting emerging artists of the South Side was key to the design motivation of Bronzeville Winery, which was designed to be a space where everyone feels welcome and creativity thrives. The long, narrow dining room is open and uncluttered. The blond wood and matte black palette is minimal, providing an ideal backdrop for displaying art without failing the gallery white. A wall of wooden shelves features wine bottles interspersed with photographs, paintings, and collages created by local artists. It’s lit by custom pendants, designed by Chicago artist Lucy Slivinski, and a glass display case that opens onto a patio. Customers are presented with their watermelon steak (the most recommended menu item), a salad of locally grown herbs and the wine of their choice on wooden tables as they sit in flexible chairs – beige and black, respectively – designed and manufactured in Chicago by Titobi Studios (a collaboration between Norman Teague Design Studios and Max Davis).
With a focus on showcasing the creative work of others, Future Firm attributes the project’s success, in part, to its invisibility. A key tenant in the new 4400 Grove complex on bustling Cottage Grove Avenue, the winery was designed as a tribute to process-driven outcomes, rather than static architectural conditions. “The way to honor Bronzeville and the South Side of this project was to support people who are creating a new creative legacy for the neighborhood in their own way,” Lui said. “It’s an aesthetic that represents that without drawing inspiration from, say, a historic brick detail or something that can be overtly architectural.”
Bronzeville Winery uses architecture to connect its patrons to a burgeoning legacy of South Side art, rather than as a means to an end. Through flights of wine from black-owned vineyards (choose from a range of moods, from tropical and enchanting to herbaceous and mysterious), the immersive experience is both accessible and elevated, ensuring its success and longevity. in the district for which it bears the name.
Alaina Griffin contributes regularly to A.