Stella Van Buren Anchors Downtown as New Italian-American Steakhouse


Meet the Westin's Italian steakhouse, Stella Van Buren

Anderson said he expects the location will make Stella Van Buren a destination for the several thousand workers in the adjoining towers and for more beyond, as well as for visitors. The hotel, he noted, is near a freeway entrance and exit, making it convenient for suburban diners driving to the city.

The 833 East Michigan building has its own steakhouse, Rare, by Noble Chef Hospitality group of Madison.

Anderson, senior vice president and chief revenue officer for White Lodging, said he thinks the area can support two steakhouses, noting that they take different approaches. Rare has the traditional dark wood and leather steakhouse décor and jacketed servers; Stella's décor will be contemporary, with service that restaurant general manager Denise Ploof described as relaxed but polished.

From its third-floor perch, Stella Van Buren will have tall windows with views of the city, mainly to the west.

The dining room and bar's design is by Knauer Inc., a Chicago architecture and design firm that specializes in restaurants. The company has designed restaurants including Harbor House at the lakefront. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises of Chicago consulted with White Lodging on the Stella Van Buren restaurant concept.

The restaurant will seat about 180 diners, with an additional 50 seats in the bar, said Ploof, the general manager. The restaurant also will have a room for private dining.

Besides wines from Italy and the United States, the bar will have an extensive list of bourbons, said Ploof. It also will have seven local beers on tap and weekday happy hour specials.

The Italian steakhouse is the only restaurant of its sort in the Westin chain.

The chef for the Milwaukee restaurant is Justin Winkler, who has worked at restaurants from California to South Carolina.

Winkler is putting the finishing touches on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, which were designed by White Lodging's culinary team in Merrillville.

Prime steaks cooked on an infrared grill and house-made pastas, such as smoked chicken tortelloni and

The hotel and restaurant are expected to open the first week of June, and White Lodging is hiring people to fill 120 positions at the Westin and its restaurant.

JSWD Wisconsin Venture I LLC, led by developers Ed Carow and Mark Flaherty, is building the hotel. It's an affiliate of Jackson Street Holdings.