We are both lifelong Chicagoans who love and appreciate this city. All around Tortoise Supper Club, you will find art and artifacts with Chicago stories, including many items from our family archives.
In our foyer, you will find the mahogany wood from the original Pump Room. There are two ballot boxes that were used for Chicago mayoral elections from the 1920s through the 1950s. Raoul Varin Prints offer a bird’s-eye view of Chicago landscape during the 1880s. You will also find an 1880s pencil sketch of Andrew McNally. McNally was a great Chicagoan, and one of the founders of the Rand McNally Atlas company. He famously had the presence of mind to bury his printing presses in the sand during the Great Chicago Fire which enabled him to lead the communication efforts during post-fire reconstruction and be back in business one day after the fire.
Keene’s grandmother was a great supporter of the arts here in Chicago including the Lyric Opera, the symphony, and Ravinia Festival. She was a great musician herself. On her 10th birthday, she was given a 1919 Steinway Grand piano which she had her entire life until it landed at Tortoise Supper Club. Our live jazz is played on her piano every Friday and Saturday night.
The Red Room library is filled with books we acquired from our local Newberry Library. It is fun to peek through encyclopedias from the 1950s, and the books like The Chicago Daily News Register. General Wood rests stoically above the fireplace. After managing logistics in the Panama Canal as the Quartermaster General and completing the project of connecting the “Path Between the Seas,” he went on to become the President and Chairman of Sears. General Wood took Sears from the largest mail order retailer in the world to the largest brick and mortar retailer in the world.
Some of our favorite Chicago Stories are that of our “Scoundrels & Rogues.” Prior to opening, we worked with the Chicago History Museum to choose ten scandalous or rogue individuals that had a significant impact on Chicago or an interesting Chicago story. We then commissioned local caricature artist Chuck Senties to create paintings of our scoundrels.
We would love to share our stories with you, just ask!