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Ultra-Lounges Get in the Foodservice Game

Ultra-lounges and other late-night (but dance-free) bars have long been the source of bottle service, scantily clad servers and speed-pouring bartenders.

Estate-LoungeNow it seems these establishments are getting into the foodservice business.

At the recently opened ESTATE ultra-lounge in Chicago, a kitchen consumes about 1,000 square feet of the newly renovated 8,000-square-foot space.

The kitchen's equipment package includes a six-burner range/griddle, a 36-inch salamander, drawer coolers and blenders. Executive chef Chris Turano uses these and other specialty tools to create the playful, foodie-driven American menu that includes lobster mac and cheese with a Goldfish cracker crust and root beer-braised pork belly "sammies" soon to be paired with mixologist-focused concoctions.

By day the SocialLight Group's flagship lounge is a full restaurant open at 11:30 a.m.; by night it becomes a late-night eatery that serves food until 2 a.m. on the weekends.

Renovations were extensive: what once was the home of Life's Too Short, a run-down and campy "shack" of sorts — catering to late-night revelers with plenty of cheap beer and fried food — has become a sleek and modern, mixed-space establishment with dining tables topped simply with gray woven placemats and black napkins on white rectangular plates lining windows overlooking the Chicago River; riverfront dining, a patio, and indoor atrium; a long, central bar; an elevated dining room; and a cozy lounge decked out in red leather and high-def TVs.