More Than a Venue
19 East is a full-service venue for events of all kinds and sizes — from intimate weddings to large-scale fundraisers to high-energy fashion shows. Owned and operated by the catering and event planning gurus at Food For Thought, 19 East offers seamless services and premier amenities in a flexible, 10,000-square-foot space. Located in Chicago’s burgeoning South Loop neighborhood in close proximity to the Cultural Mile, 19 East is rooted in a rich history. The building dates back to the 19th century and has been fully and thoughtfully renovated to create a sleek, contemporary interior that still retains its historic integrity. Notable features include hardwood floors, built-in marble bars, tile mosaics, and cathedral ceilings.
If Walls Could Talk
The building at 19 East 21st Street has a long and storied history that spans over a century. Constructed in the late 1800s by the Chicago Illuminating Company (a predecessor of Commonwealth Edison), the building originally functioned as a power plant and warehouse. It was later occupied by Al Capone and his cronies, who used the upstairs floor as a shooting range for target practice. One of Capone’s many speakeasies was located across the alleyway, and when surveyors examined the building in later years, they discovered miles of underground tunnels presumably used to transport alcohol during Prohibition — including one tunnel that led right below 19 East.
After the Capone era, the U.S. Army took occupancy and converted the building into a tire manufacturing facility. In the 1970s, a taxi company moved in and serviced its cars through the same front gate that stands today. The building was later bought by a Chicago businessman, who renovated and marketed the space as a premier event venue called the Chicago Illuminating Company (in reference to its original occupants). Food For Thought acquired the building in 2014.