Jon Winke's had more than his share of unusual
requests during his 30 years as chef concierge at the Ritz-Carlton
He recalls the grandparents babysitting their
grandchildren at the hotel while the parents enjoyed a night out.
"The grandma called and said, 'My grandchild is used to being
rocked to sleep. Can you get me a rocking chair?'" Winke called
around to find a rental rocking chair, but the price of delivery
alone was $50, plus the rental cost. "I had a rocking chair at
home, so I called my wife and asked her to bring it in."
Then there was the dad of a 15-year-old boy so enamored of
one of the female actresses in the theater production of "All Shook
Up," he just had to meet her. Winke arranged to have flowers sent
to the actress, asking if she'd be the family's guest at lunch the
next day. "She called and we worked it out," Winke says. "The dad
said it's something they would never forget."
Most of Winke's job, though, involves helping families
find their way around the city with kids. "It's more, 'What's at
the museum?' or 'Where can I go dine that's
Winke draws on his vast knowledge of the city, along with
his experience raising six children in the Chicago area. He also
takes advantage of invitations to see new shows and restaurants so
he knows firsthand what's hot and what's not. He unabashedly loves
the city, and he relishes the chance to help families experience
"I could help promote Chicago and make a difference in a
Jon Winke recommends...
Three hidden gems
1. The Butterfly Haven at the Notebaert Nature Museum.
2. Noble Horse Equestrian Center. It's in Old Town
and you can go there for dinner and theater. They have live horse
performances every week.
3. Scoozi. On Sunday evenings, they let kids don
chef hats and aprons and make their own pizzas with the chefs …
then enjoy eating their own creations.
Four kid-friendly restaurants
1. Mity Nice Grill in Water Tower Place
2. Foodlife in Water Tower Place
3. Cheesecake Factory, 875 N. Michigan
4. Deca in the Ritz
Top five family destinations
2. Shedd Aquarium
3. Museum of Science and
5. Magnificent Mile
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