Storied Chicago

Two lesser-known personalities become stars at Hotel Lincoln’s watering holes

The rotary dial phones atop the espresso machines at Elaine’s Coffee Call aren’t simply for show. Rather, the collection is a nod to the tiny coffee house’s history. When David Mamet worked on his plays at the hotel that formerly occupied Hotel Lincoln’s spot, he’d call the switchboard operator and order coffee. Her name? Elaine. She lives on in a framed photo on the wall and the cozy menu offerings, most notably a PB&J sandwich made with pecan butter and honey wheat bread.

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Not many people knew the name John Frederick Parker. Then, one April day, Parker played hooky, taking a break from his job on security detail to get a drink. He had a habit of disorderly conduct on the job, and this particular jaunt didn’t turn out so well. The year? 1865. The job? Bodyguard to President Lincoln. Uh-oh. Suitably, Hotel Lincoln’s J. Parker rooftop bar is located on the 13th floor. You may want to reserve the VIP booth, named John Wilkes. In a twist of fate, the J. Parker and John Wilkes booth overlook Lincoln Park, named after the 16th president.

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