November 10, 2011 / 9:41 PM / 8 years ago

Cheap Trick plans eatery, museum in Chicago

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The band Cheap Trick plans to open a rock ‘n’ roll-themed eatery and museum in a Chicago neighborhood that was once home to the city’s most famous and influential blues and R&B record labels.

Dave Frey, Cheap Trick’s manager, told Reuters on Thursday the band hopes to be an anchor tenant in an entertainment district being created on the stretch of South Michigan Avenue, where Chess, Brunswick and Vee-Jay Records were headquartered during their heyday and musicians from Aretha Franklin to Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones recorded.

Frey said the band’s proposed project — tentatively called Cheap Trick Chicago — would include a radio station, a performance space and an instrument museum, as well as a restaurant. Additional details will be released once financing is completed, Frey said.

The neighborhood, located between the city’s massive McCormick Place convention center and its busy downtown, boasts a number of formerly opulent but now vacant auto showrooms from the golden age of U.S. car making.

Local official Bob Fioretti has long believed the district, which saw some condominium conversions before the real estate market declined, would be better suited for nightclubs and other commercial uses.

Although often referred to as the city’s Motor Row District, the area is best known as the center of Chicago’s influential recording industry during the 1950s and 1960s.

Legends including Franklin, Berry, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy all recorded at area studios, and bands like the Stones and the Yardbirds made pilgrimages here when they visited the city.

Cheap Trick was founded in the early 1970s in Rockford, Illinois, about 60 miles west of Chicago. Its biggest hits include “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.”

Rick Nielsen, the band’s guitarist and primary songwriter, is already involved in a popular pizza parlor and brewery in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood.

Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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