The Walden Experience
Our honest and inclusive process promotes design-driven rather than budget-constrained events. Seamless planning and creative production reduce costs and promote collaboration, allowing you to focus on what is most important to you.
The Walden events team provides a seamless event experience in our 19,000-square-foot two-story event space, bringing together all the major components of an elevated event—full-service event planning, chef-driven cuisine, a modern beverage program, curated rentals and expert, professional staffing—under one beautiful, environmentally friendly West Town roof.
Full Service Event Planning
In addition to a fresh urban venue, our team is hands on start to finish - conceptualizing goals, building strategy, utilizing technology based planning, implementing creative design and engaging impactful experiential details to create measurable success.
Walden’s culinary program is executed by industry leader Real Kitchen, operating out of an on-site 1,000-square-foot restaurant-grade kitchen. With chefs trained at Charlie Trotter’s and other award-winning restaurants, guests will be treated to a memorable dining experience. Preparation of everything a-la-minute at Walden ensures the highest quality food for your event. Wide-ranging dynamic seasonal menus are offered, and we welcome the opportunity to customize dishes to your tastes. Comprehensive pricing includes staffing, rentals, bar and food, and allows for wide flexibility in menu, service style and design.
Modern Beverage Program
The beverage program at Walden is nothing less than curated, custom and refreshing. On the main floor, there’s a 32-foot bar with 20 draft lines for beer, wine and cocktails; on the second, a 12-foot built-in bar is available for usage for smaller, intimate gatherings. Walden can accommodate all beverage needs from a classic cold pressed juice bar for morning events, espresso service from a professional barista for mid morning and afternoon breaks and custom non alcoholic beverages to a selection of craft beer, wine and margarita on draft and event specific signature cocktails
Venue Design Details
Located in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, Walden’s 19,000-square-foot space has been designed with the ultimate event in mind. Light, bright and airy, the modern two-story interior provides a gorgeous blank slate to create the customized event of your dreams. Whether you’re planning a seated dinner for 300 that begins with a cocktail hour at the bar followed by dancing, entertainment, or presentations later in the evening or a cocktail reception for 500, Walden provides the perfect setting.
It is hard to be environmentally conscious in the event industry—from the trucking of food and rentals and the lack of proper resources for recycling to the nature of pop-up events where everything ends up in the trash when it’s over. Walden is designed with environmental sustainability in mind. Through our efforts, an average-sized event at Walden will generate a third of a ton of CO2 less when compared to a similar event in other settings. That is equivalent to the CO2 absorption of a single tree over 13 years or a 45-acre forest in a single day.
Walden has two floors, each with its own restroom and bar
Main Event Space
Standing reception at the bar followed by a seated meal with ample room for staging or dancing
Cocktail-style standing event with limited seating, and ample room for staging, food stations, action stations
Cocktail-style event or break-out space for smaller client meetings
Based on the unique timing needs for each corporate events and fundraisers, please contact us with details for weekday buyout or hourly pricing details.
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“Our goal is to create an instant connection with each client, providing honest and approachable services at a high professional and innovative level.” —The Walden Team
With some 60 years of event industry experience between them, the partners behind Walden have plenty of thoughtful ideas when it comes to creating the perfect party. When their paths would cross over the years while working at many of the city’s top events, they would often discuss ways to ensure both clients and vendors have a exceptional and seamless experience every time. From there, their innovative event company began to take shape. Central to their concept was bringing all the major components of an event under one roof for one pre-set price with no last-minute financial surprises. Equally important was taking what is often a complicated and stressful process and simplifying it. Its name is a nod to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings.
Partner - Director of Sales
Maria grew up in a family of seven. In other words, every day was a production. At an early age, she knew she would be doing something with food, events, and planning. After earning her culinary and entrepreneurship degrees from Johnson & Wales University, Maria spent many years in the catering and event planning world. Inspired by her clients, Maria opened Plum & Ivy Events in 2014, where she developed a team of passionate and detailed event planners. Since then, Maria and her team have executed numerous events and weddings throughout Chicagoland and the Midwest. Being a visionary, she is excited to marry the Plum & Ivy and Walden teams and create an event experience like no other, where all the moving parts behind an event can work seamlessly together.
Senior Event Planner
Erika has always worked in the Hospitality industry. After graduating with a degree in Event Management from Western Michigan University, she immediately moved to Chicago to pursue her career. Erika has always been interested in event planning and loves that she gets to do it every day. It has been her dream to use her creativity and passion for coordinating events to help clients bring their vision to life. Erika takes pride in developing strong relationships with her clients and identifying what is important to them to make their day special. In her spare time, she loves to explore Chicago, travel, exercise, and spend time with friends. She enjoys everything big city life has to offer despite loving growing up in a small northern Michigan town.
Senior Event Planner
Brittany was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and also was a Plum & Ivy client. After years of corporate experience and planning her own wedding— with the help from the Plum & Ivy team, of course—she knew this was something about which she was truly passionate. She loves bringing a client’s vision to life and making sure their special day exceeds their wildest dreams. Brittany is a planner in all aspects of her life and brings attention to detail and organization to the team. Her positive attitude, thoughtfulness, and willingness to go above and beyond for clients make her a wonderful planner and an integral part of Walden’s Plum & Ivy dream team.
Partner - Food
Where do you go after being the saucier at one of the country’s top restaurants? If you’re Nick, you partner with two other chefs with equally impressive fine-dining resumes and open Real Kitchen, which specializes in preparing approachable, gourmet food made from scratch daily using the freshest ingredients. Its refined cuisine has been served at some of the city’s top social and corporate events. For Real Kitchen’s many fans, it’s a good thing Nick rethought entering medical school after earning a neuroscience degree and instead went to work at various restaurants across the country, before ending up at Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s. At Walden, Nick continues to craft food that exceeds expectations creating memories in the process.
Partner - Corporate Relations
A funny thing happened to Bob during his travels as a national sales manager for a manufacturing company: He found his dream job. Well, sort of. Originally, Bob wanted to open a barbecue restaurant. But when he fully grasped the challenges that would involve, he shifted his focus and instead went to work for a restaurant with a catering division. It didn’t take long for Bob to realize his passion was the event planning side of the hospitality business and eventually became sales director. That was 15 years ago and Bob still has the same passion for the event industry, which allows him to tap into his entrepreneurial and creative sides while always focusing on the experience from the client’s perspective.
Partner - Beverage
For Maurizio, working in the hospitality industry is all about creating special memories for guests—whether it’s a major life event or simply an everyday occurrence. For the last decade, he’s been able to do just that while helping to launch a leading Chicago brewery and overseeing its two full-service taprooms. Prior to that, Maurizio owned and operated a music venue as well as a café and cocktail bar in Sardinia, Italy, where he is from. While the world of wine was his first love, he’s lately turned his professional attention to beer as, in his opinion, beer is the most democratic of drinks, offering something for everyone. When not serving guests a hoppy brew, Maurizio enjoys cooking simple Italian food, making Negroni’s and generally spending quality time with his wife and two young children at his Logan Square home.