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Meet Hilary Saurer of Levy Restaurants at River Roast

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilary Saurer.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started dabbling in the food and beverage industry in college by planning events for students to attend on campus. After college, I started with Levy Restaurants at Ravinia Music Festival in Highland Park, Illinois and coordinated events on the lawn, in the tents and even coordinated backstage catering for some of the biggest acts in our music industry.

Since it was a seasonal venue, I was able to further my Levy education by operating the suite level at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After four years of moving back and forth between the two, it led to my role as Director of Sales at Fulton’s on the River.

Over the next two years, were-conceived the venue and became River Roast. It was a wonderful opportunity to be a part of transitioning a venue into a new concept and I am honored to have been with our company for ten years this month (March).

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest challenge has been trying to always stay ahead of the trends and be as forward-thinking as possible. Being a part of Levy’s umbrella has helped with that along the way since they are one of the top innovators in their field.

But, I always want to make sure our client feels that we know how to plan the best event possible. Planning events for others is never a smooth ride, but that’s why it makes it my favorite thing to do. Every event is so different and therefore, my job allows me to further my education every day.

Please tell us about Levy Restaurants at River Roast.
Located on the Chicago River, River Roast offers dramatic city and water views from every seat. James Beard award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef John Hogan’s menu of contemporary American tavern fare is satisfying and soul-warming.

Our private rooms accommodate intimate affairs from 8 to a gala of 1,200 for cocktails and dinner with access to an outdoor private veranda. I am the Director of Sales for Levy Restaurants at River Roast and I am responsible for group events over 8 guests.

I am part of a team of five managers that sells our property for special events such as weddings, corporate receptions, meetings, rehearsal dinners and executive corporate dinners. We specialize in amazing food with crafted cocktails that deliver an amazing experience to our guests.

We are an incredibly unique venue with outdoor space along the Chicago River. For an event, our clients can utilize our boat dock and arrive in style or host a dessert reception on a private boat.

We have had weddings that make that their big entrance into cocktail hour and corporate events that utilize multiple boats and have their 1,000 guests go on architecture tours throughout their evening. From Michelin-starred restaurants to 100,000-seat stadiums, Levy brings their best to the table. Every time.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
All of my best memories of childhood surround my family. I have three siblings and there was never a dull moment in our household. Some of my favorite times are being with them on New Year’s Eve and celebrating by getting to stay up late; what a big deal when you’re little!

We would have dinner and then create our own ice cream creations with fun toppings like m&m’s, sprinkles, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. As some point, we would throw confetti around and make a bigger mess than I’m willing to clean up as a Mom now.

Once midnight hit (if we made it that far), my Mom would play “New Attitude” by Patti LaBelle and we would dance on top of the couch with hockey sticks as our guitars. We thought it was the coolest thing and make for some great home videos to look back on.


  • River Roast has a wonderful Winter Love Story Package that starts at $95 per person for a wedding in the Winter months

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