Only at Willis: National Restaurant Association

February 22, 2017

Only at Willis: National Restaurant Association


Deal Marks First Major Lease After Unveiling Willis Tower $500 Million Modernization Plan

CHICAGO, IL – February 22, 2017: Willis Tower owner Equity Office, the U.S. office platform wholly-owned by Blackstone’s real estate funds, announced today that the Chicago operations of the National Restaurant Association, the largest foodservice trade association in the world, has signed a long-term, full-floor office lease totaling 50,852 square feet of space at the Tower. The deal marks the first major lease signed at Willis Tower since its $500 million transformation plan was announced on February 1, bringing exciting new office, retail, dining and entertainment amenities to the Tower.

Jamey Dix, Maggie Brophy and Joy Jordan of Telos represented Equity Office in the transaction. The CBRE Non-Profit Practice Group represented the National Restaurant Association.

“We are pleased to welcome the National Restaurant Association to Willis Tower,” said David Moore, Senior Vice President and Portfolio Director - Chicago, Equity Office. “The National Restaurant Association chose Willis Tower in order to attract the workforce of tomorrow and support the mission of their work. Willis Tower provides a unique, engaging office environment with unbeatable views, a flood of natural light, and large, flexible office floor plates that can adapt and meet the constantly changing nature of today’s work. The new amenity base at Willis Tower, with its shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, will provide employees an invigorating space unlike any other in Chicago to collaborate, entertain, celebrate, or relax. As an organization with deep roots in Chicago, Equity Office is honored to provide the National Restaurant Association with their next home as we continue to transform Willis Tower into the preeminent office environment.”

The National Restaurant Association will occupy the thirty-sixth floor and will be in close proximity to some of the new office amenities, including Tower House, a two-story tenant lounge and café, and Tone, a 30,000-square-foot, full-service fitness experience.

“The National Restaurant Association’s mission is to promote and advance the restaurant industry and to improve the quality of life for all we serve. We are thrilled that our Chicago team will now be located in a world-class destination, positioned to be of even greater impact to our members and our industry,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association. “The Willis Tower offers us a fresh environment for hosting industry events, accessing services that help our employees gain greater satisfaction out of their workdays, and supporting a wide variety restaurants and entertainment planned just floors below us.”

“This was a perfect match. The National Restaurant Association was heavily focused on providing amenities for its employees and creating an inspiring new work environment with light and views. The new Willis Tower provides an unprecedented and diverse array of amenity neighborhoods, and the thirty-sixth floor features the large floor plate, open air and views the National Restaurant Association was seeking,” said Jamey Dix, ‎Vice President at Telos Group.

“There were many good alternatives in the market for the National Restaurant Association, but the new redevelopment plans and spectacular tenant amenities at Willis Tower separated it from the others. As an association focused on the restaurant industry, the hospitality component of the new amenities at the Tower promotes an environment complementary to the National Restaurant Association and exciting to its staff and members,” said Gregg Witt, Senior Vice President at CBRE.

On February 1, Willis Tower owners Blackstone and Equity Office revealed visionary plans for the Tower. Through a $500 million investment, Willis Tower will be transformed and reinforced as a civic destination and the ultimate workplace with unprecedented office amenities, and unique retail and entertainment experiences. The transformation will be the first major renovation in the building’s 43-year history, creating a modernized Willis Tower. It will include 150,000 square feet of space for exclusive tenant use, more than 300,000 square feet of new retail, dining and entertainment space to be added to the base of the building, and a new 30,000-square-foot outdoor deck and garden space.
Willis Tower currently has an 85% occupancy rate and includes companies such as United Airlines, Dentons, Korn Ferry, and Oracle.

About Equity Office
The Equity Office portfolio, encompassing approximately 58 million square feet of Class A office space throughout the U.S., is rich with signature properties in the nation’s leading gateway markets. The company focuses heavily on meeting the current trends and changing strategic needs of companies and our chosen markets. We rely on a connected coalition of informed and market sensitive regional leadership groups made up of seasoned real estate professionals who keenly understand the nuances of their individual markets. With an average tenure of over 25 years in the real estate industry, our regional leaders also head teams with deep experience across the board from investment and asset management, to property management, development and construction. Our regional operations draw on the financial power and legendary prestige of one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the nation. As an affiliate of Blackstone, a pre-eminent global asset manager providing significant financial strength and long-term stability, we are extremely well capitalized. Please visit for more information.

About Willis Tower
Standing 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall at 233 S. Wacker Drive, Willis Tower offers more than 4.5 million square feet of premiere office, retail and entertainment space. Debuted in September 1973 as the Sears Tower, today more than 100 prominent businesses call Willis Tower home, including financial services, law firms and insurance companies. America’s iconic skyscraper is centrally situated between the city’s financial and cultural hubs and the dynamic West Loop, home to some of the Windy City’s top shops and restaurants. Boasting spectacular Chicago and Lake Michigan views reaching nearly 50 miles on a clear day, the 103rd floor Skydeck Chicago is the highest observation deck in the United States. Featuring The Ledge, a first-of-its kind attraction that extends four glass viewing boxes beyond the structure itself to create an unforgettable viewing experience, Willis Tower attracts more than 1.6 million visitors per year.

About National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 14 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf.  We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 20-23, 2017, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

About The Telos Group, LLC
The Telos Group, LLC provides leasing, marketing and consulting services in Chicago and consulting services for real estate businesses nationwide. Telos employs a disciplined and goal driven process to create entrepreneurial solutions customized for each assignment. As Chicago’s only dedicated owner representation firm, it has been the leader in shaping the evolution of office space for innovative businesses. Telos represents a portfolio of 20 million square feet encompassing historic to trophy buildings owned by diverse ownership groups, from entrepreneurial investor consortiums to international institutions. The firm was awarded Office Property Representative of the Year for 2012, 2013 and 2014 by the Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards.