Features Overview

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Aenean eu justo sed elit dignissim aliquam. Mauris egestas at nibh nec finibus.

MaryAnn and reginald.jpg

Feature 1

SNEAK PEEK at M Lounge

Tarniece Miller has always dug the vibe at M Lounge, the South Loop jazz club now celebrating its 13th anniversary. It’s never been your typical club scene. No overly aggressive suitors. It’s a spot where you can slink into a sofa and grab a cocktail and some conversation.

However, she’s picked up so much more than crafted drinks and complimentary live music from the South Loop martini lounge. It’s where she and another regular named Jon struck up a conversation, exchanged numbers in June 2008, went out together a week later, then tied the knot in February 2010.

“I think the universe was perfectly aligned for me to meet him,” said Miller. It’s not an uncommon story heard at M Lounge— some call it a community — since its January 2006 opening. More than a dozen such unions have been fostered in the living room-type setting at 1520 S. Wabash. That legacy of love and life connections is a particular point of pride for husband-and-wife team MaryAnn and Reginald Marsh, its African-American owners who have built both a successful business franchise and a successful marriage of nearly 20 years.

“You would not think that you would meet the love of your life at a bar, but M Lounge had created an atmosphere where a lot of single women feel safe and comfortable coming in,” MaryAnn said. “The sort of comfortable atmosphere lends itself to meeting people,” she said, noting it was voted as the best place for a first date on Yelp. So help celebrate their 13th anniversary on Valentine's Day this February to find love in a drink and great conversation. MaryAnn is also the sister of award-winning journalist Maudlyne Ihejirika.

Reginald, a former television news producer and government relations professional, had long wanted to open such a bar. MaryAnn, a real estate broker, was 100-percent behind the dream, he said. They figured the South Loop, with its scarcity of nightlife, was prime for the venture. “We wanted a space that was nice and comfortable for people and kind of reminded you of a living room,” Reginald Marsh said. “Because of that, we still have regulars who always feel at home.”

The intimate martini lounge has over the years become synonymous with hot, live jazz; cool, innovative cocktails; warm customer service; and a client base as immensely loyal as the “Cheers” bar of old. It has been the Chicago home base of such renowned jazz greats as the late pianist/composer Ghalib Ghallab, and saxophonist Ray Silkman.

About 1,800 patrons come through the doors monthly, who might find themselves doing some celebrity sighting. Angela Bassett, Andre Royo, Jussie Smollettand other Empire cast members; and players from the Chicago Bears and Chicago Sky have been on the scene. Area client “regulars” are so loyal that quite unintentionally, the South Loop oasis has spawned a sub-community of couples who have met their match at M Lounge — some married with children.

Its owners consider it a badge of honor to have been responsible for over a dozen weddings — couples who have become family, and will always consider M Loungetheir Cupid’s lair. “It’s the intimacy of the lounge and the quality of people that we attract — people of like mind; people on the mature side — that make us successful,” Reginald said.

Employees, there are even comfortable vouching for regulars. “When you meet someone there, it’s sort of like meeting a friend of a friend. A customer can ask ‘What do you know about that guy?’ I’m able to say, ‘He’s a good guy,’ because I’ve been seeing him in the bar and talking to him. We get to know our customers,’ MaryAnn said. “It’s kind of like being at a cocktail party with a bunch of friends.” - Cheryl V. Jackson / Freelance Reporter

Feature 2

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Donec ac fringilla turpis. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos.

Feature 3

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae. Suspendisse nec congue purus.