When you first walk into RL (Ralph Lauren Bar + Grill) you are greeted by the best of the best! You turn to the left and there is this beautiful bar area, which you have to stop by and have a drink or two. The lighting is dim, candles are lit, laughter and hugs all around + the experience is totally worth it! Lovely people that live in the area stop in after shopping or after work + non locals come because they heard it was the place to be in the city! Guests are greeted by being asked how everything is going... and it just feels like home to them!
I first experienced this many years ago after my good friend Andrew Skipper suggested we stop in for a drink. Andrew previously knew some of the RL staff, which Russell was one of them! We entered the bar area and found a seat right away (which is almost unheard of). After meeting Curt + Russell + RL staff - I was amazed how welcomed they made everyone feel, including myself! They wanted to know your story as well as favorite drink...
Over time traveling to the city, I always make a point to stop in and say hello to everyone and catch up on how things are going in their lives and I know I am not the only one...
Around June 2017 I heard Russell was going to have some major surgery and would be off work for quite awhile. Thankfully all went well and he is fully recovered! Since he always made me feel so welcomed when I came in as well as my friends - I wanted to do something nice for him! So this past holiday season I stopped in and dropped off a Cavs shirt for him to wear to cheer on his favorite NBA team! He was thrilled and it was great to see his smiling face again!
After this took place I was in the process of working on a new project called "Inspiring One Another." I thought Russell would be perfect for this! Not only has he touched my life but he has for so many others! I wanted to hear more of his story and share it... Keep in mind most of the staff at RL have been working there for 12+ years! To me that says a lot!
Russell started working at RL over 15 years ago. He began with his good friend Curt Rose (which if you know Russell you definitely know Curt!) They will get you cracking up within minutes after being around them. Such wonderful souls!
I asked Russell what meant most to him by working at RL all these years and he said the people! He has met people from all around the globe and some of them return just to stop in and say hello! They share their favorite stories with friends about how they met Russell + how he made them feel at home! Russell said he gets that trait from his wonderful mother! He loves to make people feel welcome and is just real about it all!
As I was taking images of Russell for this project, there was a lovely lady next to me that shared her favorite story about meeting Russell. She moved to the city over 8 years ago and really did not know anyone locally or the best places to go. She stopped in for a drink and met Russell right away. He welcomed her with open arms and gave her his card. He suggested the best places to go in the city + all the fun things to do! She now returns often to RL to see him and catch up on how he is doing! I thought this was such a beautiful story and a big reason why I wanted to share his story!
It is rare to meet someone that makes you feel so welcomed the minute you walk into a location, esp. a bar! Not only are you greeted by a lovely smile but you are greeted from the heart!
So next time you are in Chicago... stop in and meet this lovely soul + RL staff! I promise you will return often and create some wonderful memories!
Much love to you Russell + RL staff! Thank you for all that you do- it truly means so much to many people, including myself!