By: Laura Biannchi

Originally Posted in Crain’s Chicago Business

 

David Kasprak is designing more than 20 restaurant and retail spaces at the Southwest Side airport as part of a $75 million renovation project.

David Kasprak, 60, is founding principal of O’Kelly & Kasprak, a Chicago-based architecture, interior design and project management firm. As part of Midway Airport’s latest $75 million renovation project, the studio is designing more than 20 restaurant and retail spaces. Kasprak lives in West Chicago and has four children, 16 to 24.

 

What has been your biggest challenge at Midway so far?

Designing restaurants for the area where the moving sidewalks were removed. Imagine trying to put restaurants in a space that is 12½ feet wide and 125 feet long.

What did you do?

We designed ribbed structures that are open but feel enclosed. Home Run Inn’s bar will be 60 feet long. Hubbard Inn will have a long aisle with a single row of tables on either side.

Tell us about your “Jerry Maguire” moment.

In 2010, the firm where I was working closed, so I started my own studio with my colleague Belinda (O’Kelly). To prime the pump, we set up a lunch with our biggest client from the old firm—the regional vice president of Compass Group, the largest food-service business in the world.

Sounds like a tense moment.

It was like dining with the godfather. We asked him if he was with us or the other guys, and he kept us hanging while we sweated it out. Finally he said, “Let’s do this,” and we were launched.

What would surprise people about you?

I have a second-degree black belt in taekwondo.

How good are you?

I could probably inflict some damage while getting the hell beat out of me.

Any scars that tell a story?

A week before my wedding in 2008, I had a bike accident that required 50 stitches down the middle of my face. My fiancee kept the hot and cold packs going, and we covered my black eyes with makeup for our wedding. You can barely see the scar now.

An embarrassing career moment?

When I was working with SSP America on an earlier project, I had to meet one of their guys at a restaurant in the Rochester airport. I flew to Minnesota. He was in New York.

What happened?

You’re talking to the only person you’ll ever meet who has been to both Rochesters in one day.